Trouble Shooting & Frequently Asked Questions
The AlcoSense™ Elite unit is easy to use and reliable. The following information has been carefully compiled to answer the most common queries users have.
AlcoSense™ is an advanced and highly sensitive instrument, to ensure safe use and accurate readings it is imperative that you learn how to use the unit correctly by reading and understanding the instruction manual. If you do not have your hard copy you can download an electronic copy of the manual from here.
- How do breathalysers work?
- How is alcohol processed by the body?
- I had a small drink then did a breath test and the reading was high, why is this?
- How long do I need to wait after consuming alcohol, eating or smoking to perform a breath test?
- What factors can affect the reading of my AlcoSense™?
- How do I perform a breath test?
- How long should I blow for?
- When I blow into the AlcoSense™ it displays ERR, what causes this?
- What is an ASC?
- When should I do an ASC?
- How accurate is AlcoSense™?
- My AlcoSense™ won't turn on
- How do I set the time?
- I've run out of blow tubes, how do I get more?
- None of the above assist me with my problem
How Do Breathalysers Work?
The AlcoSense™ breathalyser measures the concentration of alcohol vapour in a persons breath. Contrary to popular belief the alcohol is not coming from residue in the person's mouth but is actually evaporating from the blood that passed through the lungs when breathing. The amount of alcohol evaporating from the lungs is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol in the persons blood stream making it possible to accurately judge the persons level of intoxication.
How Alcohol Is Processed by the Body
When you drink, alcohol is absorbed into the blood stream through the stomach and small intestine. The more you drink the more is absorbed. After approximately one hour the alcohol is distributed equally around the blood stream.
As blood flows round the body around 90% of the alcohol it contains is broken down in to water and carbon dioxide by the liver in a process called oxidation. The remaining 10% of the alcohol is passed through the lungs and kidneys. A healthy liver typically breaks down alcohol at a rate of one hour per unit of alcohol but the more alcohol that is consumed the longer it can take for the liver to process each unit.
When you stop drinking your level of intoxication may stay constant or if you have been drinking heavily it could even increase for around 2 hours afterwards. This is because of the time it takes for alcohol to reach the bloodstream from the time you actually had the drink. If you have eaten food this can also increase this time as the release of alcohol into the bloodstream can be slowed by being absorbed by the food in the stomach. This is the reason why we do not recommend the use of this breathalyser just after finishing drinking because there are so many factors that influence the reading. The ideal time is the morning after.
I had a drink then did a breath test and the reading was high, why is this?
If you perform a breath test less than 30 minutes after drinking the reading will be falsely high. This is because the AlcoSense™ will be taking a reading of the residual alcohol in your mouth, not the alcohol which is being expelled from your lungs which is needed for an accurate reading. After 30 minutes all of the alcohol residue has normally left your mouth and an accurate reading can be made. Please be aware that performing a breath test straight after drinking some alcohol can damage the sensor causing it to read inaccurately in the future. Please also see How Breathalysers Work, above.
How long do I need to wait after consuming alcohol, eating or smoking to perform a breath test?
You should wait at least 30 minutes after eating, drinking or smoking before performing a breath test. On some occasions, if you have drunk heavily, very quickly, it is advisable to wait up to two hours before performing a breath test. For more information please see click here which will take you to a section explaining how alcohol is processed by the body.
What factors can affect the reading of my AlcoSense™?
There are some factors that that can affect the reading of breathalysers whether it be a police system or your AlcoSense™. As long as you are aware of these factors you will be able to use your AlcoSense™ accuratley and safely. To help you here is a list of do's and don'ts.
- Use the breathalyser the morning after a big night.
- Read the instructions carefully
- Perform an ASC (see page XXX of the manual) regularly
- Phone us if you have any difficulties
- Have a quick drink of water before using the breathalyser to remove any contaminants in the mouth
- Have a bit of fun with your friends with it!
- Use the breathalyser for at least 30 minutes after drinking alcohol (we recommend using it the morning after, please see section “How Alcohol is Processed by the Body” in the manual)
- Use the breathalyser for at least 30 minutes after using mouthwash, breath spray, cough medicine or anything else that may contain alcohol.
- Use the breathalyser for at least 30 minutes after having a cigarette or eating certain over-ripe fruit.
- Perform a test in dirty air, i.e. a smokey room.
- Use the breathalyser if you are breathing quickly (for example, after running up the stairs) or have been holding your breath. This can falsely lower or raise the reading respectively. Wait until you are breathing at your normal pace again.
How do I perform a breath test?
Please refer to page 9 of your operating manual. If you do not have your copy of the operating manual to hand you can download it by clicking here.
How long should I blow for?
When the AlcoSense™ unit has finished it's countdown from PH19 to PH00 it will display Blow on the screen. At this point blow through the tube for approximately 5 seconds. When the AlcoSense™ has had enough breath pass through it, it will beep.
When I blow into the AlcoSense™ it displays ERR, what causes this?
AlcoSense™ features an air pressure sensor to ensure that you have provided enough breath for it to get an accurate sample. The ERR (error) message is normally caused by either blowing too hard, too soft or not for long enough into the unit. You should blow into the unit with a strength around the same strength as when you sigh. If you are not blowing hard enough ‘BLOW' will continue to flash on the screen even when you are blowing, if you are blowing correctly it will stop flashing. After trying this you still experience problems please call our technical support team on 0800 195 0088.
What is an ASC?
ASC stands for Auto Sensor Clean. The ASC function performs a deep clean of the sensor to remove contaminants like oxidisation, moisture and tannin.
When should I do an ASC?
We recommend performing an ASC if you have not used your breathalyser for a while or once every week if using it regularly.
How accurate is AlcoSense™?
It is accurate to +/- 0.02% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)
My AlcoSense™ won't turn on
Please slide the unit open which should turn it on. If it does not start at this point please check that the batteries are inserted in the correct direction and that they have charge.
How do I set the time?
Please see page 7 of the instruction manual, if you want to you can download the manual from our support section.
I've run out of blow tubes, how do I get more?
None of the above assist me with my problem
Please call technical support on 0800 195 0088.