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These days we rely more than ever on the central heating boiler to keep the home warm and to provide hot water.
Your boiler may be running all day, day in, day out, but how do know if it is working properly.
If the flame-producing fuel doesn't burn correctly, then you could be at risk from carbon monoxide gas. Read our advice about the tell-tale signs, and how to make your home safe.
You can't. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that you can't see, taste or smell. If the central heating boiler, cooker, heater or fireplace in your home does not get enough ventilation then the fuel may not burn properly, and it could release poisonous carbon monoxide (CO).
Fitting a CO alarm or detector in your home will alert you to the danger of the gas. Also, beware of lazy yellow flames on your cooker hob or appliance (flames should be blue), the pilot light on your boiler frequently goes out, or there is increased condensation inside the windows.
In the United Kingdom, more than 50 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning every year, and 200 people are left seriously ill.
National Health Service website
Exposure to the gas indoors can be evident when occupants show symptoms similar to flu or food poisoning – unusual tiredness, feeling or being sick, headache, difficulty breathing, even loss of consciousness.
Older people, pregnant mothers and young children, and those with chronic heart disease and respiratory problems, are particularly vulnerable. However, unlike the flu you will not have a fever or high temperature. Frequent headaches during the winter – when the central heating is often on – are another sign. The symptoms will disappear when you go away from the building for some time, such as on holiday.
If you believe these flu-like symptoms are linked to CO in your home, stop using all your gas or solid-fuel appliances (except electricity) and open the windows.
Visit your GP as soon as possible to check the symptoms, and call the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Gas Safety free helpline 0800 300 363.
Central heating appliances relate to over 66% of reportable CO incidents
Carbon Monoxide Trends, Gas Safety Trust
As a first step to protect yourself or your family, fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm or detector.
In older houses, ensure that air bricks and fireplace chimneys are kept clear. For a combustion appliance, such as a gas central heating boiler, the HSE recommends that it is regularly serviced by a competent person, such as a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Cover for central heating emergencies for just £16.99 a month – including a boiler service*
Cover for your boiler and central heating
AA Home Insurance
* This price is available if you include an optional £50 policy excess, payable each time you claim.
Central Heating Response Plus is a Home Membership option.
AA Home Membership is underwritten by Acromas Insurance Company Limited (AICL) 57-63 Line Wall Road, Gibraltar. Registered Number 88716 (Gibraltar). UK branch address: Enbrook Park Sandgate, Folkestone CT20 3SE. Acromas Insurance Company is authorised by the Financial Services Commission, Gibraltar and is a member of the Association of British Insurers.
Automobile Association Insurance Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can check their register or call the FCA on 0800 111 6768.