You will struggle to come across a house in the modern-day that does not have a boiler fitted – and we use them extremely regularly. This is why it is vital to ensure that you understand that boilers can be dangerous and you know how to tell if they are faulty and potentially dangerous. Your boiler should not be putting you at risk, and more than likely you will not have any issues with it, however, as with any technological device, things can go wrong. The difference here is that if something does go wrong – your life may be at risk. The main issue with boiler faults is that they are not always very obvious, and if you do not know the warning signs, you could lose your life to carbon monoxide poisoning.
There are around 60 deaths per year in the UK from carbon monoxide poisoning – so it is not absurd to believe that this could happen to you. Read on through this article and we will show you the signs on how to tell if your boiler is putting you at risk to help you protect yourself and your family.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
First of all, we are going to discuss the symptoms that you may feel if you have been exposed to carbon monoxide, this way you may be able to save yourself before you do any serious damage. If there is a lot of carbon monoxide in the air you can lose balance, vision, and possibly consciousness within 2 hours, so it is important to act fast if you feel the symptoms.
The most common symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning is a tension headache. The other symptoms are as follows:
- Stomach pains
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling or being sick
The NHS states that the symptoms are similar to that of flu symptoms, but if you believe that it is more likely to be from carbon monoxide, then you should probably leave the property that you are in and alert a gas engineer or somebody who can safely check the house for carbon monoxide.
Dangers to look out for in your home
Now we know what symptoms to look out for, it’s vital to understand what things to check for to see if your boiler is putting you at risk.
A strange smell near the boiler
Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, which is partly why there are big issues with people not realizing they are exposed to it. However, if it is being released into the air because your boiler is not burning, it can often give off a strange smell. This smell will likely be very faint, but it is important that if you believe you can smell something strange from the boiler, you should get somebody out to check your boiler as soon as possible.
Black stains near your boiler
Another telltale sign that your boiler may be on the brink and possibly dangerous is if you see black stains on or around your boiler. This may be black marks around the roof where the boiler is, or it could be on the actual boiler.
Essentially, this means that you have a leak in your flue, which causes all the gases that should be going outside, to leak inside. This of course is dangerous because these harmful gases are being emitted into your home. These gases can put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which as we know, can be fatal. Once again, if you come across this warning sign, get a boiler engineer to come out to you as soon as possible.
Faulty combi boiler pilot light
The combi boiler pilot light is a small flame in your boiler that stays constantly lit, it ignites the gas in your boiler. You also have a flame sensor in there, that determines whether or not the combi boiler pilot light is on or off. It may turn the light off to cut the gas flow, to avoid a build-up of gas in your house.
One of the warning signs that your pilot light may be giving you issues is if the light keeps cutting out. This can be due to the fact that the gas isn’t burning properly. However, the most concerning sign that you should look out for is the flame changing colour. The fame will normally be bright blue, or blueish-green. You should be concerned if the flame becomes yellow and looks weaker than normal. This colour change will mean that there is a lack of oxygen in the flame and likely that there is carbon monoxide present.
Large amounts of condensation in the room where the boiler is
This is a little bit different from the rest of the points, as it isn’t the carbon monoxide that directly causes this issue, so it’s a little bit subtle in comparison. A lot of condensation in the room, particularly the misting of your windows, can mean that your boiler is not being properly vented, as water is one of the byproducts of combustion.
If your boiler is not being properly vented then again, you are at risk of being exposed to carbon monoxide, as it could be released into your house. Once again if you run into one of these issues, be sure to call a gas safe engineer to your house as soon as you can to inspect and fix the appliance.
Simplest way to avoid any issues
Knowing all of these signs is extremely helpful in avoiding fatality due to a faulty boiler, but there is one simple way to help yourself. This is to install a carbon monoxide alarm. Due to the fact that carbon monoxide is odorless, an alarm will alert you when there is too much in the air. They will alarm you if they are exposed to CO between a few minutes and half an hour, depending on the appliance. They are only around £10-£20 and simply put, they could save your life. So be sure to have a carbon monoxide alarm and to constantly check that it is safe and working.