Gas central heating, when properly maintained, is a very safe and efficient way to heat a home. However, a gas boiler in the wrong hands can be lethal, and as such gas safety is paramount.
Carbon monoxide gas is a byproduct of combustion within a gas boiler, and is incredibly dangerous. Modern boilers are generally very safe, but it’s still important to be aware of gas safety and the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless and mostly undetectable without a carbon monoxide alarm. Many carbon monoxide leaks go undetected for extended periods of time, simply because carbon monoxide leaves the body quickly – the affected individual may find that the doctors test doesn’t pick up any carbon monoxide in the blood by the time they have travelled to the surgery.
Gas safety tips
Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause all manner of short term and long term illnesses and even death. Being aware of gas safety in your home isn’t difficult, and it may end up saving your life. Follow these simple tips to keep your home safe:
Look out for carbon monoxide signs
Although carbon monoxide is virtually undetectable without a carbon monoxide alarm, there are some telltale signs that everybody should be aware of:
Yellow/orange flames – gas flames should be blue.
Boiler pilot lights that blow out frequently
Increased condensation in the room
Yellow or brown staining on appliances, or visible soot
If you see any of these signs in your home, you should turn off any gas appliances, open the windows and call a reputable, registered gas appliance engineer
Install a carbon monoxide detector
Carbon monoxide detectors are cheap, and are the only way to accurately detect a carbon monoxide leak in your home. They should be installed in the same room as the appliance, but at least a metre away from it and at head height. Be sure to check batteries frequently.
Arrange regular services
Having your boiler serviced annually is the single most effective way to keep it running efficiently and safely. During an annual service and safety check, important components are checked and safety devices are ensured to be working. Additionally, during a service the engineer will be able to see if there are any problems in the offing, allowing them to prevent them before they cause the boiler to become unsafe. Of course, servicing can’t prevent every problem but they go a long way to ensuring the safe running of your boiler or other gas appliance.
Don’t put off repairs
If you think there may be something wrong with your boiler, have it checked out as soon as possible. Strange noises, inconsistent pilot lights, loss of or increased pressure can all be signs of something more sinister going on within – don’t put it off, have it looked at. Many homeowners worry about cost – if this is the case for you, consider taking out a boiler plan to help offset the cost of callouts and services.