How do you quickly checking for carbon monoxide problems?

If you see stains, soot or coloration on or near gas boilers, and also gas appliances such as water heaters this could indicate that you have a potential problem. You can also check pilot lights and other gas flames that normally burn blue through an inspection chamber if fitted. You should call in a trained engineer to maintain your heating system if you notice that the pilot light starts to burn with a yellow light.

Carbon Monoxide is one of the most poisonous gases and it is undetectable with no smell or taste. The gas is a by product of combustion with insufficient oxygen supply such as can happen in a badly ventilated boiler. In normal gas appliance operation carbon dioxide is a harmless by-products. If the combustion is ineffective there is a danger that carbon dioxide is replaced by carbon monoxide. Following the adoption of regular boiler servicing and regulations governing ventilation levels deaths from Carbon Monoxide have been held at 30 per annum although there are many more injuries from poisoning.

How do I protect everyone from Carbon Monoxide and potential poisoning?

The underlying cause of carbon monoxide production is lack of ventilation to a gas flame. Checking the components of the exhaust gases should be a standard part of a gas boiler and appliance maintenance visit from a trained engineer and this will give early warning of any ventilation issues. To ensure that you get expert appliance service you should check the qualifications of your plumber or heating engineer. “Gas safe” is a good logo to look for. there are now commonly available electronic carbon monoxide detectors for the home. These check for the presence of the gas and contain a loud alarm to alert you if required. Air vents maintain the required air flow to you gas appliances and it is important that these are kept free of any obstructions as this could result in a reduced flow of air. Also regularly inspect for plants which might be growing near a vent outside as over the course of a year they can also block them. Chimney ventilation can become obstructed in the summer by a birds nest and you may not notice id a fire is not used in the summer so a visual inspection should be incorporated in your home maintenance plans. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors make different sounds. You should ensure that your family know the differences so that they take the correct action when one of your detectors is triggered.

Are there any early warning signs?

Carbon Monoxide poisoning exhibits symptoms which can appear like other illnesses, for example: –
– frequent headaches
– queasiness
– fatigue
– urge to vomit

On identification of any of these symptoms gift to fresh air straightaway. When you have ensured that all your family or safe with care you can open windows and switch off the gas appliances to improve the ventilation before you seek external help. Make sure that your family are aware that you are opening the windows and do not spend any length of time in a room you suspect has carbon monoxide.

What are the features of a good detector?

Ensure that the detector you get is certified to the appropriate British Standards and has a loud alarm. A menu on set of features in a CO detector will be a good life battery and irritating alarm! Often reviews will show that Battery powered detectors are are more practical than the units which use chemical reactions to detect the gas. These operate on a provisional basis and the change of colour of chemicals on a sheet of paper to confirm that the gas has been detected. Chemical detectors have 6 month lifetimes and are not cost effective in the long run as they have to be replaced often. Audible alarms are a significant advantage if CO levels rise at night as the noise will wake you and your family. In addition to do it yourself stores carrying these detectors you may be able to purchase an approved model from your utility company.

Do the stores stock carbon monoxide detectors?

You now have a choice of detector types and most of these are available in the shops or online. CO detectors monitor for any buildup of this gas over time and are triggered at a predetermined level. CO detectors are not yet as common as smoke detectors in your home but they are becoming more common and they are an important early warning mechanism. While Carbon monoxide detectors are a valuable addition to your home protection measures they are not a substitute for proper appliance maintenance and servicing.

The benefits of putting in a Carbon Monoxide detector

The purpose of a detector is to let you know of a problem before you start to observe the symptoms in your family members. Acting rather like a mine canary the should trigger long before levels of the gas would cause you a problem. Carbon monoxide detectors have installation requirements separate from those of smoke detectors and you need to look at the manufacturers instructions.

Test, test and test again

Make sure that the detector is working correctly by testing it regularly. Test CO alarms at least once a month and replace them according to the service instructions if found to be defective. You should note that the ‘test’ button on a co detector will test the alarm rather than confirm that the detector is detecting carbon monoxide. You should note when the detector needs to be replaced, some have an operating life of only 48 months. There are detectors on sale which can operate for 60 months In addition to battery models there are some that are mains powered and have battery backup to cover power failures. The choice is yours. Some detectors incorporate smoke detection and also carbon monoxide gas detection. They will have their own installation instructions which you should follow closely.

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