RV Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going Off? This Is Why

Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous substance that can quickly lead to death if exposed to for even short periods of time. 

Carbon monoxide poisoning is something that can happen in RV’s. If your RV carbon monoxide detector keeps going off, there are a few possibilities why. 

First and foremost, it means that there might be carbon monoxide in your RV. However, it could also mean that the carbon monoxide detector is just very old, or that it simply needs new batteries.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide is a specific type of gas. Its scientific symbol is CO. This is a completely colorless and odorless gas. Carbon monoxide is formed when the process of combusting fuels is incomplete. Generally speaking, the combustion of fossil fuels in general creates certain levels of carbon monoxide. 

This is the case whether you are running your car with gasoline or burning propane in your grill. Carbon monoxide gas is extremely poisonous.

This gas, or to be specific the molecules, will displace oxygen in the human body. This means that effectively speaking, a person who is surrounded by carbon monoxide will suffocate. 

It is therefore vital that recreational vehicles such as motor homes, as well as all houses and apartments, have carbon monoxide detectors.

Now, if your carbon monoxide detector goes off, it could be due to carbon monoxide, or an issue with the detector itself.

Related: 4 Reasons Your Propane Detector Is Going Off.

Why Carbon Monoxide Is Dangerous Inside Your RV

As mentioned above, carbon monoxide is of course very dangerous. This is the case whether it’s in your RV, your car, or your house. As discussed above, carbon monoxide molecules, when inhaled, will displace oxygen molecules. 

The result here is that your lungs get filled with carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. Effectively, this means that you will suffocate due to a lack of oxygen. 

More than just suffocation, when carbon monoxide molecules replace all oxygen molecules in your bloodstream, it leads to extremely serious tissue damage, and eventually death.

The bottom line is that carbon monoxide is dangerous because it can and will kill you and anybody else.

4 Reasons Why Your RV Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going Off

RV Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going Off

OK, so, you are dealing with a carbon monoxide detector that just keeps going off. So, why is this the case? Well, there are four main reasons why their carbon monoxide detector might keep going off.

1. The Carbon Monoxide Detector is Doing Its Job

The first reason is that it’s actually doing its job. In other words, you have a fully functioning carbon monoxide detector that is detecting traces or high amounts of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere around it. This could be in your house, your RV, or anywhere else.

If your carbon monoxide detector is going off and you suspect that it is actually due to carbon monoxide, there are a few things that you should do. First of all, you need to turn off anything that combusts any kind of fossil fuel.

This includes fireplaces, central heating units, barbecues, cookers, and anything else. You then also want to open all doors and windows to get fresh air into the area. 

The next thing that you want to do is to then call a qualified technician that knows how to handle the issue. If you notice that anybody is experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, then you immediately want to call the fire department, technicians, and move to an area that has fresh air. 

Keep in mind that carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include headaches, vomiting, dizziness, and unconsciousness, which will then be followed by death.

In the vast majority of cases, you will only have carbon monoxide in your home or RV if a fuel burning appliance has not been well maintained.

If you simply don’t have anything present that burns fuel, then it is very unlikely that the detector is actually detecting carbon monoxide.

If this is the case, move on to our next sections, and these all explain why your carbon monoxide detector is going off.

2. The Carbon Monoxide Detector Is Cheap And Defective

Another very real possibility here is just because it is a cheap and low-grade model. Some models are extremely sensitive and not all that accurate.

For one, they may give off an alarm even if there are extremely small amounts of carbon monoxide in the air. If you have a carbon monoxide detector that doesn’t have a proper ventilation system, carbon monoxide levels may build up inside of it, thus causing it to give off a false alarm.

There are also some really cheap and low-grade carbon monoxide detectors that may be set off by a variety of other substances, with a variety of petrol fumes and hydrogen gas being some of them. 

There is also just the fact that cheap and low-grade carbon monoxide detectors may not function properly at all. Their sensors may just be broken or not work right in the least.

Cheap carbon monoxide detectors may also give off false alarms, and then come with instruction manuals that don’t really tell you anything of value. 

Therefore, the official recommendation here is that you invest in a high-quality carbon monoxide detector that has great reviews and is proven to work. There is no sense in investing in a super cheap carbon monoxide detector that won’t be able to do its job.

3. The Carbon Monoxide Detector Is Old

Another reason could simply be that your carbon monoxide detector is coming to the end of its lifespan.

Most normal carbon monoxide detectors will last for anywhere from 5 to 7 years. The older they get, the more unreliable they become. 

Those sensors get old, their calibration wears down, and they just break. If your carbon monoxide detector is making some kind of intermittent chirping or beeping sound, it’s a sign that it’s getting to the end of its lifespan.

Some units may even come with a feature that tells you that they need to be replaced when they are old.

4. The Carbon Monoxide Detector Needs New Batteries

Another common reason is simply because the batteries are running out. These detectors usually come with systems that will warn you when the battery is running out. 

This is of course designed so that you replace the battery when needed so that the detector can then actually function when there is carbon monoxide present. 

Generally speaking, the end of life sound is going to be different from the battery life sound, which will also be different from the sound that the detector creates when it actually senses carbon monoxide.

Therefore, it is a good idea to familiarize self with the different noises that these detectors can make.

How To Replace An RV Carbon Monoxide Detector

Replacing a carbon monoxide detector is very easily done by following the steps as we have outlined below.

  1. If your carbon monoxide detector is screwed to a wall or a roof, you will need the appropriate screwdriver to unscrew the screws. Some models may also come complete with bases that you just clip the detector into.
  2. If the model you have has its own base, then you would be wise to replace it with the exact same one. This means that you won’t have to install a new base.
  3. With your new detector purchased, insert the batteries into it as needed. Different carbon monoxide detectors will have a variety of methods on how to activate them. Simply follow the instructions on the product that you have purchased.
  4. Clip the carbon monoxide detector back into the base, or screw it into the roof or wall of your RV as needed.

How Often Should I Test My RV Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Most people would recommend that you check the carbon monoxide detector in your RV every single time you use the RV.

This is especially the case if you are just breaking out your RV for the first time in the season. Checking to see if your carbon monoxide detector is working is very easily done. 

Just look at it and make sure that the red warning light flashes once every 30 seconds. If the red warning light is flashing, and it’s not making any beeping or chirping sounds, then it is good to go. 

In terms of how often these need to be replaced, keep in mind that around once every 5 to 7 this is generally recommended. However, this does of course depend on the exact carbon monoxide detector model in question.


Although carbon monoxide may be to blame, it’s a lot more common that it’s just a faulty carbon monoxide detector, or one that is just old, or doesn’t have enough battery life left.

Madeline Cooper