The importance of making regular checks for carbon monoxide leaks

UK Home Improvement

The Importance of Making Regular Checks for Carbon Monoxide Leaks

Known as ‘the silent killer’, carbon monoxide poisoning is a household threat which various campaigns have sought to bring to public attention – but just why is it important to regularly check for leaks?

The Dangers

To appreciate why carbon monoxide poisoning is so dangerous, you must first understand what it is. Carbon monoxide is a virtually undetectable gas that is odourless, tasteless and colourless. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels containing carbon (namely gas, oil, wood and coal).

Once inhaled, carbon monoxide impairs the transportation of oxygen around the body and long periods of exposure can be fatal. The biggest threat is the fact that it is very hard to detect – leaving homeowners vulnerable and unaware of the danger they may be in.

The Solution

Carbon monoxide alarms operate in a similar way to smoke detectors but are only one way to protect you from the deadly gas. Regular servicing of your boiler is another vital step in the ongoing battle against carbon monoxide poisoning and according to the NHS the most common sources of carbon monoxide leaks are faulty or incorrectly installed boilers and gas appliances.

To legally work on gas appliances, individuals must be Gas Safe registered so always look for this when hiring someone to service your boiler. The service should look at all areas of your home heating – from the boiler to chimneys, flues and appliances – and be conducted at least once annually.

Prime times to experience boiler problems are when your dependency or use of it alters – most notably when the seasons change. Boilers are put under a greater level of strain during the winter months when cold temperatures prompt us to turn up the thermostat. Having your boiler serviced in advance of this is highly recommended and the period from February to October is usually the best time to have your boiler inspected if you want peace of mind.

To keep an eye on the situation in-between services, carbon monoxide detectors fitted throughout your home is recommended.

The Statistics

To put the above into perspective, it is worth reviewing figures concerning carbon monoxide poisoning. Ultimately, failure to check your boiler regularly or install carbon monoxide alarms could make you just another one of these statistics:

• Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning kills approximately 50 people in the UK each year

• Carbon monoxide exposure from gas appliances accounts for around 15 deaths per year

• A further 200 people are left seriously ill following carbon monoxide exposure

• 10-15% of those with severe carbon monoxide poisoning experience long-term complications including brain damage and heart problems

• 8% of all homes are unwittingly at risk of carbon monoxide exposure


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