Saturday 3 December 2016

How to protect against poison from gas fires

declanf@onlinetradesmen.com

Published 03/02/2012 | 05:00

Last year we installed a new gas fire in our house. There was no major gas smell in the room but I am worried that it may have been emitting carbon monoxide. I'd like to make sure that it is safe -- can you please help?

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I would recommend that you put these suggestions into practise sooner rather than later as it's always better to err on the side of caution where carbon monoxide is suspected.

Many readers may be thinking it is all too easy to fall asleep in front of a warming fire, after a hard day's work during a cold winter's night -- but it's worthwhile making sure the source of your comfort is as friendly as it feels.

There is a simple process of detecting carbon monoxide in your home but, before we go into it, it is worthwhile going through the dangers and causes of carbon monoxide (CO). I should start by stressing how dangerous CO is to humans -- it is widely held to be the most toxic substance that we come across in our daily lives and any suspicion of its presence should be treated with urgency. CO poisoning claims many lives every year and everyone should be aware of it.

The fact that CO is undetectable to human senses makes it deadly and we can easily expose ourselves to it unknowingly for a prolonged period of time. There are, however, a few tell tale signs you can look for in detecting that your gas fire is emitting CO which include the following:

• Instead of burning with a blue flame it burns with an orange/yellow flame

• There is a build up of soot or discolouration around the fire (often on the coal effect)

• The fire burns sporadically -- often extinguishing easily

• There's excessive condensation on windows in the room

These symptoms, even in the absence of the physical symptoms, should give you a strong indication of the presence of CO in your home.

It is also important to purchase a carbon monoxide alarm for your home -- every home should have at least one as a precautionary measure. While not always 100pc effective they will provide you with an extra layer of protection that you could not otherwise have. You can purchase the devices from your local hardware shop or online in Ireland at www.handyhardware.ie.

To confirm any suspicions, you should always contact a qualified gas service agent through reliable services such as www.onlinetradesmen.com. Such agents will not only be able to confirm the presence of CO in your home but will also be able to address it.

The good news is that you can help it by following a few simple steps. By ensuring that your gas fire/appliances are serviced at least once a year by a qualified gas service agent you can significantly reduce the occurrence of CO emissions. It is also vital to ensure that the room that 'hosts' the gas fire is adequately ventilated -- check that all vents are open, unobstructed and there are enough vents in the room -- and make sure all chimneys and flues are clear.

It is recommended that you only install room sealed appliances, appliances where the air intake vent and discharge vent are both external to the room and sealed off from its inhabitants. Get that CO detector and install one anywhere there is a fuel burning appliance.

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