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MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Is my carbon monoxide alarm defective?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (18970 points ) August 9th, 2010

Yesterday, I left the gas stove on all day by accident. At no point did my carbon monoxide alarm go off, despite being a whole 3 feet away from the stove. Does this mean it’s defective, or just that the gas levels didn’t reach high enough levels?

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25 Answers

critter1982's avatar

It could be either really. If your stove was on but your vent was also on over your stove this could have been carrying most of the CO outside. Or if you had fans on in the house, that could have been dispersing the CO such that the PPM level was not reached to sound an alarm. If I were you though I’d get a professional in to test the alarm. Don’t just use the button to test the system this really only tells you that the alarm is functioning.

JLeslie's avatar

When you say you left the gas stove on all day, do you mean the flame on? Then the Carbon Monoxide would not be a problem. If you mean you left the gas open with no flame lit, and the CM alarm never went off then that is a cause for concern.

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily Huh. Scary. Did your house smell like gas when you arrived? If it did not smell probably the gas was venting sufficiently. I wonder if those gases are lighter or heavier than air? Like if your detector is low to the floor, maybe the gases were higher up, or vice versa. I’d kind of like to know myself. I have two CM detectors and I have them plugged in down in a typical height wall outlet, about a foot and a half off of the floor.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

No flame means no carbon monoxide. CM is a by product of combustion. The gas wouldn’t set of the CM detector, only a gas detector. I got a good dose of CM once. It will leave a metallic taste in your mouth, upset your stomach and leave you with a headache. It’s worth getting them checked out anyway.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe So then what was I smelling? Was it toxic?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Was it a rotten egg smell?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Yes. I just thought one of my cats was really gassy…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You were smelling the gas. It’s odorless by itself, but they add a chemical to it so if you have a gas leak you smell that odor. You weren’t in danger of carbon monoxide poisioning, just in danger of blowing the place up if enough gas accumulates.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Oh. I thought the reason they added the smell was because it was toxic, and that’s why all the gas company ads around town say “smell natural gas? get out quick!”.

I guess I was really lucky, then, because I lit a candle to combat the smell…

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Holy Christ. They want you to get out because it can explode. You better try a few lottery tickets in the next day or so. I’m going to ask this question of the collective.

JLeslie's avatar

Good God. Lit a candle?!

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@JLeslie I really just thought my cat had killer farts….

JLeslie's avatar

@papayalily You were lucky. I have a friend who half blew up her kitchen, she suffered a few burns herself, but not too bad. All in all she was lucky also.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

A coworker’s propane tank dislodged in a heavy storm a few years ago and filled the cellar of their house with gas. It blew up, and the biggest piece of debris was smaller than a ruler. Absolutely nothing was left of the house. There was pices of stuff in the trees on both sides of the road, just all over the place. If anyone had been home they would have been dead meat.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe why did you say there was no danger of CM poisoning? I thought gas heaters, ranges, ovens have CM in the gas.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

No flame means no combustion. The carbon monoxide is not produced unless there is combustion, actually kind of incomplete combustion. Complete combustion would tend towards more carbon dioxide, which also kills, just not as affectively.

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I am confused. I thought if the flame is burning no worries. It is a leak that is a concern.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Both the gas and the CM are concerns, but for different reasons. The gas could cause an explosion if there’s no flame and the stove is on. The CM is the concern if there’s a flame and it’s not properly ventilated. Does that clarify it?

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe But, where is my stove vented for instance?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Does it have a stovepipe running up the back?

JLeslie's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe Not that I know of, but maybe it is behind the wall? What about ventless fireplaces?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Ventless was going to be my next question. The newer stoves burn clean enough they don’t need a stand alone vent. They’re vented into the room, and as long as they function correctly they don’t produce enough carbon monoxide to be dangerous. If they malfunction that is when you need the alarms.

dcma69's avatar

How old is the alarm? The sensors usually have a lifetime of about 5 years. You say you left the gas on, thats propane and the CO alarm will not alert you about that, theres no need because you will smell it, it stinks. CO gas is odorless and tasteless. Read more here: http://www.digitalcarbonmonoxidealarms.com

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