Safety first: Gas appliances and carbon monoxide


All gas appliances need a certain amount of air to operate safely. Poorly maintained appliances and those used in poorly ventilated areas or indoors, can use up the available air very quickly. This results in the production of carbon monoxide, rapidly creating a toxic and deadly atmosphere. Carbon monoxide, commonly known as CO, has no odour, colour or taste. It is easily absorbed and travels quickly through the bloodstream, drastically diminishing the ability of the body to absorb oxygen. Symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea and confusion. If you’re using a gas appliance and experience these symptoms, you should turn off the appliance, move to a well-ventilated area and seek medical advice. Depending on the length of exposure, CO can take some time to clear from the body. CO can be fatal in very small quantities, and we are especially susceptible to these fatal effects when we are asleep.

So it’s vital that gas appliances are located in well-ventilated areas. CO can be produced by gas appliances that are not installed or maintained correctly, and by appliances that are used in the wrong location, such as an outdoor appliance used indoors. One of the most common causes of CO is incomplete combustion. When a gas appliance is used and maintained correctly, there is enough air to burn the gas. An appliance that is burning correctly should have a crisp blue flame. An appliance that is NOT burning correctly may have a soft, yellow floppy flame, and black soot may form around it. Build-up of dust, lint, pet hair and insect nests can also cause a restriction at the point where the air and gas mix to burn. All gas appliances must be serviced regularly by a licensed gasfitter to maintain safe, correct and economical operation, especially if an appliance has not been used recently. So make sure you use and maintain your gas appliances correctly, and contact a licensed gasfitter if you have any concerns.

Remember, safety first..