Questions and comments from a Marine Surveyor

George,

I am a marine surveyor and yesterday surveyed a 1995 Sea Ray 400 Express Cruiser with a pair of the referenced CO detectors installed. The white plastic face plates of both were discolored due to heat. My infra red meter showed 145ºF on the faces and on the + connection on the back of the one I removed from the bulkhead. The vinyl bulkhead covering was melted where the detector was mounted and the wiring sheath was melted. I have heard of the same problem with the Xintex units mounted on vessels. Both the Xintex and the Rule have been reported to have failed in the same way.

Do you know of any other failures with these or other units. Are these units “marine grade” according to UL code?

I appreciate your thoughts on this.

Alison Mazon, A.M.S.®

 

Thank You, for your Questions.
I have several things to say in response.
1. If these, or ANY OTHER C O Alarm, were “Installed” in 1995, they should have been REPLACED years ago.
2. These units, like Most C O Detectors / Alarms, made in 1995, utilize a MOS,[Metal Oxide Semi-conductor] type Sensor. Many of these products have experienced internal “Over-Heating” problems, usually due to the use of inferior transformers, and the fact that the MOS type Sensor has an Internal “Heating” coil that raises the internal temperature of the Sensor to in Excess of 482 degrees F, during the “High Heat” Cycle. Figaro “Warns” the Manufacturers NOT to place their Sensor too close to the Transformer, and that the Sensor is Greatly Effected by changes in Temperature and Humidity. Figaro actually offers an IC Chip that does a “Good” job of Temp. & Humidity control; however, due to its “Cost”, virtually NONE of the Manufacturers use it.
[ *NOTE:  Many of the Early Single Station Residential SMOKE Detectors were “Recalled” due to an “Over-Heating” problem that was so Serious that they were Actually STARTING FIRES. Also, I am going to forward you some “Pictures” that show an “Over-Heating” of Recent Models of an Industrial Type Monitor made by IST / AIM.]
3. Your “Term” Marine Grade”, would bring a “Smile” to the faces of many people of the Coast Guard, who are VERY Concerned with the UL “Marine” Standards. In 1995, the UL “Marine” Standard DID have “Different” Activation Levels than the “Residential” Requirements; however, in October, 1998, the C O Alarm Manufacturers convinced UL that for “Cost Savings” and “Ease” of manufacture, these “Levels” should be the SAME. In 1995, the activation level was based of a Maximum COHb effect of 20%. As of Oct. 01, 1998, and Current “Activation” Level is based on a 10% Maximum.     4. Unfortunately, in North America a manufacturer can Continue to SELL a product made to an “OLD” Standard, as long as they can get people to buy it.
5.  Frankly, the HUGE Variations in the Types, Styles, Shapes, Sizes, Construction Designs, etc. in Today’s “Marine” Options, make it VERY Difficult, if not Impossible, to make a “One Size Fits ALL” Standard.
The “Nuisance Alarm” Potential while at “Dockside, or Tied Together in a “Party Cove” grouping, creates a REAL Nightmare for the “Needed” C O Poisoning Protection “Activation Levels”.
6.  Most “Boaters” have NO IDEA of the C O Poisoning Potential that they are exposed to on the waters. If you have not viewed the Marine Section of my Website at: www.coexperts.com please do so.

As with EVERY “LIFE-SAFETY” Issue that I have had to Deal With in my 50 Years in the Industry, OUR #1 Challenge is EDUCATION, ….. and as John Ruskin said:
“Education does not mean teaching people what they do not know, ….. it means teaching them to BEHAVE, as they DO NOT BEHAVE.”

Best Regards,
George E. Kerr, President
C  O – Experts

George,

Thank you for the very informative response.

The item that rather surprised me is you first statement “they should have been REPLACED years ago”! I really had no idea that age degradation could increase the overheat potential. Periodic replacement is a new concept as far as I know.

And, I had no idea MOS type puts out so much heat. Like too many other surveyors, if we see a working CO detector, we are elated. Just getting them to do that is a major improvement.

I look forward to your photos. I will use them during the education talks I often give and during surveys to stress monitoring condition in addition to function.

Do you have any recommendations on replacement intervals and reasons for said replacement?

Thank you very much for all your assistance.

Alison Mazon, A.M.S.®
Alison,Just another one of my MANY complaints with:
1. The “So-Called” ….. “Life-Safety” Industry.
2. UL
3. CPSC

In 1973-74, when we were writing NFPA-74 for Smoke Detection “Requirements”, EVERYONE … KNEW … that a Smoke Detector would not continue to function properly FOREVER; however, the Industry, and the so called “Safety Experts” were afraid that if the Public was told the “Truth”,…that they would NEED to be REPLACED Every 5 to 7 Years,….. that no one would “Buy Them”.
So for the first 20 years, virtually NO ONE talked about the “Replacement Cycle”. Finally, due to the “Growing Number” of Lawsuits, NFPA started a Program to “Encourage” replacement Every Ten Years. Still NOT the “RIGHT” number; but FAR Better than saying NOTHING.

On C O Detectors / Alarms, NFPA initially “Stalled” CPSC for 4 years, before finally starting to write: NFPA 720, Recommended Practices for Installation of Household Carbon Monoxide [CO] Warning Equipment.
Most of this is, as usual, “Based on Manufacturer’s Recommendations”. SO-O-O-o-o, the FOX is still in CHARGE of the HEN HOUSE  ! ! !
The ONLY “GLIMPSE” of “Consumer Protection” is in their statement: “Homeowners should have systems tested by a Qualified Professional “AT LEAST ONCE EVERY THREE YEARS”.
UL and CPSC have done NOTHING on Either: “Time of Manufacture”, … or … “Lifetime” Reliability” … TESTING or REQUIREMENTS.  The New CSA – 6.19-01, … DOES Base their “Lifetime” Reliability Requirements over a Three Year Minimum.

Please take time to Read and Download the “Be Aware” Section off of my Website, and Share it with your Associates. In fact “IF”, you, … or anyone else, that really wants to more fully UNDERSTAND … WHY … we have the Deplorable “LACK of Quality” in our C O Detectors / Alarms, all you have to do is Read Closely the following Sections on my Website, … in this order:
1. The Chicago Story
2 Be Aware
3. C O Standards

When UL “PERMITS” a MAJOR Supplier of C O Alarms continue to Sell a C O Alarm, that States right in the Owners Manual, that under “Ideal” Temp., Humidity, and Air Pressure, … the “Accuracy” of their Display is PLUS 100%, ….. MINUS 40%  … WHAT CAN WE EXPECT  ? ? ?

So-called, “Life-Safety” products that are NOT REQUIRED to be Accurate when NEW, … how in the World can you expect them to Protect you 3 to 5 years later  ?

Frankly, in my opinion that the “PUSH” by CPSC, and others, to “Make Detectors as CHEAP as a DOG’S License”, has created an “Accepted Attitude” of: “ANYTHING is Better than NOTHING”.
I continue to Preach that: “FALSE SECURITY” is WORSE, … than NO FEELING of SECURITY AT ALL  ! ! !

Thanks Again, for your questions and comments,
George
George,

Very much appreciated information and, sadly, not unexpected. If you look at many of the major players in ABYC you will find industry strongly represented. It takes a long time to get meaningful changes made. And, most changes are compromises. But, it certainly is better than nothing.

I have to publish our western region newsletter this week. Would it be possible to reproduce some information from your website and from your e-mails to me? I would not get into the political realities behind the standards, but stick strictly to the educational aspects.

Thank you for your consideration.

Alison Mazon, A.M.S.®
Alison,You may feel free to print ANYTHING that I write, or “Post” on my Website. Unlike many of the other “Experts”, I DO NOT “Copyright” anything except my “Logo’s”.

Just be sure to Quote me Correctly, and when I say: “In my Opinion”, please so state.
I just Celebrated 50 Years in the Life-Safety Business on April, 13, 2003, and the GREATEST NEED in our Industry is
HONEST Information, … not Mis-Information, …  to promote “Vested Interests”.
I have long said that if you see the Term: “Consensus Standard”, it really means a consensus of what the Industries involved “Agreed” that they can do to Increase THEIR Marketing Success and Profit, …. NOT GREATER Consumer Protection.

I am going to fax you some MOS Data from the Manufacturer of what I believe is the best of the presently available MOS Sensors.
My Opinion: MOS Sensors are acceptable for Combustible Gases, ….. NOT for TOXIC Gases requiring Greater Accuracy, and fewer Cross-Sensitivity and Temp. & Humidity
control problems.

Regards, ……………….. George

 

 

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