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Old 09-06-2011, 03:24 PM   #1
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heater and carbon monoxide detector

Hi people. New to rving. Have taken it out four times and of course has had some issues everytime. Bought a 2006 Fleetwood Jamboree 24D. I one that I was concerned about.
My carbon monoxide detector went off during the night. The only combustion that was on was the heater. CO detector was beeping 4 times which read, get fresh air and call 911. Of course I didn't. I turned the heater off, turned the outside fan on and opened all the windows and vents. It shut off. But it was freezing sleeping at 9600 feet. So I turned it back on and stayed up most of the night of course to see if it would trigger it again. It didn't but I only turned the heater on for about 15 min at a time. I read that the CO dectector could be old and more sensitive. I checked the heater and the gaskets between the exchanger and the flame / exhaust seemed in good shape. Any way to see if the dectector needs replacing? Or anything else to check on the heater?

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Old 09-06-2011, 03:38 PM   #2
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Hi, Pete

Is it possible you're getting a sort of "false alarm" due to your elevation?
I think CO detectors are responding to lower oxygen levels, a natural occurrence at 9600 ft.
I don't know what the parameters are in a CO detector, but presume that they're set far, far to the side of safety.

I've never used a freestanding CO detector, but on portable Catalytic heaters, the low oxygen shutoff is so sensitive that the heater won't function at all above certain elevations!

Just a thought...


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Old 09-06-2011, 08:37 PM   #3
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I believe there have been other discussions here and the conclusion was that CO detectors basically have a 5-7 year life expectancy and then need to be replaced. It's your turn.
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:09 AM   #4
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Thanks for your responses.

Francesca, I went camping around Rocky Mount. Nat Park, which was probably around 10000 and had no problems. Not to say that it isnt possible though.

Yeah, I read a few of them posts that say 5 years, just replace it. So I think thats what I'm going to do now. It does say replace before Nov 2012 on it. But if I dont trust the dectector then whats the point. I did open up the heater cover and the gaskets for the heat exchanger look good, I cannot see the entire heat exchanger though without pullin the whole system out to see if there are any holes in it. Would you recommend ripping the whole thing out to check? One thing I noticed was that there is a plastic partition between the flame / exhaust area and the blower and the outside cover seals between them, that is kinda sloppy there, is it possible for the exhaust to find it way over to the blower side?

By the way, any recommendations on really good CO dectectors? This is the area that me nor my wife will not skimp!

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Old 09-07-2011, 11:27 AM   #5
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Hi, Pete

I admit to an imperfect understanding of these things, but as a rule, propane combustion produces only trace amounts of CO.
In a properly functioning appliance, the main byproducts are carbon dioxide and water.
Replacement of the CO detector seems to me like a good place to start- if the new one stays quiet, I think it'd be safe to assume that Okmonkey's assessment is correct- it's just the detector.
But if not, you probably do have a "bad combustion" problem somewhere, usually caused by insufficient air.
You may want to check that all of your propane appliances are burning properly- the hot water heater comes to mind, and the fridge.
Check all your "venting", too- it's often the air intake as well as the exhaust for the appliance it's provided for. A blockage can wreak havoc with combustion!

Good luck!

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Old 09-07-2011, 02:04 PM   #6
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They have a life of about five years then need replacement.. you said you had the heater on.. Is that a proper RV furnace or some other kind of "Heater" and if it is a proper RV furnace when was it built.

Is it "Vented" to the outside, or not.

Did you have the generator runnin,

Which way was the wind blowing (relative to the furnace exhaust if vented)

All factors.. I have suffered "Blow back" on this motor home before.
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Old 09-07-2011, 04:00 PM   #7
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I believe it is a proper RV furnace. It fits in there like it was designed in. The exhaust is vented out side. Its like your typical forced hot air furnace. It has a heat exchanger that the combustion gases go thru and the vent out side. The blower blows over the heat exchanger. I'm not sure if there was any wind or which way it was blowing. It was late at night. And no, no other appliances were running, I was plugged in, fridge was on electric, hot water was off, stove was off, no pilot on etc... Just the heater. I haven't been around a lot of RVs, but is it me, or are these things built pretty hokey. Sheet metal screws into paneling and stuff? Seems like when I start digging around these things I feel like they just throw them together, staple here, sheet metal screw here etc... Any reason why they wouldn't vent the heater exhaust down or away from the blower all together? Just curoius.

Thanks for all your input, it seems like there is really only 2 manuf. of CO detectors for RV. MTI with there SafeT alert and atwood. Any recommendations? Also, any thoughts on LP / CO together? Thanks!
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Old 09-10-2011, 08:24 AM   #8
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If you replace the CO detector I suggest you buy one that give you a numerical digital readout of CO rather than the std "idiot light alarm".
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Old 09-10-2011, 12:33 PM   #9
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This is the one we have. Ours is coming up on (5) yrs old and due to be replaced.
Carbon Monoxide Detector by Atwood

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