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Old 04-16-2012, 06:16 PM   #1
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Default CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

On Saturday morning I was camping in my 2011 PW Plateau and it was cold in the mountains. I turned the furnace on and then got up, without getting out of my sleeping bag b/c the furnace had just gotten going and shuffled to the sink to see if the water had gotten hot yet. At the sink I discovered that there was air in the lines (likely from me draining the lines) and I was making sure the hot water tank hadn't gotten drained and shuffled into the bathroom to turn on the hot tap there when I shuffled out, the CO2/LP gas detector started wailing!!!! After some not so quick thinking I opened the van door (after fumbling with the lock), turned off the furnace, the fridge and the hot water heater and shut off the propane at the remote switch. I then went to get my dad since he was camped a few feet away! The alarm shut itself off, so I attempted to go back into the van. When I stepped in I picked up my sleeping bag from where I ditched it when I got out of the van and as soon as I drug the sleeping bag across the floor (near the furnace grate) the alarm started again! I threw the sleeping bag on the driver seat and waited for the alarm to settle down, which it did.

My dad and I gave it a few minutes of silence then turned the propane back on and restarted the fridge, the hot water heater and the furnace and I had no further problems.

So...what set it off??? My theory is that there was something going on with the sleeping bag right in front of the furnace grate and it creating some sort of fume or something? It's a backpacking sleeping bag - mummy-style - slick material.
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Old 04-17-2012, 02:37 PM   #2
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

If it was the first time the furnace has ever been used, they sometimes emit a "first use" smell and
possibly some small particulate/dust that might trip the sensors in the detectors. It has been asked
before by others who've bought brand new, and fired their furnace up for the first time.
I would suggest running the furnace for at least 20 minutes with the side doors and windows wide open
to allow the fumes to escape. Same thing happens in my home after summer temps start dropping
and we fire up our furnace for the first time, largely from dust collecting in the ductwork I think.
If it continues after that, get it checked at an RV dealer that sells/services your brand.
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Old 04-17-2012, 05:38 PM   #3
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

hmmm..it wasn't the 1st time the furnace was used, but it was the 2nd time! Your theory makes a lot more sense than my sleeping bag theory though! The 1st time I ran it for about 20 mins - all closed up - and I got the "burning dust" smell that usually accompanies the 1st furnace turn on of the year!
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Old 04-17-2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

I'm guessing that's what it was. I even had it happen in our 2002 when we first tried our furnace.
We bought it used in 2008, but I don't think the previous owners had used the furnace much.
Try a good "burn in" with it when you can, doors/windows open, and see if it keeps happening
after that "dusty" smell goes away.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:13 PM   #5
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

Do the combined C0/LP gas detector indicate by sound or otherwise what is the cause of the alarm? Is it a propane leak or is it a C0 buildup in the air?
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

Good point. I have 2 separate detectors, so the question of which problem is triggering it doesn't
come into play. If there is a way to determine which source is triggering the alarm, that would help
to diagnose the problem, if it was actually LP or CO detection.
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Old 04-19-2012, 12:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

It's only 1 alarm for both LP and CO2 - and I don't think the alarm panel tells you anything when it's going off. It's very hard to see the alarm panel - it's on the back of the ottoman right in front of the fold down couch, which was of course in "bed mode" when it was going off meaning in order to get to the alarm you had to fold up the bed, move the bedding, *then* contort yourself in away that puts your head right in the hold between the couch and the ottoman (presumably also right where the LP/CO2 has built up!

I don't think there is actually a problem, I'm reasonably sure it was a false alarm of some sort. After just having the sliding door open for a few minutes it stopped and didn't start again after we brought all the LP gas appliances - fridge, hot water heater, furnace, and later the stove (didn't run the stove and the furnace at the same time) - back up. I ran the furnace longer after the alarm than it had been running before too... I didn't turn the furnace on again the rest of the trip (2 nights), but I did run the fridge, hot water heater and stove over the course of the 36 hours that followed the alarm. I'm guessing that if it was a real problem the alarm would have gone off again. Unless it goes off again next time I'm out, I'll assume that it was something about it being new.

Thanks guys!
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Old 04-19-2012, 02:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

That might be the best way to deal with it.
Monitor it carefully, as any kind of LP gas leak or CO build up can be dangerous and even fatal,
but you know that. It's probably just first use burn off, but just in case, maybe you could fire
up the appliances long before you turn in next trip. If the alarm sounds, shut down the appliances,
and get it checked asap.

If it were me, and the alarm tripped, I wouldn't take it to an RV place. I'd look for a local HVAC
shop that does gas fitting and installs furnaces for houses, and ask them if they could help you
diagnose a possible LP leak or CO problem with your RV furnace. They probably have handheld
CO detectors, and maybe even an LNG/LP detector that they could use to have a quick look.
Tell them you couldn't find an RV shop that had a tech that did furnace repairs. You just want to
know if it's really a false alarm.
Just a thought, if it keeps happening.

Another thought about testing the air inside the van when the appliances are on.
Do you have a plug in 120VAC CO detector in your house? If so, you could run an extension cord
to the van while the furnace is running, and set your house CO detector on the floor near the
front of the furnace? If it starts screaming about CO, you might have a legitimate problem.

I use one of these in my house, and if we get a trailer, I'll add it to our safety equipment.
http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=0# ... fd6bef6908
It's a 120V AC Kidde model KN-COEG-3 multi-mode detector. It detects CO as well as LNG/Methane
and/or Propane. It has a 9V battery backup. Not too expensive.
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

That's prob a good call...you can never be too careful!

When I take the RV out my plan so far (only had it 3 weeks so can't really say "I always" yet!) has been to bring it home and level it and turn the fridge on to get it cold so it's running on LP gas. Next time I bring it out I'll also add the hot water heater, the stove and maybe the furnace (likely won't need the furnace again for awhile!) to the mix and see what happens...

I'm def aware of the dangers and had a hard time getting to sleep the night after the alarm had gone off for fear that it would go off again or that there would be a problem of some sort... Most of my life I've been rather paranoid about gas and flame and stuff...if's only been through RVing that I've gotten more comfortable with it so I'm prob extra cautious - I don't run the furnace at night (I have lots of blankets to keep warm!) and I usually just fire up the hot water heater in the AM...just the fridge runs on LP gas most of the time. I also almost always have the windows open unless it's totally freezing! But it doesn't take much!

I also like the idea of going to an HVAC guy...I have some good guys who have serviced my home HVAC system....
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Old 04-20-2012, 01:53 AM   #10
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Default Re: CO2/LP Gas Detector Question

Sounds like you've got it under control.
Good luck with it all and let us know if anything changes, or if it seems to have been a temporary
problem from new appliance burn in. It might help someone else with a similar problem.

I can be as frugal as the next guy when it comes to vehicle repairs. Why pay a tech at an RV
place who only sees a furnace problem once every 2 or 3 months, when you can take it to an
expert who does it daily, and might not even charge you because it might be an interesting
change of pace to him?
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