Can you imagine a more dangerous gas the carbon monoxide in your home. It doesn’t have any smell and it doesn’t have any taste so how on earth can humans detected? Okay not detecting it may not be a problem until we realise that it is very toxic, now the avoiding creating carbon monoxide in our homes seems to be very important.

It doesn’t magically arrive, it is the byproduct of a problem in burning gas within a gas appliance. If there is a deficit of oxygen, cause usually by lower ventilation, then the combustion process produces carbon one oxide rather than the traditional, and much safer, dioxide variety.

Note also that the dangers of carbon monoxide are not a story for the newspapers, in the recent past approximately 30 people per year were killed by this toxic gas and larger numbers suffered health problems.

If you want you can conduct a very quick visual examination of your gas appliances to see if there is a problem. Any discolouration on the appliance may indicate carbon deposits caused by incorrect combustion. If they have a pilot light have a look what colour it is. Normal pilot light burden with a blue light, when there is insufficient oxygen we tend to see a yellow light. If you don’t see any of these features it doesn’t mean that you are entirely safe and the best way of reducing the risks to your household is to get the gas appliance serviced each and every year.

Now you don’t want any Tom, Dick or Harry servicing your boiler you need someone who knows what they are doing, someone who has a “gas safe” registration. By the way you can check if they are actually registered with “gas safe” or merely trying it on by checking the gas safe site for their check a tradesmen facility.

One of the first actions the tradesmen will take is to check ventilation in the room where the gas appliance is situated. Unfortunately, ventilation ducts can become blocked by furnishings or even external plans and this can impact on the ventilation in the room. Once it may have been satisfactory may be during the course of the year it has become completely unsatisfactory and, in the case of a gas boiler, perhaps even illegal. A chimney for a gas fire is not immune from temporary blockage, props a birds nest! Once again and external visual check can give an initial indication here but a “smoke test” will give the tradesmen a better idea as to the condition of the chimney ventilation.

If someone in your house is starting to suffer from carbon monoxide inhalation it will be hard to spot as the initial features will appear like: –

ongoing headaches
balance problems
urge to vomit

you will notice that none of these are unique and often are exhibited when someone has a quite ordinary illness such as a cold or perhaps flu.

Because of the dangers represented by carbon monoxide poisoning if you have your suspicions about and appliance and you observe the above-mentioned symptoms in one or more members of your family the best course of action is to switch the appliance off, open the Windows and contact your local friendly plumber in order to get the gas appliance checked out.

One way of getting better feedback on whether there is a problem is to purchase a carbon monoxide detector. The electronics in these devices is quite sensitive and able to detect carbon monoxide gas concentrations below those that would lead to a fatality. If you guess a detective with an audible alarm you will be in no doubt as the noise tends to be incredibly high. This is better than having no warning and again should give you time to vacate the area, improve the ventilation and call for help.

There are some lower-priced detectors which use chemicals impregnated into a card to give you a visual indication of carbon monoxide in the air. A problem with these is that you will be unaware of the issue unless you actually regularly look at the card. A detector with an audible alarm is preferable in this instance.

8 Responses to “Carbon Monoxide”

  • Mrs Duffy:

    We wish to install an airvent. Is there any particular location (on outside wall) where this must be fixed?

    We were considering 6-8 feet off the floor

  • Boiler Care Guide:

    There are no regulations stating how high a vent has to be. The requirement is that it is lined and ventilates direct to the outside. Providing that this is respected the ventilation it can be installed in most places. You obviously must ensure that it cannot be blocked or obstructed at any time.

  • Miss Phillips:

    If air ventilations were not fitted by the company when the gas fire was installed, who should I contact to fit them now ?

  • Boiler Care Guide:

    We assume that you have your gas fire serviced regularly. If so has the service engineer advised you that you need additional ventilation fitted (and that you must stop using the appliance?) or have they confirmed that the ventilation is satisfactory, as per the latest regulations.

  • yvonne:

    my neighbours boiler is making a loud piercing whistling sound for about 20 mins at 7 in the morn and again at 6pm at night , it goes up and down then goes off and repeats this. is there something wrong with it

  • Boiler Care Guide:

    It could be that the boiler is making this noise when it is first switched on by the timer. Boilers are not designed to emit loud noises and hence this must be something worthy of investigation.

    We suggest you discuss the matter with your neighbour particularly if the noise is disturbing you.



  • Boiler Care Guide:

    The unit is a self contained alarm with batteries sealed inside to ensure they are not inadvertently removed or tampered with. In summary – the correct operation of the unit is essential to maintain its protection of your home, the batteries are sealed and cannot be changed by the public for safety reasons.

    Price details of replacement and alternative detectors are published on this site on this page –