Peter Lennard Heating Repairs & Servicing
...is a highly dangerous gas that can be produced by faulty gas appliances. If you suspect that an appliance is giving off carbon monoxide, turn it off, do not use it and seek help. Open doors and windows to ventilate the room.
A normal gas flame will produce carbon dioxide and water vapour. If the flame is starved of oxygen e.g. through a burner's blocked air intake, instead of being blue the flame may become yellow and give off carbon monoxide. This will readily displace oxygen in your bloodstream and even with very small concentrations can cause headache, nausea, unconsciousness and death. Carbon monoxide itself has no smell, but if a gas appliance is giving off a smell it may nonetheless also be giving off carbon monoxide.
I am often asked about carbon monoxide detectors. These are no substitute for gas appliance maintenance and safety,but if you have an open-flued gas appliance and want to monitor for the presence of carbon monoxide between services then a fixed electronic carbon monoxide alarm is a good idea. Bear in mind that carbon monoxide sends the victim to sleep so any device that doesn't make a loud noise may be completely useless if it were really needed. I often see that people have little cardboard patches with a round spot in the middle designed to change colour in the presence of carbon monoxide. If you were falling asleep from carbon monoxide poisoning you would be unlikely to get up to examine the round spot. A carbon monoxide detector should be kite-marked to British Standard BS 7860:1996 or European Standard EN 50291 and must be correctly sited. It is usually fitted at least 1.5 metres above floor level and 1.85 metres away from the gas appliance being monitored, but always read each individual detector's fitting instructions. Detectors have a limited lifespan. One of the longest is the electrochemical cell type, which may last as long as 5 years.
Note: if you have a coal fire and the chimney gets blocked by something such as a jackdaw's nest, or the room it is in has inadequate ventilation, you could be killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from that too.
If you live in rented property see my section about landlords.
For more information, advice and action to take please see the following sources of information:
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have an informative and wide-ranging section devoted to gas safety on their web site.
The HSE Gas Safety Advice Line: 0800 300 363.
In a gas emergency telephone 0800 111999
Lennard, Vaillant, Viessmann & Vokera Specialist
020 8674 1166
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