Why Is My Carbon Monoxide Alarm Going Off? (We Have A Fix)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

The sound of a carbon monoxide detector going off is startling and it should be. Those sounds usually indicate that something’s wrong and that you need to take action right away. You absolutely must not ignore those warning sounds. Doing so risks seriously jeopardizing the health of everyone in your household.

If your carbon monoxide alarm is going off, it most likely means it has reached its end of life and should be replaced. CO alarms generally last around 7 years. Turn off anything connected to gasoline inside your home as soon as you hear continuous beeps from the carbon monoxide detector.

After that, open all windows and doors and exit your home together with your loved ones. Go ahead and call 911 too so they can address the situation and don’t re-enter your home until they say so.

The threat posed by carbon monoxide to all families must always be taken seriously. Always take heed of what the carbon monoxide detector is telling you and take action accordingly. Learn more about carbon monoxide, your carbon monoxide detector, and how to stay safe from that substance by reading on.

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What Is Carbon Monoxide?

In order to understand the importance of listening to your carbon monoxide detector, you must learn more about the aforementioned substance. First off, you need to know that carbon monoxide is fairly common.

Carbon monoxide comes from carbon fuel sources that were not burned completely. Possible sources include charcoal, gasoline, propane, wood, and other types of fuel. It can come from all kinds of sources and there’s a good chance it’s been inside your home at some point.

The tough part about dealing with carbon monoxide is that you can very easily miss it. We are talking about a substance here that is tasteless, colorless, and odorless. With no detector installed, you can quickly forget about the presence of this deadly substance.

Carbon Monoxide Can Affect Your Health Greatly

And make no mistake, carbon monoxide is very deadly. Carbon monoxide can cause you to lose consciousness, it can cause brain damage, and it’s even capable of affecting your heart. Children, elderly individuals, and those with chronic heart problems are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Even if you weren’t exposed to a fatal level of carbon monoxide, you will still feel its effects strongly. You’ll likely feel nauseous, weak, and experience blurred vision.

By the way, it’s not just people who are at risk for falling victim to carbon monoxide poisoning. Your pets can also suffer from it. If you suspect carbon monoxide has made its way into your home, don’t forget to protect your pets from it too.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Accumulate Inside a Home?

Carbon monoxide can easily get inside your home since it comes from so many fuel sources. Leaving your gas-fueled fireplace on can cause high amounts of carbon monoxide to accumulate inside your home. Using old stoves and grills indoors could also cause a spike in your home’s carbon monoxide levels.

Other appliances known to produce carbon monoxide include space and water heaters, furnaces, and generators. Use them inside your home carelessly and you may be exposing your family to carbon monoxide. Don’t forget about your garage as well. If you leave your car running in there, the carbon monoxide could start to accumulate.

Another compounding factor to consider is poor ventilation. With the doors and windows closed, the carbon monoxide has nowhere to go. It will just accumulate within the confined space that is your home interior and cause problems in there.

At What Level Does Carbon Monoxide Become Poisonous?

Considering how often we use items that produce carbon monoxide, there’s a chance it’s inside your home already. The EPA says the average carbon monoxide level inside homes without gas stoves is 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). If you have a properly configured gas stove, the carbon monoxide level is around 5 to 15 ppm.

At those levels, carbon monoxide is not going to have much of an impact on you. It’s when carbon monoxide levels reach around 70 ppm that people start to feel its effects. Double that and you could lose unconsciousness.

Why You Should Have a Carbon Monoxide Detector Installed

We’ve already established that carbon monoxide is hard to detect and has some kind of presence in most homes. You need to know if carbon monoxide is potentially a threat to your household. The best way to do that is by enlisting the help of a carbon monoxide detector.

Many carbon monoxide detectors will start alerting you to the presence of the substance as soon as levels hit 50 ppm. That’s well before you may start experiencing symptoms so you should be able to take appropriate action easily.

Should the carbon monoxide level pass a dangerous threshold, the detector will be beeping regularly to let you know something’s wrong. Notably, though, the beeps can have different meanings too.

How to Interpret the Beeping of Your Carbon Monoxide Detector?

You should take the time to check the manual for your carbon monoxide detector before installing it. Doing so will help you better understand what the device is trying to convey whenever it makes a sound.

Most of the time, the carbon monoxide detector is beeping because it senses the hazardous substance in the air. Typically, a carbon monoxide detector beeping continuously, pausing, and then beeping again usually means the poisonous gas has been detected. It may beep four times in a row before pausing and then beeping in that pattern again.

Spring into action right away when you hear that kind of beeping. The accumulation of carbon monoxide may already be hitting a dangerous level at that point.

Now, if the beeping pattern is different from that, the detector may be telling you something else. In many cases, periodic beeping is an indicator that the batteries in the detector need to be replaced.

You should also check for the beeping pattern the detector will emit when it’s nearing the end of its life cycle. Keep that in mind and listen for it. Replace the carbon monoxide detector as soon as it stops working to keep your home safe.

What Should You Do if Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Starts Beeping?

Immediate action is needed when you hear your carbon monoxide detector beeping. Assuming that the beeping pattern is not for a battery change or unit replacement, you must follow the actions detailed below.

Turn Off Any Possible Sources of Carbon Monoxide inside Your Home

As soon as you hear that beeping, look for the possible sources of carbon monoxide inside your home. Turn off the stove, your fireplace, your heater, or even your car. Leaving those appliances on and unattended is risky. They could be the cause of an explosion or some other kind of accident. Just make sure you work quickly to turn them all off.

If there are appliances inside your home producing carbon monoxide that you cannot get to right away, leave them be. Trying to access them at that point could be dangerous. Prioritize other matters first.

Open Up Your Doors and Windows

After shutting off all the possible sources of carbon monoxide, you can turn your attention to improving air circulation. Open up all your doors and windows and let as much fresh air into your home as possible. You can also turn on some fans to help with circulation.

Exit Your Home Together with Your Family

The first two things we mentioned in this section are tasks you should accomplish in just a few minutes. Right after you finish those tasks, you need to exit your home together with your entire family. That means the pets should come with you too.

By the way, don’t think about staying or going back inside just because the detector has stopped. There could still be carbon monoxide in the air and you could be exposing yourself to it by refusing to leave.

Call 911

Now that you’re outside, you can go ahead and call 911. You cannot be certain that everyone in your family is okay following that scare. Getting checked out by the emergency responders is a good idea.

You should also call 911 because they will be able to help control the carbon monoxide leak. They can pinpoint the source of the leak and address it if your earlier actions did not suffice.

The emergency responders can also tell you when you can go back inside. Listen to their instructions and wait if you have to. Going back inside before it’s safe could lead to the situation getting a whole lot worse.

Contact a Technician

That your carbon monoxide problem reached a point where it set off the detector is a real concern. You cannot shrug that off as a one-time thing.

Contact a technician and have that person check out your home. Ask why the carbon monoxide level reached that point and talk about how you can prevent that from happening moving forward. You may not be as lucky next time so take this opportunity to make your home safer.

Where Should You Place Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

The importance of having a carbon monoxide detector cannot be overstated. You need it inside your home. You should even look into getting multiple carbon monoxide detectors.

Place one in your living room and in all of the bedrooms so everyone can hear the beeps right away. It’s also a good idea to place one in rooms that aren’t frequented such as your basement or attic. Installing one near your garage is also smart.

When it comes to actual placement, installing the carbon monoxide detector on the wall or ceiling is good enough. You don’t have to find a specific spot on the wall for it.

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Related Questions

How Do You Prevent Carbon Monoxide from Accumulating inside Your Home?

Carbon monoxide can easily accumulate inside your home if you aren’t careful. Here are some measures you can take to prevent that from happening.

  • Only purchase equipment that meets the appropriate safety standards.
  • Don’t use outdoor stoves and grills indoors.
  • Don’t use charcoal indoors.
  • Don’t use generators indoors.
  • Get your vents regularly checked.
  • Maintain heating equipment as directed.
  • Never leave your car running in a closed garage.
What Is the Best Kind of Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Any kind of carbon monoxide detector is better than none. However, you do have some choices to consider when making a purchase.

Some of the carbon monoxide detectors today can send alerts to your smartphone. Those are great detectors to install because they allow you to watch over your family even if you aren’t at home. As soon as you receive the alert on your phone, you can call home and tell everyone about it.

It’s no surprise that those units are a bit more expensive. Given what they do to keep your family safe though, they are well worth the money.

How Long Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Last?

Carbon monoxide detectors have an expected lifespan of about 5 to 7 years. It’s smart to check on them before then though. Have them checked out regularly by a professional just to be sure that they are still working as intended.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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