CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING – THE RISKS
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. It can infiltrate your home through the most apparently harmless devices, like your boiler or cooker. It is impossible to see or smell, yet it is easy to protect yourself and your family from the risks.
Too many people die each year in the UK from carbon monoxide poisoning, and many become chronically ill. By reading the information contained here, you can stop yourself and your loved ones becoming a carbon monoxide statistic.
A few simple steps, including an annual gas safety check with a Gas Safe Registered installer, could prevent needless deaths or illness as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fortunately, although you can’t see or smell the gas from gas boilers, it is easy to see when there is a strong risk of it being produced by checking the gas or heating appliance by looking at the flame.
- If it’s bright blue, it’s healthy.
- If it’s yellowy orange, this is evidence of a possible carbon monoxide presence.
- Other signs to look for include brownish-yellow stains around the appliance.
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out
- Heavy condensation in the room where the appliance is installed.
You are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if:
- Your appliance was poorly installed
- Your appliance is not working properly
- Your appliance has not been safety checked and serviced regularly
- There is not enough fresh air in the room
- Your chimney or flue is blocked
- You allow illegal gas workers to install or maintain your appliances
It is extremely dangerous to block a gas appliance’s air vents. Blocking ventilation or misusing your appliance – for example, using a cooker as a heating appliance – can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Failure to install or maintain your gas appliances such as a gas boiler correctly can lead to a Carbon Monoxide leak. Ensure you have a boiler maintenance service in place and get the right advice on having regular checks on your boiler.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a chemical compound of carbon and oxygen. It has no colour, taste or smell and is extremely poisonous. It is formed whenever carbon, such as gas, coal, wood or oil, is burned with an insufficient air supply. This is called incomplete combustion. When Carbon Monoxide is inhaled it prevents absorption of oxygen into the body and can result in oxygen starvation. This can have disastrous results, including death, depending on the concentration of Carbon Monoxide in the body.
Gas stoves, fires and boilers, gas powered water heaters, paraffin heaters, solid fuel powered stoves, boilers and room heaters are all capable of producing CO if not appropriately installed and maintained.
Carbon Monoxide can seep into properties via shared flues and chimneys and people may be poisoned by Carbon Monoxide produced by an appliance from next-door. There have also been cases where gas fires have been vented into cavity walls and led to the poisoning of people living above those using the fire.
Possible causes of incomplete combustion include:
- Problems with the appliance, such as poor maintenance or servicing
- Incorrect installation/commissioning of the appliance
- Lack of ventilation around the appliance
Failure to maintain your gas appliances correctly can lead to a carbon monoxide leak.
Severe Weather Advice
As we do not experience severe cold weather too often in some parts of the UK we can be caught out very easily in our homes by burst pipes and broken down boilers and heating systems just at the time when it is most inconvenient,
When things are still running well take these precautions
Emergency Plumbing London Number
- Firstly write down this number 0800 1 123 999 and even put it into the memory of your phone under ‘Plumber’ so that in an emergency you do not have to search for the number of someone who can come to your rescue.
- Also get your local electricity board emergency number in case of a power cut
Be prepared for a plumbing heating or electrical emergency
- Be sure you know exactly where the ‘stop cock’ is to turn off your water in the event of a burst pipe.
- Make sure you know where your electric fuse box and the trip switch is located before an emergency occurs.
- Have a torch with full batteries in a place that you can find it in the dark if your electrics fail.
- If you have a cordless phone keep it on the cradle when you are not using it so that you are not struggling to find it if you have an emergency in the dark.
Precautions to take to protect yourself in a plumbing emergency
- Do not switch off your heating over night but just reduce the temperature on the thermostat during the night.
- If you have an outside tap go out and wrap it up. It may not look beautiful but if you don’t have any insulation be prepared to tie plenty of rags around it and then put some bin liner or even better bubble wrap over it to protect it from the frost.
- Remember that the water leaks occur after the ice has melted and frozen pipes don’t leak until they thaw out after the ice has split the pipe.
- If it is really cold be prepared to leave the loft hatch open to allow some of the warm airs from the house protect the pipes in the loft from freezing.
- If you are finding the cost of keeping the whole of your house up to its normal comfortable temperature be prepared to use extra heaters in the room you are living in and allow other rooms to become cooler.
- Remember its layers that keep you warm so wear an extra layer or two and if the heating does fail just add another two whilst you wait for the plumber to come.
Emergency Drain Blockages
- It is unusual for drainage blockages to occur through icing up as most homes are putting some warm water through the sinks, baths and showers throughout the day but in extreme conditions some waste traps can freeze up.
- Try to keep some water passing through sinks not often used fairly regularly.
- Be particularly careful what you put down the drains at this time of the year,
- Waste fat congeals more quickly the colder it is so try not to put it down the waste pipes.
Electricity failures at this time of the year are usually caused by any one of three things and they all happen to you very quickly.
An appliance has stopped working
- Action – check the other equipment in the house and if that is OK then it is either the appliance or the plug to the appliance.
- If you know how to change a fuse try that or if not do not try to mend the appliance unless you know what you are doing but be prepared to call someone who does
Some of the lights go out or appliances stop working but others seem to be still working.
- Action – Modern electric circuits are fitted with a circuit breaker fuse system. If a fault develops, a switch is tripped which cuts off the electricity in part of your circuit. If you have a trip switch, it will be on or near your fuse box and your fuse box will always be near to your electricity meter. The trip switch should have a ‘push to test’ or a ‘reset’ button.
- Switches can trip for a number of reasons:
- i. An over loaded circuit – too many electrical appliances used at once
- ii. A light bulb blowing can trip the circuit
- iii. A faulty appliance
- iv. Over filled kettle
- v. Faulty connections on appliance leads.
- vi. Faulty immersion heater
- If a switch has tripped because of one of these reasons, you should flick it back on and then re plug items one by one. If the switch trips again, you will know that that particular item is faulty so take it out of the plug and leave it out until someone can deal with it for you
All the Electrics go off
- Action – it’s probably a power cut at this time of year caused by power lines being brought down in your area.
- Check to see whether your neighbours lights are on and if they are not wait a while as it often comes on quite quickly but if not use your torch and phone the electricity board emergency number in your area and ask what is happening. They will be most helpful.
We strongly advise you, just like the scouts, to be prepared for an emergency but hope that you won’t need to be.
Be careful, don’t try to do it yourself unless you really know what you are doing – call in an expert as quickly as you can – accidents in the home happen more in the winter than in the summer
Don’t become your own victim! Call in 1st Action, the Expert on 08001 123 999
DON’T PUT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY AT RISK
DOES YOUR HEATING SYSTEM SUFFER FROM ANY OF THESE FOLLOWING SYMPTONS?
Ø A Noisy Boiler
Ø Heating Circulation Problems
Ø Radiators that frequently need venting or bleeding
Ø Cold spots on your radiators
Ø Pump Failure
Ø Overall heating system is slow to start up
Ø Leaking radiator valves
Ø Reduced heating output
If so there is a good chance that your heating system will benefit from Power Flushing.
What is a Power Flush?
The Power Flushing pump is simply connected into the heating system, either across standard circulator pump couplings, across the tails of one radiator, or wherever most practicable. The powerful pump creates a pressure flow which combined with an instantaneous flow reverser device, will dislodge and flush out those deposits and the corrosion that resists traditional system cleaning methods.
Once the corrosion and these sludge deposits have been loosened and mobilised, fresh clean water is forced through the heating system, pushing the contaminated water out through a full bore dump valve to waste.
During the process, radiators are individually flushed, without having to remove them or disconnect them from the system, by directing the full output of the pump through each radiator separately.
At the end of the flushing process, the system contains fresh clean water and it can return to normal operation in only a few minutes.