Gas and solid fuel appliances that have been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained can produce carbon monoxide, a colourless, odourless gas that can cause brain damage, or even death. If flues, chimneys or vents are blocked the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning is much greater.
Other than physical symptoms (see the next section), things to look out for include pilot lights that burn orange instead of blue, sooty stains on or near appliances, excessive condensation in the room, or coal or wood fires that burn slowly or go out.
Even if you don’t spot any of these signs, there are steps you should take to make sure your appliances are working as they should be:
- Have your gas appliances serviced annually by a gas engineer who is registered with the Gas Safe Register. If you live in rented accommodation, your landlord has a legal duty to make sure this happens. If they don’t or won’t do it, you can use this form to report them to the HSE
- Use professionals to service any other appliances such as oil or coal burning stoves every year
- Fit audible carbon monoxide alarms in your home (Which? has a free guide explaining how to install a carbon monoxide alarm properly)
- Ensure alarms are maintained and replaced according to packaging instructions.