Carbon Monoxide: Everything You Need to Know as a Homeowner

Carbon monoxide is often known as a silent killer because it is a gas that is odourless, colourless and leaves no taste when it is in the air. This often means that people don’t realise they are being poisoned by it until it’s too late. That’s why a carbon monoxide alarm is a crucial piece of safety equipment for any home.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide or CO is a poisonous gas that is produced by the incomplete burning of gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Examples of how it can be generated in the home include a gas appliance that has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired or poorly maintained. It can also happen if flues, vents or chimneys are blocked. Sometimes, burning oil and solid fuels such as coal or wood can also generate carbon monoxide.

If you are diligent here are signs of possible carbon monoxide to look out for. Lazy yellow or orange colour flames on a gas hob, rather than a normal crisp blue flame is a tell-tale sign. Dark staining on or around gas appliances might also indicate a problem alongside a pilot light that blows out frequently.

Symptoms Of CO Poisoning

One of the problems with CO poisoning is that it is easy to mistake the symptoms for other conditions. When you breathe in the gas, it replaces oxygen in your bloodstream and this causes cells to die. Even small amounts can lead to poisoning and longer-term effects include paralysis, brain damage and death.

There are six main symptoms to watch out for with CO poisoning:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Breathlessness
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

Some of these symptoms can easily stem from other conditions so one tip is to monitor whether the symptoms continue when you are away from the house. Look to see if others are experiencing the same symptoms while in the house and even watch for signs of problems with pets as animals are affected by CO poisoning too.

Dealing With Carbon Monoxide

If you think there is any chance that there could be carbon monoxide gas in your home, you should immediately allow fresh air to flow through it by opening all doors and windows. Then turn off any gas appliances and leave the house. You should call a Gas Safe engineer to inspect the possible sources of CO in the house and call a gas emergency helpline if you are uncertain. You can also check with your doctor who can take a blood or breath test to check for signs of carbon monoxide.

Getting A Carbon Monoxide Alarm

One of the best ways to protect you and your family against carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a CO alarm in your home. Combined with regular maintenance and checks of appliances, this can dramatically reduce your risk of poisoning. They work much the same as a smoke alarm and can be purchased in DIY stores and supermarkets. Look for British Standard EN 50291 to ensure you are getting a good quality piece of equipment. An alarm should be placed in every room where there is a gas appliance.

A carbon monoxide alarm is a must have when fitting a solid fuel stove. We stock Honeywell’s XC70-EN Carbon Monoxide alarms in our branches at our Plumbmaster Counters.

Fire Your Imagination – A Customer’s Guide to Buying a Stove

Haldane Fisher Stoves

Fire your imagination with Stoves available from Haldane Fisher

Wood burning stoves have long been a popular choice with consumers looking for efficient and natural ways to create heat in the home. The multi-fuel stove however is a relatively new addition to the market and it is quickly becoming popular for a variety of reasons. So might it be the perfect solution for your home?

What Are Multi-Fuel Stoves?

As their name suggests, multi-fuel stoves are able to burn different materials and are also referred to as mineral-fuel stoves. Typically, they can burn wood and coal as well as smokeless fuels although some do have different facilities and react differently depending on the fuel in use.

Because coal needs air to reach it to work properly, most multi-fuel stoves have what is called a riddling plate. This lets in air under the coals to generate the heat and also make it easy to remove ash that builds up once the coal has burnt. Wood works a little differently and burns best when sitting on ash, known as a firebox while the air circulates above.

Which Type Of Fuel Should You Choose?

As with most things, the fuel you choose to use in your stove will often depend on its cost. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of some of your fuel options.

Wood – This is a very popular fuel given that it is a renewable and natural source which makes it cheaper than most other fuels. Using wood will also create less ash which means that you wont have to clean out your stove as often. On a negative note, seasoned wood can be hard to get your hands on in the winter, therefore you will need to stock up on it in the warmer months.

Smokeless Coal – A smokeless coal such as anthracite will burn for longer and create more heat than wood. There are also still smokeless coal delivery services available making it less necessary to store it over the winter. As with wood there are some downsides to using coal. One of the obvious negatives is that it is quite a messy fuel to store and use. There is also more maintenance required as the stove will need to be cleaned out after each use and your chimney will also need cleaning more often than if you used wood.

Choosing A Multi-Fuel Stove

One of the issues some people have with multi-fuel stoves is that they may not be laid out correctly to use both coal and wood and tend to be limited to one or the other. Therefore, when choosing a multi-fuel stove look for ones that allow you to control where the air circulates depending on what fuel is being used.

You might also want to consider what type of fuel you will burn the most and go for a model that is primarily optimised for this. So if you plan to burn wood 75% of the time and use coal and other fuels only occasionally, then look for a model that is laid out for wood and can be easily adapted for other fuels. Also, make sure that if you are in a smoke controlled area that the stove can burn smokeless fuels – these are normally DEFRA approved.

Heat Output And Physical Size

The other two main considerations when choosing a multi-fuel stove is the physical size and the heat output. The size is a very variable area so there is almost always one to fit any space in your home. However, you should have enough space to leave a gap between the stove and other items, at least 150mm is recommended to the sides and 50mm at the back.

Heat output is how much heat the stove will create and this should be appropriate for your home. Too small and it won’t heat the room but too big an output and your room will be uncomfortably hot. Heat output is measured in kilowatts and the amount of heat you need can be worked out roughly with a simple measurement. Multiple room length by width x height in metres and divide the figure by 14 – this tells you the output you need from your stove to adequately heat your room.

We sell multi fuel stoves from renowned brands such as AGA, Henley and Firewarm that allow the customer to burn a range of fuels such as wood and coal. This allows the customer to decide whether they want to use the stove purely as a wood burning stove or use a range of fuels.