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Old 09-16-2022, 11:58 AM   #1
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Carbon Monoxide

Question for the group, I've been having an issue on our boat with our carbon monoxide alarms going off. It's when we aren't running and haven't been for some time. What possibly could be generating CO? I open the windows, vent the boat when this happens but I need to figure out a root cause. Appreciate any ideas anyone may have.
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Old 09-16-2022, 12:01 PM   #2
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Are you using a CO monitor designed for marine use? Home models often false alarm on a boat. Don’t know why but they do.
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Old 09-16-2022, 12:17 PM   #3
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Nearby boats with gasoline engines running? I have been told that a battery / batteries that are over charging will set them off.
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Old 09-16-2022, 12:18 PM   #4
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Home CO detectors are just fine in my opinion, but they do have a lifespan. Yours may be nearing the end of it's liferspan.

Another thing I have seen is that battery gasses from a hot cell or overcharging can cause a CO sensor to alert. Perhaps that is the issue?
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Old 09-16-2022, 12:36 PM   #5
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After 12 years aboard with home detectors...

They will sound definitely for overcharging batteries....

And it seems like when the air is cool and damp they tend to sound off as well...not sure if that's because of low battery charge or not.
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Old 09-16-2022, 12:49 PM   #6
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Huh. They are home detectors. Battery charger is on, could be overcharge I suppose.
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Old 09-16-2022, 01:57 PM   #7
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If the dector is older replace it and also check your batteries, off gassing can cause an alarm.
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Old 09-16-2022, 03:42 PM   #8
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If the dector is older replace it and also check your batteries, off gassing can cause an alarm.
I've replaced my entire bank of 3 8ds this summer, wonder if there is an issue with the charger.
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Old 09-16-2022, 03:59 PM   #9
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After 12 years aboard with home detectors...

They will sound definitely for overcharging batteries....

And it seems like when the air is cool and damp they tend to sound off as well...not sure if that's because of low battery charge or not.
True. Mine used to go off the first weekend in the spring when the batteries were getting their initial charge from winter.
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Old 09-16-2022, 04:27 PM   #10
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In addition to batteries gassing off, and this may not be your problem, but gas fired stoves, ovens or heaters will set of alarms if there is not enough air circulation. Same can occur with fresh paint, varnish, carpet or anything with VOC emissions. This was explained to me by an ABYC tech a few years ago who said they may be working on this for an upcoming supplement however I’ve not seen it yet. VOC’s can also gum up the circuitry I’m told

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Old 09-16-2022, 06:44 PM   #11
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I had at least two of the main reasons mentioned happened to me last month.

1 a truck running nearby for a long period of time triggered them and it took me a while trying to figure it out.

2 batteries where getting overcharged through my inverter charger when i looked at the voltage was at 14.8 and i could actually smell foul.

took all detectors dunked them in a 5 gal bucket.

bottom line i will not get the combined detectors anymore.
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Old 09-16-2022, 07:35 PM   #12
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I had at least two of the main reasons mentioned happened to me last month.

1 a truck running nearby for a long period of time triggered them and it took me a while trying to figure it out.

2 batteries where getting overcharged through my inverter charger when i looked at the voltage was at 14.8 and i could actually smell foul.

took all detectors dunked them in a 5 gal bucket.

bottom line i will not get the combined detectors anymore.
1. The truck was emitting carbon dioxide. It was finding its way into your boat The detectors where doing their job.
2 Did you fix your over charging problem?

Donít kill the messenger.
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Old 09-17-2022, 06:48 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by floatingmick View Post
Question for the group, I've been having an issue on our boat with our carbon monoxide alarms going off. It's when we aren't running and haven't been for some time. What possibly could be generating CO? I open the windows, vent the boat when this happens but I need to figure out a root cause. Appreciate any ideas anyone may have.

Most CO detectors have a shelf life (~5 years, IIRC), and sometimes sounding off is the warning to you that they need to be replaced.

And/or, sometimes sounding off is meant to signify a low battery condition.

Or there's the battery off-gassing thing folks have mentioned.

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Old 09-26-2022, 12:46 PM   #14
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+1 for batteries. The only time I had an alarm was when plugged in for a while at a marina and I assume batteries were getting highly charged and off-gassing. If it happens, try venting the cabin then unplugging and see if it happens again.
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Old 09-26-2022, 03:17 PM   #15
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The way I understand it, marine carbon monoxide detectors are made differently than land-based (home) detectors. They use what they call a "Time Weighted Average" to avoid false alarms. They also cost 4 times what a land-based detector costs so you have to decide what's more important to you: saving $ or avoiding annoying false alarms.

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Old 09-26-2022, 03:20 PM   #16
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The way I understand it, marine carbon monoxide detectors are made differently than land-based (home) detectors. They use what they call a "Time Weighted Average" to avoid false alarms. They also cost 4 times what a land-based detector costs so you have to decide what's more important to you: saving $ or avoiding annoying false alarms.

Bob
Good land based detectors use TWA as well. The marine detectors usually have a wider operating temperature range and may last longer in a corrosive, salty environment though.
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Old 09-26-2022, 04:05 PM   #17
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I have both a hard-wired marine unit and 2 battery operated home CO monitors aboard. All 3 will sound with excessive battery charging as well as if the holding tank is full of urine and starts to overflow!
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Old 09-26-2022, 04:46 PM   #18
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I employ many types of direct reading instruments in my profession. CO sensors are available in three basic flavors: electrochemical, metal oxide, and colorimetric. Each have positive and negative characteristics. ALL direct reading instruments, by their very nature of ingesting the target atmosphere, suffer from degradation due to ambient temperature, humidity, and possibly the target compound.

You would think that the manufacturers are holding nuclear secrets when trying to get a simple and straight answer as to the sensor type provided. All I can get from the manufacturers of “marine” units is that their units “better resist the adverse effects of temperature and humidity.” Better than what? I don’t think it’s the sensor type. On my boat I use reasonable quality “home” CO detectors and swap them out every couple of years or at the first sign of erratic behavior.

For all types of CO detectors, any gas of similar molecular size and chemical reactivity can produce a false positive (alarm). Common CO detector interferents include acetylene, dimethyl sulfide, alcohols (ethyl, isopropyl, methyl), ethylene, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide, mercaptan, propane, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and probably some others.
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Old 09-26-2022, 05:00 PM   #19
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So there you are. Thanks for that excellent explanation.
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Old 09-26-2022, 08:50 PM   #20
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Thanks everyone, i think it's a winter investment in better CO2 detectors.
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