Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CO1-Warning

You can’t smell it, it has no taste and it can’t be seen. No surprise then that every year carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning causes an alarming amount of serious injuries and deaths throughout the UK. The gas is produced when carbon-based fuels fail to burn properly. If inhaled it can stop oxygen reaching your organs, cells and tissues. As well as the risk of death prolonged exposure to the gas can leave people with paralysis and brain damage.

Combustion appliances of any kind run the risk of releasing carbon monoxide into your home. The most likely of these appliances are central heating boilers, fireplaces and water heaters. There are certain signs to look out for that can indicate that complete combustion is not being achieved. For example, brown and yellow staining as well as soot collecting around appliances would suggest there is a problem. Windows with increased condensation, frequently blown pilot lights and orange or yellow pilot flames also imply the possibility of an issue with combustion.


Maintenance is key with fixed appliances so it is always good to recommend that customers regular services. Most of the problems are caused from back-drafts and blockages in flues or from blocked, loose or incorrect vent pipes. Shared flues can also cause a variety of problems, especially in multi-storey and multi-occupancy buildings where CO can leak or become transported to other parts of the buildings, with all of these potential problems detection is vital.

If you’re installing an appliance make sure you offer to fit CO in the appropriate locations. Carbon monoxide can be far from obvious to detect without the correct equipment or help, so it is highly important to raise as much awareness as possible! To stay as safe a CO alarm should ideally be placed in every room that contains a fuel-burning appliance. There is a myth that Carbon Monoxide is denser than air and that these alarms should therefore be fitted lower on the wall, however Carbon Monoxide is in fact lighter than air and diffuses evenly throughout the room.