Gas Heating – Health and Safety Issues

Gas Heating - Health and Safety Issues

Heating is essential, especially during winter; to keep the warmth and comfort of your home instilled. But is your gas heater safe enough to be used this year?

As necessary as a heater is, there are some health hazards associated with it that has the potential to cause harm or massive destruction. This article will get you through the health hazards of a gas heater and how to stay safe.

Associated Health Hazards

The heater burns fuel to produce heat and a by-product: carbon monoxide. A properly functioning heater will vent these by-products through the flue or chimney out of the house. A faulty gas heater will release these gases directly into the home, leading to gas poisoning.

Since carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas, you can’t identify if the air is gaseous, and it only contributes to a worsened health condition. How much of your room is polluted depends on the following factors;

  • Proper installation of the heater
  • How often is it serviced
  • Correct usage of the heater
  • How old is the heater

Other factors revolve around the room;

  • The size of the room
  • If there’s a vent in the room
  • Are there other unflued gas appliances in the room

These factors will determine how much and how fast the room fills with poisonous gas. Nonetheless, you should know the symptoms and signs so that; you can identify a gas before it’s too late.

Signs and Symptoms

Carbon monoxide cannot be visibly detected. Although, long-term exposure to CO can lead to seizures, coma, and death. There are some initial signs and symptoms which are often mistaken to be flu or fever.

These signs indicating a gas leak may include some or most of the following;

  • Dizziness
  • Nauseous
  • Headache
  • Breathing Problems
  • Chest Pain and
  • Tiredness

If you notice your health problems worsening in a particular room, inspect if there’s a gas leak, and act immediately. Prevention is much better, but it’s still not too late for safety measures and making sure it never happens again.

There are some efforts that you can make to diagnose if these symptoms are related to a gas heater or not;

  • Health problems arise when in that particular room
  • Symptoms occur in other family members and pets
  • Symptoms get better when outside the house
  • The gas heater isn’t working efficiently
  • There’s a recent new vent installation or blockage
  • The gas heater was last serviced two years ago or more

Take immediate action if you suspect your gas heater is making people sick. Call the doctor or a medical professional, turn the gas heater off immediately, open all the doors and windows and leave the house. Don’t use your gas heater till the issue is fixed by a registered gas fitter.

Gas Heater Serviced Regularly

Ideally, a gas heater requires service by a registered gas safety engineer every two years. They will inspect all the gas appliances in your space, including; your gas pipelines, stove, heater, and boiler. Upon complete inspection, you will get a Gas Safety Certificate or CP12.

CP12 certificates ensure that all the gas appliances at your home; are correctly installed, fixed, and safe to use. This inspection is carried out by a registered gas-safe engineer only, and we suggest you check their ID card to know if they are registered.

If you’re a tenant, the rental provider should give you a gas safety cp12 certificate and the latest date of the safety check. Before you book a safety check yourself, make sure that the gas fitter is licensed and has the right equipment and proper training. A faulty working heater can cause CO spoilage which can cause damage to life and the house.

All kinds of gas heaters require service every two years, including inspection of; the chimneys and vents. You can get your heater serviced if;

  • The flame colour turned yellow
  • The pilot light gets off suddenly
  • The heater makes a popping sound when igniting the pilot light
  • There are dark stains on the heater
  • There are visible stains of heat damage on the heater or the walls
  • The walls get too hot when the heater is on
  • The heater is not working efficiently
  • The heater hasn’t got serviced for more than two years.

These reasons are enough to convince you to get your heater serviced. Better if you stop using the heater temporarily until it’s safe to use.

Alternatives and Alarms

If you prefer gas heaters, then use flued gas heaters. Flued gas heaters will expel the by-products gases out of the room via a vent or a flue. Blocked ventilation or exhaust fans can introduce CO back into the room in some conditions.

An alternative to gas heaters is electric heaters or a reverse cycle air conditioner. They are safe to use and do not produce any air pollutants.

An alarm system is effective and helps you indicate a gas leak, so you can evacuate the house and take all the necessary steps without causing any damage. A CO alarm is considered a backup or a precaution, not a substitute for the gas safety inspection.

When installing an alarm, verify that they are US or EU-standardized. The location of each CO alarm should be in or near every room having gas appliances. Assure that your audible alarm is easy to hear from all the sleeping positions around the house.

Bottom Line

Use a gas heater accordingly to the instructions and manual provided. Open-flued gas heaters require plenty of ventilation. Exhaust fans can lead the CO gas back into the room. Prevent children from touching or being near a gas heater and keep all the flammable materials at least a meter away from the gas heater.

Never leave a gas heater on 24/7 or use an industrial gas heater for domestic use. Similarly, patio gas heaters should remain outside and not in the house.

Nonetheless, if your gas heater is old, it may require a replacement rather than a service. Either you cannot find the correct spare parts for an old gas heater or repairing them can be equally damaging to health.

Regular inspection and maintenance of your heater can ensure safe functioning. If you get a service from a professional can detect the smallest of issues which are easier to repair and less costly. This easy practice can make your appliance safe to use; and reduces the chances of your system failing.

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