Worried about carbon-monoxide?

In 2015 UK regulations changed for rental properties and now require that carbon-monoxide detectors are fitted where there is a . You may be worried carbon-monoxide (CO) poisioning and you would be right to be concerned. It is estimated that 50 people in the UK a year die from CO poisoning and over 1,100 are admitted to hospital.

But what is it?

Carbon-monoxide is an odourless, tasteless, invisible gas which can be deadly to people and animals. It can be produced by gas appliances which have been incorrectly fitted or have become faulty through wear and tear and/or lack of maintenance. It can be also be produced by solid fuel heaters such as wood burners.

Normally when gas or solid fuel is burnt it produces heat and two by products – water vapour and carbon dioxide. Chemical changes during the combustion process means that two oxygen atoms in the air combine with one carbon from the fuel producing carbon dioxide. Where there is insufficient oxygen, only one oxygen carbon atom is available to combine with one carbon atom resulting carbon monoxide.

While carbon dioxide is harmless to people, this is not the case for carbon-monoxide. When you breathe it in, the chemical mixes with your blood and stops oxygen from being carried around your body. As a result, tissues and organs die.

How do you recognise the symptoms?

As you can’t smell, see or taste it, the first time you may be aware of a problem is when you are suffering from the effects. Symptoms can be similar to a cold or flu such as headache, nausea and vomiting but with no increased temperature. In severe cases, a person can lose consciousness and die. This can happen over a long period or very quickly.

So can you do?

Get appliances serviced regularly

Prevention is far, far better than a cure. Get your appliances serviced regularly by a qualified person. For gas check the Gas Safe Register  and only use a Gas Safe registered engineer. For solid fuel go to HETAS.

Make sure you have adequate ventilation

Boilers and wood burners need air. If you block air vents to prevent drafts this can stop your heating appliance from operating properly – even if it has been serviced.

Watch for tell-tale signs

If you see soot around appliances or an orange or yellowy gas flame when using a gas cooker, this is an indicator of incomplete combustion. Gas flames should be blue.

Get a carbon-monoxide detector CO Detector

These start at around £12 but can cost up to £50. The cheaper ones have a limited life of around five years. Don’t forget to test it regularly as batteries will need replacing. Detectors are useful if you are in a situation, such as on holiday or staying in a rented property, where you are not responsible for the maintenance of appliances.

Watch for symptoms

If suffering unexplained illness, seek medical help – don’t wait as carbon-monoxide can’t be treated by just getting some fresh air. If you have repeated exposure to the gas, it can build up in your system over a period of time. The only way of removing it is through oxygen therapy in hospital.

Despite the seriousness of carbon-monoxide, it doesn’t have to be a problem. Measures can be taken to prevent it and monitor it. As a domestic gas and electrical business, we would always recommend that you get gas appliances serviced every year as it will save you money through more efficient heating and reduce the risk of breakdown. More importantly, it may also save your life or the life or a loved one. That is something you can’t put a price on.

For more information about hardwired smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, visit Aico www.aico.co.uk

How to be Gas Safe in your home

Gas Safe logo - the official register for gas engineers in the UKWhat is ‘Gas Safe’?

If you are having any gas work carried out in home you must use a Gas Safe registered engineer. But what is Gas Safe and how do you know if your engineer is registered?

Well, the Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are registered to work safely and legally on gas boilers, cookers, fires and all other gas appliances.

To work on gas appliances, gas engineers must register with Gas Safe. It is a a legal requirement and it is a criminal offense for a non-registered person to carryout work or any gas appliance. If you decide to work on your own boiler, you can be prosecuted and potentially face a jail sentance.

Previously CORGI was the gas registration body but was replaced by Gas Safe Register in 2009.

Gas Safe maintains industry standards, investigates complaints and audits registered engineers to ensure they are correctly qualified and carrying out work to a high standard. You can find more information on the Gas Safe website where there is help and about its services.

How to check your engineer is Gas Safe registered

Always look for the Gas Safe logo but unfortunately anyone can download a logo off the internet so it is only the first step. Next check the Gas Safe register: www.gassaferegister.co.uk and search for details. You will find a picture of the engineer as well as a list of their qualifications. Make sure they are qualified to carry out your work. Not all are the same and if in doubt call Gas Safe who will be able to advise you.

Finally, when your engineer arrives to do the work, check their ID! They will have one  – it’s your home so check who you are inviting in. Don’t accept excuses such as “it’s in the van, I’ll get it later” or “I’ve left it at home”.

Don’t worry, you won’t upset anyone…

If you are worried about offending anyone by appearing to be suspicious, remember:

  • The law is to protect you, your family and friends and your property – faulty, poorly fitted gas appliances kill.
  • Every year Gas Safe prosecutes bogus engineers using the Gas Safe logo fraudulently.
  • By registering with Gas Safe, engineers have to maintain qualifications, be adequately insured and prove competence. These requirements all cost money so bone fide  engineers are very happy to be checked out as it stops the rouge traders getting the work.
  • If you are unhappy or worried about gas work carried out in your home, Gas Safe can investigate and provide advice.

Alcro Limited is Gas Safe registered – see About Us