Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 08:43:09 -0400
Reply-To: Dan Crowl <crowl**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Dan Crowl <crowl**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Carbon Monoxide Detector
Comments: To: Jay Toigo
In-Reply-To: <46C2DCB0.50801**At_Symbol_Here**>

Hi Jay,

Over the past two years I have had my CO detectors go off in my 
basement.  Of course, I originally thought that it was my furnace.  The 
first year I had my furnace service person come out to check things out.

The second time it happened a year later I began to wonder about what 
was going on.

It turns out that on both occasions I was charging my boat batteries in 
the basement when the CO alarm occurred.

I charge two large batteries for my sailboat.  Both are in good shape.

I do not understand what is really occurring.  Does the charging produce 
CO, or is some other species (hydrogen?) being produced that confuses 
the alarm.

An interesting situation.

Dan Crowl
Michigan Tech University

Jay Toigo wrote:
> All,
> One of my colleagues and I received a call today from one of the fire 
> chiefs in our County regarding high carbon monoxide  readings in an 
> enclosed space. This unto itself would not be a problem, simply  
> ventilating and turning off the CO producing device should suffice to 
> eliminate the source. There was no active device to produce the CO, no 
> actively running fuel burning device anywhere to be found. Upon further 
> inspection, it was observed that the CO reading increased when the 
> instrument was near the sump-pump, and that the battery in the back-up 
> for the pump was without water and that most of the plate area in the 
> lead-acid battery were exposed without electrolyte. A small amount of 
> heat was observed, but the battery was not on fire. The CO readings 
> dropped in the space once the battery unit was removed from the 
> basement. The occupant of the building complained of fatigue and was 
> treated at the scene.
> The meter used for the analysis was a MSA 5 Star, which uses a 
> electronic sensor, for measuring CO. Unfortunately, wetted pH paper on 
> the tip of the meter input  was not used, which would make this a simple 
> determination. I suspect that the battery had lost nearly all of its 
> water, and was possibly vaporizing the sulfuric acid, what surprised me 
> was the  false CO reading and that the patient's symptoms mimic those of 
> CO poisoning.
> Have others in our very knowledgeable group observed anything similar to 
> this scenario?
> Best,
> Jay Toigo
> Eastern Pennsylvania

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