Gas Heater Safety
Gas heaters present a heath risk in the home if not adequately maintained. All gas heaters including central heating units, wall furnaces have the potential to leak carbon monoxide (CO) into the home.
Health Issues Linked to Faulty Gas Heaters
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas which can cause serious health problems.
While symptoms from carbon monoxide are non-specific, they may appear as a ‘flu-like’ illness.
Common symptoms include-
- Shortness of breath
The Victorian Department of Heath has developed a guide ‘Could it be carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning‘ for more information. If you believe your symptoms may be related to CO poisoning from a gas appliance in the home there are 3 steps you should take.
- Open windows/doors to ventilate the room.
- Turn off the appliance and do not use until it has been serviced by a licenced gasfitter.
- See your GP to discuss your symptoms and any links to CO exposure.
Maintaining Gas Heater Safety
All gas heaters should to be serviced at least every two years by a licenced gasfitter with an endorsement to service Type A gas appliances. In fact, new Residential Tenancies Regulations came in to force in March 2021 for rented properties. Gas safety checks are to be conducted every 2 years under these regulations. You can find more information on gas safety checks on this Gasfitter Toolkit from Energy Safe Victoria.
When air is removed from a space more quickly than it is replaced, it creates a negative pressure environment. Negative pressure environments cause CO to be drawn into the home rather than being vented outside. It is imperative that there is adequate ventilation in the home to ensure there a negative pressure environment cannot be created by the use of extraction fans.
Installation of carbon monoxide monitors
Because you cannot see or smell carbon monoxide, installing a carbon monoxide monitor is can be a useful method of early detection. When installing a monitor, ensure it complies with either the US (UL2034) or European (EN50291) Standards. While beneficial, installing one of these monitors is no substitute for safe installation and regular maintenance of your gas appliances.
Energy Safe Victoria maintains a safety alerts list for open flued gas heaters that have been identified as posing a serious risk to health. Do not use any heater on this list until it has been tested and serviced by a qualified gasfitter.