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Gas Safety

Do I Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector for a Gas Boiler?

Do I need a carbon monoxide detector for a gas boiler?

For you and your family's safety, it is advisable to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in each room in your home that has a gas appliance or solid fuel heating.

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about carbon monoxide (CO), carbon monoxide alarms and what to do if you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.  

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas produced by the incomplete burning of natural gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), oil, wood, coal or petrol. It can occur when appliances have been incorrectly fitted, poorly maintained, badly repaired or when vents, chimneys and flues are blocked.

Carbon monoxide is colourless, tasteless and has no odour, making it very difficult to detect without a carbon monoxide detector.

What are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning? 

The most common symptoms of mild carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, nausea and feeling tired or confused - in fact, very similar symptoms to those of flu.

However, if you find your symptoms improve or go away when you are away from home, and get worse when you return, and if everyone else in the home, including pets, has the same symptoms, you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning and should see your GP immediately.

In severe cases, it can quickly cause collapse and loss of consciousness, long term damage and even death.

What to do if you suspect you have carbon monoxide poisoning? 

  • Open doors and windows to let in fresh air, turn off gas appliances and leave the house.
  • See your doctor or go to hospital immediately – tell them you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, so they can check by doing a blood or breath test. 
  • Call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999 if you think there is imminent danger.
  • Arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to check your gas appliances, flues and pipes.

What is a carbon monoxide detector?

Carbon monoxide detectors, also known as CO alarms, work in a similar way to smoke alarms. If carbon monoxide is present in your home, the detector will beep loudly to warn you of the danger. 

We recommend the use of an audible carbon monoxide detector, rather than one that just changes colour, because it will alert you straightaway and wake you if you are asleep. The alarm should be marked with British Standard EN 50291, and a British or European approval mark such as the Kitemark.

  • Ensure your carbon monoxide alarm has a battery life of five years
  • Test your alarm weekly
  • Fitting a carbon monoxide alarm is not a substitute for having your appliances regularly serviced
  • Smoke alarms do not detect carbon monoxide
  • Don't forget to take a portable audible carbon monoxide alarm on holiday with you. Protecting the family when away is often overlooked in the rush to pack the family suitcases

Where to place a carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide detectors should be fitted in every room that has a gas appliance. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure they are in the correct position.

Are carbon monoxide detectors required by law? 

Currently, carbon monoxide detectors for gas appliances are not required by law, in either privately owned, private rented or social housing.

According to The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015, landlords in England are required by law to “provide a carbon monoxide detector in any room used as living accommodation where solid fuel is used - after that, the landlord must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy”. However, the regulations also recommend that landlords provide carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms with gas appliances.

Annual Servicing is important to check for gas safety

Your gas appliances, including your boiler, oven, hob and gas fire, should be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer, in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, to ensure they are working safely and efficiently. It's rather like giving your car an annual service to make sure it is safe to drive.

An annual service is a good way to check everything is working correctly, and can help to reduce the risk of breakdowns and potential safety hazards. During the service, your Gas Safe engineer will check to make sure the gas is burning properly, that all the seals are intact and that flues or chimneys are not blocked or leaking.

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