Hidden dangers in your home - carbon monoxide

Hidden dangers in your home - carbon monoxide

As it’s Winter, it’s still cold on the outside but hopefully you’re snug and warm on the inside. Just one thing though, is your boiler working as it should be? Taking care of your boiler during the year could save you the headache (and the costs) of a breakdown when you need it most – and could save your life, if you’re looking out for signs of carbon monoxide.

What is carbon monoxide poisoning? 

Boilers can produce carbon monoxide gas, which – if it builds up in an enclosed space, like your home – can be fatal. The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea and breathlessness, but it can lead to collapse and loss of consciousness too.

Warning signs of a leak include symptoms that only occur when you’re at home, but disappear or get better when you go out – headaches etc., perhaps, during the winter (when your central heating’s on more), but not so much in the summer. If the fumes can’t vent from the boiler they could make your family very unwell. So:

  1. Check your air vents, ventilation grilles, airbricks and outside flues. Make sure they’re not blocked and you haven’t covered them by accident.
  2. Check for sooting or staining around your boiler, and take action if you have a lazy orange pilot light rather than a sharp blue one. 
  3. Most importantly – fit a carbon monoxide alarm near your heating system.

A carbon monoxide monitor is fairly inexpensive (costing around £15), and could save your life. For more information visit http://www.co-bealarmed.co.uk

Get a professional engineer to check your heating

If you think your boiler has a problem and you’ve spotted the signs of a carbon monoxide leak, please don’t try to fix it yourself. The most important thing, is to make sure you’re safe:

  • Open all your windows, make sure everyone’s safe.
  • Seek medical advice if you or your family are feeling unwell.
  • Turn off your appliances, don’t use them at all.
  • Don’t smoke; don’t turn lights on (or off).

Now, call a registered engineer to check your heating. It’s much safer than checking things yourself, as you could invalidate the warranty or insurance and potentially make the situation more unsafe. Depending on which kind of heating you have, the numbers to call are:

  • Gas Emergency Service 0800 111 999
  • Solid Fuel Advice Line 0845 601 4406
  • Oil (OFTEC) 0845 658 5080

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