Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night hearing a strange beeping sound? You probably must have sprung from your bed thinking it's your fire alarm system. You look out for smoke inside your home to see if everything is alright. And then, to heighten your level of annoyance, you find out that it was the carbon monoxide detector beeping. But then what made it beep? Probably, a high level of carbon monoxide must have been the reason for it, or was it the battery?
I am sure that it must have happened with many of us. Generally, the beeping sound is an indication for you to change the battery of the alarm. It has a battery backup even if your detector is attached to the electrical system, which means that you will need to change the battery when required. Hence, one of the reasons for it to beep is when the battery is low.
It is better for you not to ignore the beeping, because after the battery is dead completely, you will no longer hear it beep and which means that you are no longer protected. Make sure whenever you hear the beeping, that the battery is changed, if it is low. If you find the detector beeping every minute, which would be mostly one quick beep, then it's time to change the battery. Also, it is important for you to do a proper placement of the detector, so that the harmful CO can be detected easily.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
There is a big difference between the smoke alarm and the CO detector beeping. Whenever the smoke alarm beeps, the reason for it is obviously smoke, and you can visibly see the smoke which makes it beep. In case of the detector, you do not see carbon monoxide.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) can be really harmful. It replaces the oxygen in the red blood cells, which lessens the much-needed oxygen supply to the organs in the body. Incomplete combustion of fuels like oil, coal, natural gas, etc., produces CO, which is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. Hence, exposure to CO can be fatal. This is why the domestic reasons for CO production are from the fireplace and the gas or coal grill. You have to keep all places any fuel burns clean. Dirt can accumulate and clog up the grill or the fireplace, aiding incomplete combustion of fuel.
Symptoms of Poisoning
The symptoms include nausea, breathlessness, fatigue and headaches. The symptoms gets severe if the levels of CO exposure is higher. Hence, it is advisable to call up 911 and get out of the house, in case of loud beeping and if any of the family members show poisoning symptoms. If there are no symptoms and if the detector beeps intermittently, open the windows to let fresh air come in and make sure that your house is properly ventilated. Call up a qualified technician and let him inspect the appliance. If it is not an emergency, then you may also call the non-emergency number of the fire department to get help.
CO is a gas which can generally be found at our homes. To avoid accidental exposure of carbon monoxide, make sure that home appliances which operate on fuels like natural gas, oil, wood, gasoline, et al, are installed properly and maintained. Appliances like the generator, furnace, fireplace, etc., must be inspected regularly by qualified technicians. Also, your detector must meet the UL 2034 standards, to ensure your safety.
If you hear your detector beeping every 30 seconds, it's time for you to change your smoke detector itself. Check for the manufacturing date, it probably must be old enough to have it changed. It is best to read the owner's manual to check what alarm signal denotes what procedure, and what are you recommended to do. You may also call up the number mentioned in the owner's manual for any kind of specific questions relating to your detector.
To get rid of the intermittent beeping, because of low battery, change it, twice every year. It is always better to keep leak-proof batteries there, which will help you to get peace of mind and not to forget the annoying chirping sound. The normal lifespan of the alarms are said to be five years, but then it is best to change or replace them before that.