While gas heaters promise a cosy night in with a hot choccy and a binge-worthy TV show, there’s more to them than meets the eye. Left unmaintained, you could be putting yourself, your family and your home at risk to some pretty sinister consequences.
Carbon monoxide (CO) – it’s the silent, but deadly gas that a faulty gas heater can leak inside your home. It’s odourless, colourless and almost impossible to detect without the proper equipment and alarms.
With many of us cranking up the central heating or pulling out the old space heaters, gas heater safety is most important heading into the winter season. On average, one person dies in Australia per year from carbon monoxide poisoning, and 21 people are injured by it. While these numbers might not sound like a lot, they are avoidable.
So, how do you know if your gas heater is leaking carbon monoxide? And what can you do to fix it? Here’s what we know.
Is your gas heater leaking carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide buildup in your home requires two things – a burner disruption, leading to the production of carbon monoxide, and inadequate ventilation of gas heater by-products.
Burner disruption can be caused by insufficient oxygen to combust the gas, the use of the wrong gas or a buildup of debris around the burner. Inadequate ventilation is related to your heater’s flue. It could be broken, blocked, incorrectly positioned or have a negative pressure gradient that forces these by-products, including carbon monoxide, back into your home, rather than out.
The combination of these two independent events is a recipe for disaster.
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms
What makes carbon monoxide so deadly, you ask? Well, it’s the fact that carbon monoxide has a 210 times greater affinity for haemoglobin than oxygen.
Haemoglobin is a protein in your blood that carries oxygen around your body. Carbon monoxide having a greater affinity means it will bind to haemoglobin in your blood better than oxygen will, effectively causing you to slowly suffocate.
Depending on the concentration of carbon monoxide in your blood, you can experience a range of health effects, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty seeing
In severe cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause comas and even death. If you experience these symptoms, you need to call emergency services on 000 immediately.
Preventing carbon monoxide poisoning is actually quite simple, but the steps are often overlooked.
Carbon monoxide prevention tips to keep your home safe
Carbon monoxide only accumulates in your home when your gas heater isn’t working correctly. So just like you should regularly have your car serviced, your gas heater needs regular servicing too.
Service your gas heater
You should have your gas heater serviced at least every two years by a qualified gas fitter. A full service from a licensed gas fitter will ensure the burner is working correctly and that the flue is venting the gas by-products away from your home. They’ll also be able to offer sound advice when it comes time to consider replacing your existing gas heater.
Upgrade the old unflued gas heater
If you’re one of many homes with an unflued gas heater still installed, it’s about time you upgrade. These vent the gas by-products right back into your room, putting you at risk of unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.
While sales are unrestricted here in Adelaide, Victoria has restricted sales of certain unflued gas heaters after the death of a woman from carbon monoxide poisoning back in 2018.
Use a professional gas fitter
When it comes to gas heater installation and services, you need a fully licensed and insured gas fitter to do the work.
Mr Emergency is an Australian-owned and operated plumbing, electrical and air conditioning business with over seven years of industry experience. Our qualified heating experts can upgrade your old gas heater with a brand new, state of the art gas log fire, ducted heater or anything in between or service your existing one.
Not only that, we understand the urgency you might be feeling now that winter is here and you’re using your heater. That’s why we’re available for same-day gas heater installations, services and repairs and even have gas fitters on standby for service within just 1 hour wherever possible.
Don’t delay getting your gas heater serviced – you won’t know carbon monoxide is spilling out until it’s too late. Put your family’s safety first and book your gas heater in for a service with Mr Emergency today.
Disclaimer: The advice and content for this article has been supplied by Metropolitan Plumbing in partnership with Glam Adelaide.