Carbon Monoxide is one of the most poisonous gases and it is undetectable with no smell or taste. Restricted gas boiler ventilation can lead to its production. Carbon Dioxide is the normal output from a boiler but this can be replaced by Carbon Monoxide with reduced ventilation or a blocked flue.

Tragically there are 30 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths every year and many more injuries although this could be worse without the implementation of ventilation guidelines and adoption of regular boiler servicing.

What will I see if I have a carbon monoxide issue in my home?

Carbon Dioxide production is often a result of incomplete combustion and this can be seen as the deposit of soot discolouring surfaces near your gas appliances. Another way to check for gas burning problems is to inspect pilot lights and see whether they are burning with a yellow or other colour flame rather than the blue light of a well maintained system. Get an urgent boiler service if he pilot light start to do with a yellow colour.

What should I do to protect myself and my family from carbon monoxide poisoning ?

Carbon monoxide is a direct result of poor ventilation. Gas boiler combustion issues can be reduced by adopting an annual boiler service regime.

Gas boiler servicing is a standard service by heating engineers and central heating plumbers, you can check that they are properly trained by looking for the “gas safe” insignia. Carbon monoxide detectors, carrying a British Standard kite mark, are an important addition to a plan to protect your home against possible poisoning by CO gas.

You should also keep air vents in doors, walls or windows clear – never cover them up to prevent draughts. On several occasions ventilation reviews have discovered air vents which have been blocked by fast growing plants and you should look for this throughout the growing season. The chimney is an important source of ventilation for a gas fire. You need to make sure that no debris or strain birds nest has blocked this. Checking the chimney is free of obstructions, particularly by using a visual inspection of the outside, is easier in summer.

Are there any warning signs of the presence of carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide can be a silent killer so do not delay in anyway if you see any warning signs. It is better to act quickly if you spot any symptoms as prevarication could lead to a death.

Take action today and ensure you are able to take action tomorrow. Anyone in your house can fall prey to carbon monoxide regardless of how old they are. It is common for pets be be harmed in the same way as humans. Many times Carbon Monoxide poisoning results in typical influenza like symptoms such as: –

persistent headaches
balance problems

Your gas appliances must be properly checked by a gas safe certified gas boiler engineer if you see anyone in your home with similar symptoms. Open windows and improve air flow while you wait and ensure that no one stays in the house until the all clear has been given.

Can I buy a detector for carbon monoxide?

Good quality carbon monoxide detectors have a loud alarm and are certified to British Standards. These typically have batteries which will last for up to five years and have a loud alarm which goes off when carbon monoxide is detected giving you time to evacuate the room. Battery powered models with electronic detection are better than the paper based models which use chemical reactions to show a spot on a cardboard detector that changes colour when carbon monoxide levels have increased. Colour change detectors do not have a loud, noisy alarm and cannot alert you the moment there is a problem. Also they only last for 6 months and the lower price can be a false economy. The ability to wake you from your sleep at night is an important advantage that battery detectors have over the more passive chemical detectors.

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