Beep, beep, beep. A strange beeping sound is alarming and annoying at the best of times, but that’s especially true if the beeping begins at 3 am when you are trying to get a good night’s sleep before another great day of RV adventuring.
What’s even worse is if you can’t figure out where the beeping sound is coming from or what it is trying to warn you about.
Other than the beeping of someone’s phone, or a particularly annoying alarm, neither of which have much to do with your RV itself, there are some common reasons you might hear a beeping sound in your RV. Here is a look at some of the most common causes of RV beeping noises.
Causes of RV Beeping
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide
Every RV needs to be equipped with both a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm. These are usually just like the ones you have in your home, battery-powered devices that alert you to smoke and to the hidden, but very dangerous, presence of carbon monoxide.
As with the alarms you have at home the batteries in these alarms need to be checked and changed regularly. Safety experts say that a good rule of thumb is to change the batteries in detector alarms twice a year, when the clocks go forward and then back again, whether or not you really need to change them.
However, because humans are not perfect, and because these alarms are so important to the safety of a home or an RV’s occupants, they are all designed to beep when their batteries are getting low. And they won’t stop beeping until you change the batteries, or until you remove the batteries altogether, which is something you should never do (except to add fresh ones.)
Another common source of beeping in an RV is the LP detector. Every RV has one of these, RV manufacturers build them in as standard and do they not run on removable batteries. An RV LP detector draws its power from your RVs battery, just like all the other electrical items in your camper.
There is a very good reason that the LP detector in an RV is hard-wired in. With smoke detectors, it’s well known that they can be very sensitive and something very simple, like cooking a meal that gets a bit too smoky, can set them off. This tempts some people to temporarily remove the alarm batteries, so that does not happen. They shouldn’t, but they do.
Disabling an LP detector can lead to your RV becoming a ticking time bomb. Its purpose is to alert you to danger. LP gas is explosive, but its fumes can make you quite sick before a leak builds to a level where it could ignite. An LP detector will warn you of problems early, giving you plenty of time to take action.
But why would an LP detector beep if it does not run on standard batteries in the way that most smoke and carbon monoxide alarms do? The answer is usually because your RV battery is running low. The fix for this beeping is to recharge your battery, but the beeping will stop right away if you plug into shore power.
Maintaining Your RV Alarms to Avoid Beeps
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Don’t want to be bothered by annoying beeping alarms? Then pay extra attention to maintaining them.
Besides changing the batteries on your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly you should test them every time you take your RV on the road. Occasionally these alarms will beep when they are malfunctioning as well, but testing your alarms is more about safety than anything else.
Another alternative that will cut down on the beeps, and is even more accurate than standard smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, is to invest in a high tech solution like the Nest Protect system.
Part of the Nest family these devices – which you can in battery powered form for RV use – can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide, can tell you fairly precisely the approximate location of the leak and send alerts to your smartphone if something goes amiss when you are not in your motorhome.
These devices are considerably more expensive than standard alarms, but if you hit the road a lot they may be worth investing in, especially as they are easily removable and could be used in your home as well.
In the case of your LP detector the unfortunate fact is that they don’t last forever, and the beeping noise may also indicate that your LP detector has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced.
Replacing an LP detector is more complicated than replacing a smoke alarm, as it involves dealing with hard-wired electrics in your camper. This video explains the process of doing that very well, but if electrics are not your thing, it may be a job best left to a professional, as a badly installed detector is a very dangerous thing to have.
There is something else you should know about your LP detector that some newer campers do not. They drain your battery more than you might think. If you leave them on when your rig is not in use – when it’s parked in the garage for the season for example – it will drain even a full battery in about two weeks.
To prevent this, make sure that your LP detector is turned off when your RV is not in use.
Some campers do have a built in battery disconnect switch. If yours does not you can still disconnect the battery temporarily very easily. To do so unhook the negative connection on the battery.
Beeping in your RV is annoying. But if you do all you can to prevent it, you can minimize it. The one thing that you should never do, and we can’t stress this enough, is disable any of your alarms to prevent beeping.
The disasters that these alarms can prevent might destroy more than your RV, they could spell your end too. So if the ‘price’ to pay for having these alarms in your RV is the potential for the occasional beep we think it’s a very small one, don’t you.
Hopefully, this piece has helped you understand more about what might go beep in your RV. All that remains for us to do now is wish you happy trails, and that your next roadtrip is beep free!