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Carbon Monoxide safety and alarms

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C_Mababejive
C_Mababejive Posts: 11,661 Forumite
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edited 29 October 2022 at 12:03PM in Energy
The late Autumn and Winter months are peak periods for Carbon Monoxide related incidents.

The ONS collects data on CO related deaths and it is reassuring to note that over the years, such incidents have become less and less to the point where for the last few years, there have been no CO deaths relating to mains gas although there have been deaths related to other sources, most notably solid fuels ie coal,coke,wood.

Rather than wading through the government ONS website for data, there is a lot of very good information on the CO Gas safety website which can be found here.

CO-Gas Safety | The Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society

Data on deaths relating to CO can be found here

CO-GAS SAFETY’S STATISTICS OF DEATHS AND INJURIES*


It is my view that the steady decrease to zero of deaths related to mains gas has much to do with the proliference of modern room sealed fanned flue domestic gas boilers which have gradually replaced older balanced (RS) and open flued boilers and back boilers.

There is also much less use of gas fires and similar.

It should be noted that there is a rise in the use of wood burners and similar and i would expect a corresponding rise in CO incidents because of this. The above data clearly supports my view.


For those who want to install a CO alarm for extra reassurance, it is really important to read the instructions very carefully and fit the alarm so that it is in compliance with the instructions. Far too many people just whip it out of the box and sit it somewhere without a second thought. 

It is also important to not expose your detector to contaminants which could cause a false alarm or damage the alarm. Examples are aerosols, solvents, fumes from drying solvent based paints, paint thinners etc.

All new/modern alarms are good for around 7 years and have built in non replaceable batteries.

If you buy a new alarm, its a good idea to write the date on the back with a marker pen, to show the date you powered it up and installed it.

If you have the older type with replaceable batteries and it is more than 6 or 7 years old then replace it as it probably wont work. It will just be a worn out alarm with new batteries in it.

How do British standard marked CO alarms work? They sample the air at preset periods for the presence of CO. If it detects very low level CO it will log the reading. If it continues to log positive low level reads over time then it will eventually alarm. Exposure to higher levels of CO will trigger an immediate alarm.

The most obvious sources of CO generation are the combustion of fossil fuels or burning of materials eg coal,oil,gases,wood,petrol etc

It is quite possible for CO to travel from a neighbours adjoining property EG in terraced, semi detached or flats. This is particularly common with shared flues/chimney stacks and the use of wood burners and coal fires. If you can smell your neighbours coal fire or wood burner inside your home then there may be an issue.

Never bring charcoal products into the home ie disposable barbecues or similar, that have been in use and are still emitting heat.

If you are using a flueless portable bottled gas heater, ensure it is of the modern type with an air sensing device, is serviced and is used with the necessary ventilation.

Never modify,obstruct or enclose the flue outlet of your gas boiler.

Assuming your CO alarm is in date and correctly fitted, if it gives a full alarm and is not indicating a fault on the alarm then what should you do?

Follow the guidance as given in the instruction leaflet with the alarm.

Who should you call?

Well some people dont call anyone, 
Some people call the fire brigade,
Some people call the gas Emergency service.

Its worth remembering that neither the fire brigade nor the Gas emergency service offers diagnostic or corrective/repair services. They both have the role of saving lives and property in that order.

If you have a functioning alarm that is in date and gives a full alarm and you have gas appliances on your premises, and you call the gas emergency service, then in almost all cases, the gas emergency service will exercise its statutory powers, disconnect your supply and issue a warning notice. You will then have to get a suitably qualified gas safe Engineer to check all your gas appliances and carry out atmospheric testing as necessary. This is to exclude the possibility that a gas appliance is the potential source of CO.

Incidentally if you think your CO alarm trigger and/or smell of fumes is attributable to a coal/solid fuel/wood burner,/oil boilers  you can get advice from ,

HETAS   HETAS | Working together for a cleaner safer environment


 or you can try OFTEC for advice OFTEC Home | Oil, Solid Fuel and Renewable Heating Technologies


EDIT
Its really important that you fit your detector in accordance with the instruction booklet that it came with . Read the instruction book.

Do not fit it within 1m of an appliance, make sure its vertical and preferably fastened to a wall so that it cannot fall over.  DO NOT stand it on top of the appliance casing.

FALSE ALARMS 
False alarms are often caused because the alarm has incorrectly been installed (as above). Also the detector element can be ruined and cause false alarms due to exposure to dust, airbourne chemicals such as aerosol sprays, perfumes, solvents, paint and paint thinner fumes, volatile adhesives, smells caused during decorating/painting/wallpapering,cleaning agents and strong bleaches.

If you are about to start some decorating/painting/paint stripping or similar, take your CO alarm down, put it in a plastic bag and put it in another well ventilated area away from those fumes.


DO NOT let your detector lie horizontally, for example on a shelf. Dust and other contaminants will settle on the detector element and will kill the alarm and/or trigger false alarms.






Feudal Britain needs land reform. 70% of the land is "owned" by 1 % of the population and at least 50% is unregistered (inherited by landed gentry). Thats why your slave box costs so much..
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Comments

  • Glum
    Glum Posts: 57 Forumite
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    Excellent information, thank you. I would just like to add a note of caution when having appliances serviced. My neighbour has just had his gas-fired kitchen stove serviced but he said the pilot light still keeps going out. When he opened the glass door it was obvious that the pilot light flame was hardly touching the thermocouple. I asked him whether the technician had checked his fresh air inlet and he said he didn't check it because he doesn't have one! He also didn't test the CO alarm because he doesn't have one either. I was quite shocked but my neighbour is utterly convinced that everything must be fine because the technician was qualified and registered. To compound the problem, he won't make a complaint because the guy was cheap and recommended by a relative. I advised him to get a different technician to fix his pilot light and sort out the ventilation problem.

    I'm sure there are lots of competent installers and service technicians out there but my own recent experiences are equally worrying and, considering the safety implications, I do wonder if enough auditing is being carried out.
  • ariarnia
    ariarnia Posts: 4,225 Forumite
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    thank you for this thread. i admit i am a little paranoid about carbon monoxide and gas in general. i grew up in an electric and oil house and i was in my mid-20s before i lived anywhere with a gas cooker so i'm just even now not that comfortable with the idea. we have a carbon monoxide detector in the lounge near the log stove. near the boiler at the top of the stairs. and on in each of the bedrooms. a local plumber comes and checks the boiler every year (he was the one our old landlord used before we bought the house from him and we just kept it up even though its now not a legal requirement) and we got the gas cooker disconnected (i'm negotiating what replaces it with OH). 

    i really like the legislation scotland introduced maybe last year about alarms. and that it included carbon monoxide alarms. i hope they do something similar here. 
    Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. Anne Lamott

    It's amazing how those with a can-do attitude and willingness to 'pitch in and work' get all the luck, isn't it?

    Please consider buying some pet food and giving it to your local food bank collection or animal charity. Animals aren't to blame for the cost of living crisis.
  • Glum
    Glum Posts: 57 Forumite
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    C_Mababejive said:
    Its worth remembering that neither the fire brigade nor the Gas emergency service offers diagnostic or corrective/repair services. They both have the role of saving lives and property in that order.
    It may vary from area to area but following my recent gas leak, the emergency engineer from Northern did confirm the leak with a pressure test at the meter and then tried a gas detector in various rooms but didn't find the leak, even though it was in an obvious place and losing around 3 cubic metres a day. Lesson learned: you (and the engineer) can't always smell a gas leak.
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 33,253 Forumite
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    Thank you. I have a carbon monoxide detector by my boiler, but it never occurred to me to have one in the room where the open fire is. This year’s Chimney Sweep suggested it, none of the others I’ve had in the last 20 years have ever mentioned getting one.
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • ariarnia
    ariarnia Posts: 4,225 Forumite
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    molerat said:

    i really like the legislation scotland introduced maybe last year about alarms. and that it included carbon monoxide alarms. i hope they do something similar here. 
    What ?  Insisting that a perfectly adequate system that can cost as little as around £25 is not good enough and one that costs  £200 is the minimum acceptable standard with little proof it is that much superior especially in respect to CO. Another of their spending other people's money policies.

    making it compulsory to have working alarms fitted. i dont know the detail of the systems. 
    Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. Anne Lamott

    It's amazing how those with a can-do attitude and willingness to 'pitch in and work' get all the luck, isn't it?

    Please consider buying some pet food and giving it to your local food bank collection or animal charity. Animals aren't to blame for the cost of living crisis.
  • The_Green_Hornet
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    ariarnia said:
    molerat said:

    i really like the legislation scotland introduced maybe last year about alarms. and that it included carbon monoxide alarms. i hope they do something similar here. 
    What ?  Insisting that a perfectly adequate system that can cost as little as around £25 is not good enough and one that costs  £200 is the minimum acceptable standard with little proof it is that much superior especially in respect to CO. Another of their spending other people's money policies.

    making it compulsory to have working alarms fitted. i dont know the detail of the systems. 
    Details can be found here and here.
  • [Deleted User]
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    ariarnia said:
    molerat said:

    i really like the legislation scotland introduced maybe last year about alarms. and that it included carbon monoxide alarms. i hope they do something similar here. 
    What ?  Insisting that a perfectly adequate system that can cost as little as around £25 is not good enough and one that costs  £200 is the minimum acceptable standard with little proof it is that much superior especially in respect to CO. Another of their spending other people's money policies.

    making it compulsory to have working alarms fitted. i dont know the detail of the systems. 
    It's an interesting one.  I think there would still be quite a strong reluctance (or just disobedience of the regulation) if you said to private homeowners that they must have smoke alarms, CO2 alarms or anything else.  Particularly if you said that it had to be a particular standard or model.  Just the same as if you said they must have a gas safety certificate, or an EICR, or an intruder alarm.  Quite happy with recommending them though - and the F&RS will often provide a smoke alarm if you don't have one (I see them in a lot of places I visit for work).

    It's already compulsory for buildings which are not owner-occupied to have almost all of those things, which makes a lot more sense - a landlord should have a duty to protect their tenants, or an employer to protect their employees.

    The same as having it a minimum standard for new builds - building regulations compliance is important and justified.

    But telling private citizens in their own homes that it is now compulsory to buy and fit a particular thing?  A bit big-brother-ish for my taste.

    Perhaps it will get approached through insurance policy wording like a lot of other things are.  It's not compulsory to have door locks, but if you want to claim for a theft you need to have had them.
  • ariarnia
    ariarnia Posts: 4,225 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post Combo Breaker
    edited 29 December 2022 at 6:45PM
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    ariarnia said:
    molerat said:

    i really like the legislation scotland introduced maybe last year about alarms. and that it included carbon monoxide alarms. i hope they do something similar here. 
    What ?  Insisting that a perfectly adequate system that can cost as little as around £25 is not good enough and one that costs  £200 is the minimum acceptable standard with little proof it is that much superior especially in respect to CO. Another of their spending other people's money policies.

    making it compulsory to have working alarms fitted. i dont know the detail of the systems. 
    It's an interesting one.  I think there would still be quite a strong reluctance (or just disobedience of the regulation) if you said to private homeowners that they must have smoke alarms, CO2 alarms or anything else.  Particularly if you said that it had to be a particular standard or model.  Just the same as if you said they must have a gas safety certificate, or an EICR, or an intruder alarm.  Quite happy with recommending them though - and the F&RS will often provide a smoke alarm if you don't have one (I see them in a lot of places I visit for work).

    It's already compulsory for buildings which are not owner-occupied to have almost all of those things, which makes a lot more sense - a landlord should have a duty to protect their tenants, or an employer to protect their employees.

    The same as having it a minimum standard for new builds - building regulations compliance is important and justified.

    But telling private citizens in their own homes that it is now compulsory to buy and fit a particular thing?  A bit big-brother-ish for my taste.

    Perhaps it will get approached through insurance policy wording like a lot of other things are.  It's not compulsory to have door locks, but if you want to claim for a theft you need to have had them.
    or you can't sell your house or get a morgage without one? i understand where you are coming from but i remember when people made the same argument about seat belts in cars. 
    Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. Anne Lamott

    It's amazing how those with a can-do attitude and willingness to 'pitch in and work' get all the luck, isn't it?

    Please consider buying some pet food and giving it to your local food bank collection or animal charity. Animals aren't to blame for the cost of living crisis.
  • [Deleted User]
    Options
    ariarnia said:
    ariarnia said:
    molerat said:

    i really like the legislation scotland introduced maybe last year about alarms. and that it included carbon monoxide alarms. i hope they do something similar here. 
    What ?  Insisting that a perfectly adequate system that can cost as little as around £25 is not good enough and one that costs  £200 is the minimum acceptable standard with little proof it is that much superior especially in respect to CO. Another of their spending other people's money policies.

    making it compulsory to have working alarms fitted. i dont know the detail of the systems. 
    It's an interesting one.  I think there would still be quite a strong reluctance (or just disobedience of the regulation) if you said to private homeowners that they must have smoke alarms, CO2 alarms or anything else.  Particularly if you said that it had to be a particular standard or model.  Just the same as if you said they must have a gas safety certificate, or an EICR, or an intruder alarm.  Quite happy with recommending them though - and the F&RS will often provide a smoke alarm if you don't have one (I see them in a lot of places I visit for work).

    It's already compulsory for buildings which are not owner-occupied to have almost all of those things, which makes a lot more sense - a landlord should have a duty to protect their tenants, or an employer to protect their employees.

    The same as having it a minimum standard for new builds - building regulations compliance is important and justified.

    But telling private citizens in their own homes that it is now compulsory to buy and fit a particular thing?  A bit big-brother-ish for my taste.

    Perhaps it will get approached through insurance policy wording like a lot of other things are.  It's not compulsory to have door locks, but if you want to claim for a theft you need to have had them.
    or you can't sell your house or get a morgage without one? i understand where you are coming from but i remember when people made the same argument about seat belts in cars. 
    Quite so.  If I remember correctly, the first stage in that was making it compulsory for the manufacturers to fit seatbelts - which happened some time before it became compulsory to wear them.

    Although it still isn't a legal requirement to wear a seatbelt if driving only on private land (I think). 
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