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Chirping alarm sound while engine running

Wojtus

.
Aug 2, 2020
6
Beneteau 331 Chicago
Hello all, question to you all regarding weird alarm. I purchased a 2001 Beneteau 331 with westerbeke engine this year and I sailed it with the guy I bought it from for about 8 hours with engine running for about 1 hour out of the 8. I thought I heard a buzzer/alarm sounding intermittently while running the engine but it was rather sporadic so I did not make much out of it. After a few days sailing/motoring on my own the sound became obvious, although not greater or more frequent. Today I called the previous owner and he says that he has tinnitus in his ears and really didn’t hear anything before. I went to my aft berth and laid down under the instrument panel and looked at the alarm/buzzer while running the engine in the marina and it sounds like chirping almost, once in a while. Every few seconds it will chirp, then stop for a minute, than intermittently start chirping again. The sound definitely comes from the black bell audiolarm alarm. I wonder if there’s anyone out there who can tell me what this may be. All gauges show normal temperature, all fluids are within normal limits. The alarm is never continuous for more than a sec, and mostly just a quick chirp/s. The engine does not overheat, all fluids are full. Any ideas?
 
Jan 11, 2014
5,930
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
It will take some sleuthing.

Look for a loose wire or connection at the buzzer and at all the sensors.
Check the oil pressure sender, the temperature sender, and watch the battery voltage.

Good luck!
 

RoyS

.
Jun 3, 2012
774
Hunter 33 Steamboat Wharf, Hull, MA
I have a vague recollection that one of the indicating lights on the control panel is in one of the sensing circuits. Not near my manuals so this from memory. Loose lamp?
 
Feb 8, 2014
1,216
Columbia 36 Muskegon
Loose or bad connection, or chafed wire someplace. These can be a pita to find.
 
Apr 8, 2010
1,391
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 Portland OR
One bit of maintenance (albeit, not a 'cure' per se) is to start a systematic check of all of the engine area electrical connections. And, those on the back of the panel. At about 20 seasons, there is enough time for a small bit of corrosion to increase the resistance thru terminals. Remember that 12 volts is very low potential, and it really takes very little to slow or stop it.

I have done this maintenance, and all it involved was removing - one wire at a time - cleaning / sandpapering the terminals and wire terminals, lightly greasing with some dielectric grease, and re-tightening. Takes some time, but it's not very 'technical' work. Good opportunity to check on strain relief for all wiring and chafe points.
As someone once said, "you can see a lot by just looking".... :)
 
Last edited:
Dec 27, 2012
547
Precision Precision 28 Somers Point
I had the exact same problem earlier this season with my Westerbeke 12C two. It ended up curing itself. It appears that after a very wet winter some of the connection on the panel corroded.

I started a thread on the forum when it initiated.
 
Oct 22, 2014
12,814
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
It ended up curing itself.
Not so fast... If it was a loose wire or corrosion based intermittence, it did not cure itself. It just wiggled enough to make a bit better connection or disconnect completely.

The corrosion or loose wire is still there. It is just lurking in the dark waiting for that perfect opportunity to reappear. If Murphy has his way it will happen as you are approaching a rocky lee shore, to a harbor entrance late at night fighting a bit of swell, rain and on shore wind. You'll be standing at the helm after a bit of sea sickness and 6 hours of fighting the storm. You'll hear that little "tick, tick, chirping alarm" then all the lights will go out, the engine will stop and you'll be holding on to the helm as a wave washes over the stern thinking... I wonder if that thing "cured itself".

Ok. Maybe a bit dramatic. I learned a long time ago, nothing on my boat "cures itself". It may temporarily go away. It may camouflage the former sound with a new sound or worse silence, but what ever caused the red flag in the first place is still there waiting.
 
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Dec 27, 2012
547
Precision Precision 28 Somers Point
Maybe but it’s been 3 months and hasn’t returned. I say corrosion but it may of been a loose connection. Bottom line is it was just a chirping false buzzer. The engine temp was normal. When it first happened the engine temp was reading normal and Idouble checked it with a thermal gun.

I just noticed that Wojtus did read my previous post.
 
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arf145

.
Nov 4, 2010
395
Beneteau 331 Deale, MD
I'm with @jssailem. If you thought you heard/smelled/saw something, pay attention to it like it really is something. I've learned this through a couple of scary object lessons!
 
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Jan 4, 2006
3,020
Hunter 310 West Vancouver, B.C.
What you have is NOT a loose wire or a corroded wire, but a wire with an accidental ground that is providing a path for power through the alarm as shown:

Intermittant.jpg


Without this accidental route for power to go to ground, the alarm cannot chirp.

Your search to solve the chirping problem should be for a chafed wire which is providing this intermittant (accidental) path.
 
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DNRJR

.
Jun 3, 2004
9
- - Saint Petersburg Fl
Hello all, question to you all regarding weird alarm. I purchased a 2001 Beneteau 331 with westerbeke engine this year and I sailed it with the guy I bought it from for about 8 hours with engine running for about 1 hour out of the 8. I thought I heard a buzzer/alarm sounding intermittently while running the engine but it was rather sporadic so I did not make much out of it. After a few days sailing/motoring on my own the sound became obvious, although not greater or more frequent. Today I called the previous owner and he says that he has tinnitus in his ears and really didn’t hear anything before. I went to my aft berth and laid down under the instrument panel and looked at the alarm/buzzer while running the engine in the marina and it sounds like chirping almost, once in a while. Every few seconds it will chirp, then stop for a minute, than intermittently start chirping again. The sound definitely comes from the black bell audiolarm alarm. I wonder if there’s anyone out there who can tell me what this may be. All gauges show normal temperature, all fluids are within normal limits. The alarm is never continuous for more than a sec, and mostly just a quick chirp/s. The engine does not overheat, all fluids are full. Any ideas?
I recently had the same probelm all seemed ok but at low RPM the chirping would come back. Turns out the alternator belt was too loose. All is good now. Check it out.
 

Wojtus

.
Aug 2, 2020
6
Beneteau 331 Chicago
I recently had the same probelm all seemed ok but at low RPM the chirping would come back. Turns out the alternator belt was too loose. All is good now. Check it out.
That is exactly what I am experiencing at low RPMs. Thanks for the suggestion, will try to tighten the belt!
 
Mar 6, 2008
530
Catalina 1999 C36 MKII #1787 Coyote Point Marina, CA.
The intermittent chripping is due to engine vibration. The high water temperature sensor is vibrating at certain engine rpm causing the buzzer to buzz. You can prove this condition by disconnecting the sensor wire and see if the buzzing stopps. To correct this condition must replace engine rubber mounts.
Let us know what you find.
 
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Oct 24, 2010
2,254
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
Check each engine alarm function. Overheat with the test switch, oil pressure and alternator with jumpers. Just to be sure your warning systems are working. You may need an engine shop manual for a proper check.

Ken
 
Jul 1, 2010
762
Seaward 25, Catalina 350 Erie, Pa
The comment above by Joe White is an interesting one. Last season we had an intermittent buzz on our audible alarm that I decided was caused by a resonance vibration at certain engine rpm's. Last winter, pulled the transmission for rebuild, new damper plate, PSS seal, shaft and cutless bearing ( not related to buzz). Anyhow, also realigned motor after work this spring. Noticed buzz is now gone as well. I assumed the resonance was just causing the buzz plate to vibrate in the alarm unit on the console. Our boat is a Catalina 350 with a Westerbeke M35b. It didn't seem to have any unusual vibrations before my repair, just a chattering damper plate. So, you may just have a vibration issue not an electrical fault
 
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