When your central heating system is installed the installer should have carried out a survey to ensure that there was sufficient working ventilation to the boiler. Modern condensing boilers are very safe provided that proper care and attention has been paid to the ventilation in the room and that the boiler is serviced regularly. If they are not installed correctly then many problems can arise from the less problematic costs of inefficiency through to the fatal risks of carbon monoxide production.

There are some safety matters relating to ventilation that you can carry out yourself and you should perhaps make a note to carry out a visual inspection of your systems ventilation, say quarterly, to keep your family safe. If you rent a property it is your landlords responsibility to ensure that the gas appliances and pipework are safe although this should not stop you having a look for yourself.  If you go on holiday and the property has a gas boiler, eg a regular boiler, do not be afraid to ask the letting agent when the boiler was last serviced, there are too many stories in the media about families that suffered the consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning from a badly maintained boiler.

boiler ventilationBoiler Ventilation

Whilst it is hard to believe, the picture on the left is a real boiler with a climbing plant clinging to it. The problem with plants is that they can grow very quickly and they need pruning every year, the best approach is to keep them well clear of any gas boiler.

This illustrates the need to keep your gas appliance vents and flues free from any garden foliage and other blockages which can develop over time. Failure to do this will make your heating inefficient at best and could result in you putting your family at risk of poisoning from deadly carbon monoxide gas in the worst case scenario.

Flue Ventilation

You should also ensure that nothing on the outside of your property has blocked the flue of the gas boiler.

The boiler flue is designed to help the boiler exhaust gases to escape to the outside whilst the boiler is working. Some boilers also have a small fan within the flue to assist this process and expel gases for a short while when the boiler has closed down.

During the year, unrecognised by yourself, some plant growth or storage of garden materials may block the vent making your heating

If you have an open flue boiler you should be aware that new regulations will be introduced 1 June 2008. After that date any open flue boiler which has less than 90 percent of the required ventilation will be classified as a potential risk.

If a boiler is operating inefficiently it could be emitting lethal carbon monoxide gas and you would not know it. Fortunately there are carbon monoxide detectors sold which are small battery operated devices which can be placed within the room that houses you’re boiler. If there is a problem and carbon monoxide is suddenly produced the detector will emit a loud audible alarm alerting you to the problem so that you can get your family to safety quickly.

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8 Responses to “Check Ventilation”

  • George Robbins says:

    Thank you for this article and pointing out some of the things that I can do myself. I know the pictures show a very extreme situation but they illustrate the potential pitfalls well.

    Is there anything I can buy to alert me to excess carbon-dioxide in my room?

  • Boiler Systems says:

    Thanks – We hope that alerting people to the dangers can improve safety although gas boilers are very safe if maintained properly.

    There are carbon dioxide monitors sold which will sound a loud alarm if they detect the gas – similar to smoke detectors.

  • george brechin says:

    We have a combi boiler in a walk in cupboard which is vented through the gable of the house.The cupboard is 30″ wide 3ft deep 96″ high.It has a 78″ x 27″ louvre door which over years of decorating probably has narrower slats than the recomended regulations.We would like to change this door and are anxious to find out the minimum ventilation requirements on a different style door .I.E [ a flush panel door with vents cut out] Any information you may be able to supply regarding this would be greatly apprciated.

    Regards George Brechin

  • Boiler Systems says:

    Boiler ventilation is an area where great caution needs to be exercised. It is very difficult to advise online without having seen the installation or knowing the boiler type.

    Ventilation varies drastically from boiler to boiler depending upon output and flueing arrangements. In the circumstances we would advise you to contact the boiler manufacturer direct for their advice.

  • Adam Delia says:

    recently been visited by a gas engineer to start up my back boiler as just moved into new house. He explained that he could not work on it unless there was ventilation in the room. He explained that we need a ventilation block of at least 66cm squared. Can you tell me where i can get one from. Is a single brick block vent to small?

  • Boiler Systems says:

    If you are referring to a brick ventilation block they can be obtained from your local builders merchants.

    A single brick block could be satisfactory if it is of the minimum size quoted. If you have been advised that 66 cm squared is required then that is the guiding principle. The staff at the builders merchants should be able to help you.

  • Mark Firth says:

    We have a 30-year old gas boiler on our business premises.
    The company that service the boiler annually advised if we don’t attend to the ventilation in the boiler room (current regulations not met) we will be cut off at the next service.

    This boiler has been in the same location and worked perfectly well with no issues for 30-years. Can we really be cut off if we don’t undertake the significant work to provide more ventilation?

  • Boiler Systems says:

    The first question that comes to mind is why does the company that you employ to perform the servicing regularly advise you that you will be cut off at the next service but they do not do this. Either their advice is factually true and they should stand by it, thereby cutting you off, or they are merely going through the motions and hence they ought to change their approach. Is there a risk to your employees and a contravention of the regulations or not? Also why do you use them if they cannot give you straight forward advice?

    The regulations are in place to protect people, not to ensure the boiler works perfectly well for 30 years.

    We suggest you speak direct to the service company involved and challenge them to spell out in simple terms
    – does your installation comply with the regulations and is there any risk to people?
    – What needs to be corrected immediately to being it inside the regulations?
    – what you should do to eliminate any risk to your employees in the interim if it is safe to continue to operate the boiler

    As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees and should ensure that they are in a safe environment. If your firm stance means that the boiler should be cut off then this will be a short term price worth paying if it avoids injury to an employee.

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