Homeowner » Tips and Advice » Keeping yourself safe from carbon monoxide

Keeping yourself safe from carbon monoxide

5 October 2018
carbon monoxide carbon monoxide safety

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, produced by malfunctioning or wrongly installed fuel burning appliances. This includes woodburners and gas heaters.
There are some things you should know to keep you and your family safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.


1. Don’t risk it!

Get an authorised gasfitter to install and regularly service your gas appliances—about every one or two years. Some plumbers specialise in home heating and install woodburners—again, make sure you use an authorised plumber.

2. Never use outdoor gas appliances inside

That means appliances like patio heaters, camping cookers and BBQs. They don’t have the same safety systems as indoor gas heating appliances, which shut off the gas supply when oxygen levels are low and carbon monoxide levels high.

3. Only use appliances for their intended use

Cookers, grillers and barbecues are for cooking food—don’t use them for heating! And always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

4. Turn them off

Always make sure you fully turn off the control knob of a gas appliance when not in use.

5. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation

If you have an LPG cabinet heater (and we don’t recommend them), make sure it’s always in a well-ventilated area when in use. Keep a window ajar—and never use the heater in small spaces like bathrooms, cabins or caravans, or anywhere where people sleep. There are more tips on Energy Safety’s website.

Modern, airtight homes that have ducted ventilation systems, heat transfer or extractor fans can have a detrimental effect on natural draft flued woodburners and gas fires.

These systems can create negative air pressure in the room where the fuel-burning appliance is operating, causing products of combustion to be pulled down the flue and into the room, and creating a potential carbon monoxide hazard. Your local authorised plumber or gasfitter will have ways to test for and correct this issue.

6. Know what to look out for

Signs that an appliance is not working correctly, or the flue is blocked, include:
  • A yellow, rather than blue, flame (although some flame-effect gas heaters are designed to burn with a yellow tipped flame)
  • Abnormal gas flame patterns
  • Sooty deposits in or around the appliance
  • An unpleasant or unusual smell

7. Symptom alert

Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause tiredness, headaches, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. High levels can lead to collapse and unconsciousness and can even be fatal.
Don’t risk it—get a Master Plumber or Gasfitter to get the work done.

There’s lots more good information on the topic on the WorkSafe website HERE.

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