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Gas Fume Detector

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  • Gas Fume Detector

    Hello all:

    I am about to buy my first boat (used). It will probably be a 1980s 24-27 foot stern drive.

    I am also a big believer in prevention for safety, so I want to buy a gasoline fume detector for the engine compartment. There are many varieties online and of course all claim to work well. There are also big price differences among the units. While I don't want to waste money, I also don't want to save a few bucks and get a unit that doesn't work well.

    What detectors can you guys recommend? Automatic blower activation or not?

    Also, would it help to install temperature detectors at various places in the engine compartment?


  • #2
    I've had fume detectors on all my boats. They can be a pain sometimes if they go off but also a blessing.

    I had one go off while we were coming back in a storm in Lake Huron. It was a single engine and we didn't want to kill the motor to investigate, but pulled open the hatch. The alarm silenced when the hatch was open. Could not see anything concerning so we kept going and the alarm did not sound again. It was a carb engine. Not sure what set it off but the boat was pitching and heeling good in the storm.

    Had one go off twice on my current boat.

    The first time I was out with my son, who was about 2 at the time. We were on the bridge and just cruising around when the alarm started going off. I was in "quite the pickle", as I had to keep an eye on him but also figure out (quickly!) what was going on with the alarm and if there was a gas problem somewhere. When I got the engine cover open, I found out my stbd engine exhaust clamp had broken and the 4" exhaust hose had some off - below the waterline!! There was water coming out the engine exhaust into the bilge, but also water coming into the boat from the 4" exhaust pipe to the transom!! I quickly shut down the stbd engine, but had to figure out some way to stop the water coming in from the transom. Ended up getting a bag wrapped around the exhaust outlet at the transom but the biggest problem was keeping an eye on my son while I was running up and down the ladders and steps. Talk about multi-tasking!!! If I had NOT had the fume sensor, we likely would have sunk. Even if I had a high-water alarm, it would have been too far gone before that went off.

    The second time was while cruising solo and on the bridge, the alarm went off. I was in a deep river with a current so I didn't want to kill the engines. I quickly went below to open the engine compartment and it was full of smoke but no fire (I also have a halon system and that did not deploy so I wasn't thinking "fire"). Turned out the smoke was steam, but I couldn't tell which engine. After a minute or so if letting it air out, I could tell it was the stbd engine (again?). An exhaust hose had burst. I was able to get into a marina on one engine where I made temporary repairs to the hose and then made it back to my marina. Turned out my impeller was the real culprit but was pumping enough to keep the engine cool but not the exhaust. I suppose if the exhaust had gotten hot enough, the hoses could have started burning.

    I've had them go off as 'nuisance' alarms though too...which is very annoying. Took a while to figure out that the old sound-deadening foam was breaking down which would cause the alarm to go off, especially when the temperature changed a bunch - either from the engines running or on a hot sunny day.

    I have Safe-T-Alert but I think Xintex makes good ones too.

    I'd do a water pressure sensor after the raw water pump before temp sensors.


    • #3
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      I have a basic Xintex one that I installed about 4 years ago. It has not false alarmed in that time. Just make sure to put the sensor in a spot that that does not get wet.
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