Carbon monoxide is created by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal and wood). So anything that burns fuel can be a source.
The most common potential sources of a carbon monoxide in the home include:
- Gas or kerosene heaters
- Water heaters
- Gas tumble dryers
- Fireplaces and open fires
- Charcoal grills
- Wood stoves
- Gas cooking stoves and AGAs
However, other sources can include:
- Lawn mowers
- Camp stoves
- Motor vehicles
- Power tools with internal combustion engines
- Paint fumes
- Smoking (particularly shisha pipes)
While it’s true that often sources of carbon monoxide stem from incorrectly installed and/or poor or lack of regular servicing, as you can see from the list, it’s not always such appliances.
And although it’s often thought of as a winter risk, it can be present all year round. With most legislation only covering solid and wood burning appliances, the public tends to overlook other sources and underestimate the risk. We believe this is wrong and the government should be doing more through legislation to raise awareness and protect the public. It’s worth being vigilant all year, not just in the winter, especially as boilers are used regularly to heat water and gas stoves are used to cook. And faults in these appliances can be lethal.
How to spot the potential signs of a faulty appliance
Looking for signs that could suggest a faulty appliance causing carbon monoxide in your home could safe lives. Here are some of the things to look out for.
- Yellowy orange flames
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out
- Heavy condensation in the room or on the window
where the appliance is
- Yellowy brown or sooty stains around the appliance
- The presence of smoke or fumes in the building
- Solid fuel fires which burn slower than usual
- Lack of an upward draft in chimney flues
- Fallen soot in fireplace
How to limit the risk of having a faulty appliance
You have a duty of care for people in your property and to limit the risk of having a carbon monoxide incident there are several things you can do.
- Ensure any appliance is installed properly by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer and according to manufacturer’s instructions
- Do not use the appliance if it is faulty
- Ensure the appliance is checked or maintained annually by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer
- Ensure there is plenty of fresh air in the room
- Do not allow the chimney or flue to get blocked
- Only have qualified Gas Safe registered engineers to install or maintain your appliances
- Buy an audible carbon monoxide alarm and install it in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines
- Use gas appliances for their intended purposes only, e.g. do not use a cooker to heat a room.