Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer – it’s colorless, odorless… and deadly!
So, when your CO detector starts malfunctioning or has reached its end of life, it’s important to replace it immediately.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to replace an RV carbon monoxide detector step-by-step. And if you have a combo RV carbon monoxide/propane detector, we’ll show you how to replace it, as well.
How to Replace an RV Carbon Monoxide Detector
We’ll start with replacing a stand-alone CO detector in an RV. If you replace a dual propane gas and carbon monoxide detector that runs on 12v power, you can skip down to those instructions in the next section.
These instructions should work for most battery-powered Safe-T-Alert RV Carbon Monoxide Detector models (which I highly recommend) and more.
- The installation instructions for your carbon monoxide detector’s brand and model may differ slightly from what we outline below, so always refer to the owner’s manual of your specific detector.
- Be sure the location of your CO detector is on the ceiling or a wall at least 4 inches off the floor. Do NOT install within 12 inches of an outside opening, 5 feet from any cooking appliance, or behind furniture or drapes. Check out our guide on where to mount a carbon monoxide detector in an RV for more information.
Step 1: Remove the Old Carbon Monoxide Detector
We first need to remove the old unit from the mounting plate on the wall. It will likely either snap or slide off.
If replacing it with the same model, leave the mounting plate on the wall and re-use it. If not, remove the mounting plate, as well.
Step 2: Install the Replacement CO Detector
If you use the existing mounting plate, snap or slide the new alarm to the plate.
Otherwise, screw the new mounting plate to the wall, then attach the replacement detector. Ensure that the pull tab for activation is visible.
Step 3: Remove the Pull Tab
To activate the carbon monoxide detector, pull the tab to remove it.
Step 4: Test the CO Detector
Finally, we will want to test the CO alarm by pressing the Test button, which is usually right on the face of the detector. Be sure to make visual inspections of the alarm and test it weekly and when taking your RV out of storage.
Tip: On some CO detector models, the testing feature will only test the electronic components and not the sensors. If this is the case for your unit, you’ll need to test the CO sensor using a can of testing gas.
How to Replace an RV Carbon Monoxide Propane Detector
If your detector features a dual alarm that detects propane and carbon monoxide gas, the replacement procedure will be slightly different.
These instructions are for a 12v powered RV Carbon Monoxide and LP detector.
- The installation instructions for your dual propane/carbon monoxide detector’s brand and model may differ from what we outline below. Please refer to the owner’s manual of your specific detector.
- Be sure the location of your dual CO/propane gas detector is at least 4 inches but not more than 20 inches off the floor. Do NOT install within 12 inches of an outside opening, on an outside wall, within 5 feet from any cooking appliance, or behind furniture or drapes.
Step 1: Turn Off the Power
We will be wiring our new dual detector into the RV’s electrical system, so we will first need to cut the power to the existing detector. This is usually as simple as removing a fuse or flipping a switch.
Step 2: Remove the Old Detector
We now need to remove the old carbon monoxide/propane detector. To do this:
- Detach the unit from the mounting plate or wall.
- Cut the two wires that lead to the detector.
- If applicable, unscrew the mounting plate and remove it from the wall.
Tip: If you replace an old surface mount detector with a flush mount model, you may have to cut a larger hole in the wall to allow the detector to fit.
Step 3: Strip the Detector Wires
Cut and remove about 1/4″ of shielding from the end of both wires, if needed. We will be attaching these to our new detector.
Step 4: Re-wire the New Detector
Connect the cut wires from the wall to the leads on the new detector. Ensure you have properly connected the wires (red = power, black = ground).
Step 5: Attach the Replacement Detector to the Wall
Once wired, attach the new unit to the wall. This typically consists of using the two screw holes located on the ends of the alarm casing.
Step 6: Test the New Detector
Turn the power back on and wait 10 minutes for the unit to warm up. Then test it by pressing the “Test” button found on the face of the detector. If your device passes the test, it has been properly installed.
Tip: On some dual LP/CO detector models, the testing feature will only test the electronic components and not the sensors. If this is the case for your device, you’ll need to test the CO sensor using a can of testing gas. And test the propane sensor using propane or butane gas.
When Should I Replace My RV Carbon Monoxide Detector?
You should replace your RV carbon monoxide detector when the unit has reached its end of life or has started to malfunction.
Most units will have a 5-year lifespan. When it reaches the end of its life, it will typically notify you with a series of beeps and LED flashes. For example, the Safe-T-Alert models typically flash red, red, green, green with a beep every 30 seconds. Atwood, Kiddie, and other brands of CO detectors might have a different series of beeps and flashes, which is why it’s important to refer to your detector’s owner’s manual.
Tip: Know your beeps! Refer to your detector’s owner’s manual and learn what each beeping pattern signifies. This will help you quickly understand the difference between an actual carbon monoxide or propane alarm versus a malfunction or end-of-life alarm.
So, visually inspect and test your CO detector often, as with all of your RV safety devices. If your RV carbon monoxide detector keeps beeping, and you are certain there’s no CO in your recreational vehicle; it may be time to replace it.