Domestic, Landlord and Small Office
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  Carbon Monoxide

Whilst carbon monoxide is odourless and regular maintenance and servicing of your gas appliances will ensure that your gas fires, boilers and cookers /hobs are working correctly we are also able to provide peace of mind by conducting CO testing to ensure that you do not have any build up of CO in the air.

How is Carbon Monoxide produced in the home?

Common sources in the home include poorly installed/poorly maintained / faulty / damaged central heating systems, gas appliances and fires. Blocked flues and chimneys mean the gas can't escape and is inhaled by the unsuspecting individuals. Burning charcoal also produces CO. Running cars produce CO; do not run your car in the garage with the doors closed.

Ensure that you use a SAFE registered Engineer for all you gas appliance installations

Signs that there might be a CO leak in the home are yellow or brown staining on and around fossil fuelled appliances, rising condensation around windows and yellow-tinged pilot lights that frequently blow out

In today's world of improved insulation and double glazing, it has become increasingly important to have good ventilation and to maintain all appliances regularly. Carbon monoxide can travel through a chimney you share with a neighbour, so invest in a detector to give you a warning immediately if the build up of CO reaches dangerous levels.

Burning fuel in an enclosed or unventilated space (with no air vents, windows or doors left open or ajar) is likely to cause CO poisoning e.g. a car engine running inside closed garage can produce a lethal level of CO in just 10 minutes

Fumes from cleaning fluids and paint removers that contain methylene chloride (dichloromethane) can also cause CO poisoning. When breathed in, methylene chloride is converted into carbon monoxide.

What about caravans?

The danger that appliances in caravans posed is often overlooked. People use their caravans a few times a year and usually assume that they will be fully working despite being out of action for the majority of the year.


A caravan is a very small space with a constant supply to a source of natural gas, make sure that appliance are in proper working order before you go on holiday, install a CO alarm as a backup.

How to prevent CO poisoning in the home

The best way to protect you and your family from CO poisoning is to be aware of the dangers and identify the appliances that could give out CO gas. Be aware of the early warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning and look out for the symptoms. You should follow these guidelines in your home and workplace:

•  Maintenance
•  Make sure your household appliances are safe and well maintained.
•  Make sure boilers, heating systems and appliances are installed, maintained and regularly serviced by    a SAFE Registered engineer.
•  Landlords are legally required to ensure that the annual check is carried out.
•  Free safety checks are available to those over 60, disabled, chronically sick, deaf or blind who join their suppliers Priority Service Register.

General Safety

•  Check the colour of gas flames - blue is healthy, yellow or orange indicates a problem
•  Never use ovens or gas hobs to heat your home.
•  Make sure rooms are ventilated and do not block air vents… they are there for a reason.
•  If your home is double-glazed or draught-proofed, make sure there is still enough air circulating for any    heaters in the room.
•  Make sure all chimneys and flues swept at least once a year and kept clear,
•  Do not use gas-powered equipment and tools inside your home if you can avoid it. Only use them in a    well-ventilated area and put the engine unit and exhaust outside.
•  Always use a safety mask when using chemicals containing methylene chloride.
•  Do not leave petrol-fuelled lawnmowers or cars running in the garage without significant ventilation.
•  Do not burn charcoal in an enclosed space, such as on an indoor barbeque.
•  Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm.

What to do if you suspect a leak

If you suspect you have a CO leak:

•  Evacuate the affected area, move to fresh air
•  Seek medical assistance - GP or hospital in case of an emergency. If the poisoning is mild, it is  important to get medical advice, but you probably will not have to go to hospital.
•  Ventilate the affected area, open all doors and windows
•  Shut off gas supply and call your gas supplier
•  Identify the source of carbon monoxide, consult a SAFE registered Engineer to make repairs
•  Get a carbon monoxide alarm in the house
•  Have a safety check carried out on all appliances

The Symptoms of CO poisoning

Inhaling excessive amounts of carbon monoxide reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen by mixing with the haemoglobin it contains. This starves the body of its fuel and causes cells and tissue to die.
Symptoms are similar to flu and for that reason CO poisoning can often be misdiagnosed by medical professionals. However, CO poisoning does not induce a high temperature as flu does. If several people in the same room or building develop flu like symptoms without a high temperature, act quickly and call the HSE Gas Safety advice line on 0800 300 363 for advice (freephone service).

• Mild carbon monoxide poisoning causes headache, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and poor coordination. Most people who develop mild carbon monoxide poisoning recover quickly when moved into fresh air.

• Moderate or severe carbon monoxide poisoning causes confusion, unconsciousness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and coma. Thus, most victims are not able to move themselves and must be rescued.

• Severe poisoning is often fatal. Rarely, weeks after apparent recovery from severe carbon monoxide poisoning, symptoms such as memory loss, poor coordination, and uncontrollable loss of urine (which are referred to as delayed neuropsychiatric symptoms) develop.

The longer someone breathes in carbon monoxide, the worse the symptoms will get. They may lose their balance, vision and memory, and eventually, they will lose consciousness. This can happen within two hours if there is a lot of CO in the air.

CO poisoning may occur sooner in those most susceptible: young children, elderly people, people with lung or heart disease, people at high altitudes, or those who already have elevated CO blood levels, such as smokers.

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because a person may not recognize drowsiness as a symptom of poisoning. Consequently, someone with mild poisoning can go to sleep and continue to breathe the carbon monoxide until severe poisoning or death occurs. Some people with long-standing, mild carbon monoxide poisoning caused by furnaces or heaters may mistake their symptoms for other conditions, such as the flu or other viral infections.

Symptoms can occur a few days or months after you have breathed in carbon monoxide. Symptoms that come on later include confusion, loss of memory and problems with coordination. People with mild symptoms usually make a full recovery, but between 10% and 50% of people with serious poisoning can have long-term problems if they survive at all.

It's very important to be aware of the dangers of CO poisoning and look out for the warning signs. As well as the effects described in this section, you should be alert for the following signs:

• other people in your house, flat or workplace have similar symptoms,
• your symptoms disappear when you go away on holiday and return when you come back,
• your pet suddenly becomes ill or dies unexpectedly (not due to old age or an existing condition)
• your symptoms tend to be seasonal. E.g. headaches during the winter when the central heating is used more often.

If you have the symptoms of CO poisoning, a blood sample will be taken to check the amount of carboxyhaemoglobin in your blood. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may also be carried out to see how well the heart is pumping blood around your body.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Which one should I get the lowdown

Domestic CO alarms are designed and tested for use in homes. Specific alarms are available for applications such as commercial premises. Ensure that you use the suitable alarm for your application
•  A CO Alarm will provide an loud audio warning when excessive levels of carbon monoxide is present in the home.
•  CO alarms are a reliable, easy to use and an inexpensive way of protecting you and your family for the dangers of CO poisoning.

Types of alarm
•  Battery powered - allows the alarm to be portable
•  Mains powered - for continuous protection in the home.
•  Some have a digital readout showing CO current and peak levels from memory after the event.
•  CO Detectors or none audio alarms are not recommended, these are often referred to as CO Patches,     spots, blobs or visual indicators as these require constant monitoring and will not wake you or alert     you with an audio alarm in case of an emergency.
•  Alarms are readily available from DIY and high street stores as well as from the on-line retailers and typically carry a one to six year guarantee.
•  Always read the instructions when installing your alarm, especially testing and care.
•  Make sure you replace the battery (if you need one) when the manufacturer says so.
•  CO sensors have a limited life span, typically 5 years - Do Not use beyond the manufacturers recommended use.


•  Make sure you get a CO alarm that has Kitemark approval and is approved to the latest British & European Standard, thats BSEN50291.
•  A CE Mark does NOT refer to the products ability to detect Carbon Monoxide, it shows that it conforms    to required European electrical safety aspects.
•  All CO alarms require a CE mark. Learn more

A CE mark does not mean that the product is safe; it simply means that the alarm is compliant with the European Standards for electrical safety and EMI (interference). It may have not been subject to any tests to ensure that the alarm is an effective CO detector at all. This may save you some money when compared to a properly certified detector, but in actual fact it may a complete waste of time.

Make sure you buy a branded alarm, there are far too many cheap, unbranded ineffective products available.

Make sure you buy from a reputable seller.

There is a level of confusion in consumers as to which products have actually been tested to the exacting standards required by UK law. It is a sad fact that some people are exploiting this and manufacturing and selling sub standard products. Buy a Kite marked product.

Spend the extra money to ensure that you buy a decent product.

Using Carbon Monoxide alarms is not the solution to the problem and you should not neglect the other simple measures that you can take to ensure your safety

Please note if you need a carbon monoxide alarm our engineers always carry a carbon monoxide alarms with them we are happy to supply one should you require one

Stuart Mac P.H.G Limited. Registered in England & Wales. Company Registration No: 9386424. VAT registration number: 137417611. Registered office: 6 Marmion Close Fleckney Leicestershire LE8 8UL - © Stuart Mac 2011