CO from where?

I’ve got this carbon monoxide detector. It just woke me up with a warning that I’ve got 63 PPM. - But where is it coming from?
I don’t have a car. I don’t know what in my house could be generating CO. I don’t even know why I have the detector. Is it just wrong?

Other than car exhaust, what could generate carbon monoxide in my home?

I think the furnace can malfunction and cause CO to come into the house. Actually, I was under the impression that this was the main cause of CO poisoning in the home, not cars.

No cite, just MHO, but I’d get it checked out if I were you.

Hmm. Good try, but no furnace. Electric heat.

Are there any gas appliances (water heater, stove)? Is your house separated from other houses?

I have a propane fireplace, but it’s not on.
My house is separated.

gas Stove oven? Lawnmower (at night?), BBQ, defective detector.

Are you over a coal vein that is slowly burning?

If you have no combustion appliances than why do you have a CO det.?

Possible it’s entering through a sewer pipe (it really shouldn’t be CO but strange things happen down there.

My parents have had one at their house for quite a while. One night it went off so they went and unplugged it and went back to bed. I told them it was kinda pointless to spend their money on it if that’s what they were gonna do. Anyways, it turns out that a bunch of people in the city had the same thing happen. So maybe it was just that the ambient CO levels were up that night.

What is your CO meter reading now? Do you know what it reads on a regular basis? Would 63 ppm be considered dangerous?

Is the detector portable enough to be moved from room to room? That could help immensely in your search for a CO source.

i ask again:
If you have no combustion appliances than why do you have a CO det.?

sorry I missed the part stating you don’t even know why you have the thing

Stove is electric. Lawnmower is electric. BBQ is outside.

The only thing combustible is the propane fireplace. It’s not on and the pilot light is working as normal. If there was something wrong with the fireplace, wouldn’t it be generating propane rather than CO?

Coal vein? How should I know?

Why? If I remember, when I moved into this house four years ago, I was buying smoke detectors, and my mother suggested I should get a CO detector too. It was easier to buy it than argue.

I just plugged it back in and it seems to be happy again. On a regular basis it gives no reading, just blinky lights. according to what’s written on the back, it gives an intermitent warning when levels are between 50 and 100, and a continuous red alert when over 100. So I suppose it’s normally under 50, but how far under I don’t know.

Ambient CO levels? I’m feeling more and more ignorant by the second. Normally the air’s pretty clean here, but there’s a gas refinery and a coal plant. Could unusual wind patterns set it off?

How about the fact that I accidentally burned some popcorn in the microwave a few hours earlier?

I feel so ignorant. I don’t even know what things make CO.

Carbon monoxide is formed from incomplete combustion. If something burns “all the way”, and there’s enough oxygen for it to do so, it forms water vapor and CO2. If there’s not enough oxygen, some CO is formed as well. So, anything that burns, including popcorn, propane, coal from the plant downt the road, etc., might create some CO. I don’t know anything about what level you should start to get concerned at, though.

Well, the popcorn was certainly incompletely combusted. I managed to eat most of it! I’d be rather upset if the manufactures of this device thought it was reasonable to wake me from a sound sleep to tell me that I’d burnt some popcorn four hours earlier.

Hmm. It went off once a few months ago, too. I couldn’t figure out then what might’ve caused it. I wonder if I’d burned something in the microwave that night too?

Ok, according to the EPA website, here:
CO levels in a house without a gas stove should only be about 0.5-1.5 ppm. There’s some information there, too, about CO detectors, and it seems that the EPA folks don’t think too highly of the detector’s reliability. Still, you should call someone if this happens a lot (as you suggest it does) especially if you or someone in your house is having flu-like symptoms; headache, nausea, et cetera. Don’t get all your health advice from the SDMB.

Thanks for the link Spiratu. The idea that the CO detector isn’t working is the best theory so far. I don’t have any more headache, faintness, or confusion that couldn’t be explained by being woken up in the middle of the night by the detector.

The problem is the constant nagging doubt. Does my life suck because of long-term low-level CO poisoning, or am I just a loser?

I wonder if I could rent a proper CO detector, like from a labratory or something, just so I can make sure.

If you live in the US, the coal plant down the road is not producing enough CO to cause any detectable level in your house of near that magnitude. Even if you live in Europe it’s not. If you live in China, well…no, still probably not.

Methinks it’s a bad CO detector as well.


I’m in Canada. The coal plant is about 20km away.

I wouldn’t sell that coal power plant out o fthe picture yet. When power plants start up (at least oil and gas turbines) they emit lots of black soot for a few seconds then nothing but white. If the coal power plant was fireing up at that moment (well it would be before that moment) and the winds were right it could give you some CO. BUt I don’t think something 20 km’s away would give you that much (btw we work in miles here :wink: ).
If the window was open then even more so. It also could be a car ideling nearby.

My CO dect. has a readout but can’t find the manual though. IIRC problems start in at about 80-90 ppm on the display (Nighthalk).

Anthracite if you know what are the CO (and for that matter NOx and HC’s) level(s) of a coal PP during startup?