Prevention

Preventative Measures

  • Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm.
  • Ensure that any work carried out to gas appliances and/or flues in undertaken by a Gas Safe Registered Engineer. They should be serviced regularly for safety.
  • Always make sure there is enough fresh air in the room containing your gas appliance. If you have a chimney or flue, ensure it is not blocked up and that vents are not covered.
  • Get your chimney swept from top to bottom at least once a year by a qualified sweep.
  • If you have appliances that use other fossil fuels, make sure they are serviced and maintained by a competent person.

Managing Your Appliances

TOP TIPS

Many heating appliances are expected to “work” 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, keeping us warm and supplied with constant hot water.

However, like any other equipment, they work better and last longer when correctly installed, burn the right fuel and are properly maintained.

Further information on suitable companies can be provided by the organisations listed within each fuel type.

Keep warm and safe by taking the simple steps below.

1. THE RIGHT FUEL

In order to get the best value for money it is important to burn the right fuel in your appliance. Coal and wood should be the correct size and moisture content, oil should be the proper grade (mostly 28 Seconds) and gas should be matched to the appliance. If you are in any doubt about which fuel is suitable for your particular appliance, please contact the organisations listed within each fuel type.

2. AIR SUPPLY

All fuels require an adequate supply of air to make them burn correctly. If too little air is available, fumes that are harmful to your family may escape into the room.  Never seal up flues, chimneys, air bricks or ventilation grills, you may be putting your family at risk. Again seek advice if you are in any doubt.

3. FLUE-WAY CLEANING

Many solid fuel fired appliances have flue-ways through which the hot gases pass to the chimney. These flue-ways should be swept clean every month to remove any soot or ash. Some stoves and roomheaters have a removable/drop down plate in the top of the fire box – this should also be removed and cleaned once a month. Remember; always let the fire go out the day before cleaning.

4. CHIMNEY SWEEPING

All chimneys and flues should be inspected annually and swept, if required, by a registered technician. However, if your appliance is used continuously throughout the year or burns wood and coal more frequent sweeping is recommended. The best time to have your chimney swept is at the start of the heating season. It is also strongly recommended that the chimney be swept after any prolonged period when the appliance has not been used, e.g. holidays, etc. Remember these recommendations apply even if you burn smokeless fuels.

5. APPLIANCE SERVICING

It is VITALLY important to ensure that new installations are carried out by recognised and established engineers and serviced by competent companies or individuals.  Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for boilers, stoves, gas fires and solid fuel room heaters.  HSENI recommends a service at least once a year depending on the fuel being used.

Oil

Oil is stored as a liquid in oil tanks and delivered as two grades – 28 second and 35 second. Oil burners are designed to operate on a particular grade of fuel and it is important that the fuel delivered and used is the correct grade for your appliances.

Typical appliances burning this fuel:

Heating boilers, cooking/heating ranges, air heating units. Oil is also extensively used in industrial and commercial premises including hospitals and factories.

Servicing advice:

Should be serviced in accordance with manufacturers instructions and at least annually.  Always use a competent person to install and service oil burning equipment. An example would be an OFTEC Registered engineer. Servicing should include an analysis of flue gases with an appropriate analyser and a check for any defects to appliance and flue.

CO signs to look out for on your appliance:

Sooting around the appliance, sluggish burning, smells, chimney blow downs or soot deposits in others areas of the house such as bedrooms, may indicate a likelihood of excessive generation of carbon monoxide and leakage of flue gases into the premises. Another sign can be excess condensation in the room where the appliance is located.

Further sources of advice:

The manufacturer of the appliance is the best source of information on how to safely use their appliance. OFTEC are also an excellent source of general advice.

You can contact OFTEC by telephone, fax, post or by email
Tel 0845 65 85 080
Fax 0845 65 85 181
OFTEC
Foxwood House
Dobbs Lane
Kesgrave
Ipswich
IP5 2QQ
Email: [email protected]

Solid Fuel

Includes coal, peat, slack and smokeless fuels such as Anthracite, Phurnacite and Ovoids.

Typical appliances burning this fuel:

Open fires, solid-fuel cookers, room heaters, multi-fuel stoves/fires and gravity feed boilers. Smokeless fuels are often specifically designed for use in particular types of appliances, for example Anthracite Beans & Grains are suitable ONLY for gravity-fed appliances. It may be dangerous and it may damage the appliance if the wrong fuel is used, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your appliance and for any smokeless fuel when selecting the solid fuel to burn.

Servicing advice:

It is extremely important to follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions for an appliance, particularly with regard to regular maintenance and having the chimney cleaned. Most solid-fuel appliances require regular, simple, attention from the householder such as removing/cleaning a throat plate, emptying the firebox/ash pan, cleaning heat exchangers and opening air controls. An annual service by a competent engineer is highly recommended for a more thorough check up. The manufacturer’s instructions will tell you what you need to do and to have done. All solid-fuel appliances chimneys should be swept twice a year – more frequently if the appliance is used excessively or after a prolonged period when it has not been used. Use a registered sweep, who can advise on the condition of the chimney at the same time.

CO signs to look out for on your appliance:

Sooting around the appliance, sluggish burning, smells, blackening of glass on glass-fronted fires, chimney blow downs or smoke deposits in other areas of the house such as bedrooms, may indicate a likelihood of excessive generation of carbon monoxide and leakage of flue gases into the premises.

Further sources of advice:

The manufacturer of the appliance is the best source of information on how to safely use their appliance. The Coal Advisory Service are also an excellent source of general advice, contact them by Hotline 08457 125300, Email: [email protected] and Website: www.coaladvisoryservice.com.
The office is staffed Tuesday & Thursday from 9:30am – 4:00pm by experienced advisers.

Wood

Wood is burnt as logs & branches and in many processed forms such as sawdust, chips and pellets. It is seen as a green, renewable, energy resource.

Typical appliances burning this fuel:

Open fires, ranges, word-burners & boilers providing heat, hot water and/or central heating. It is burnt in appliances designed for use in the home and also in large-scale industrial units designed to supply heat, steam and even electrical power.

Servicing advice:

Wood is highly variable in terms of moisture content, calorific value and ash content, all of which affects the servicing needs and lifespan of wood-burning appliances.  It is extremely important to follow the manufacturers operating instructions for the appliance, particularly with regard to regular maintenance and having the flue cleaned regularly.

CO signs to look out for on your appliance:

Sooting, smells, moisture condensation and poor heating performance may indicate a likelihood of excessive generation of carbon monoxide and leakage of flue gases into the premises.

Further sources of advice:

The manufacturer of the appliance is the best source of information on how to safely use the appliance. The flues of wood-burning appliances usually require more frequent sweeping than flues of appliances burning other fuels, and your sweep should advise you of excessive condensation and tar deposition in the flue.

Gas

Gas can be either Natural Gas (NG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG: propane or butane). Natural Gas is supplied by pipeline and LPG is supplied in bottles and from bulk tanks. NG and LPG gases are NOT interchangeable, and appliances have to be designed & adjusted for the type of gas used.

Typical appliances burning this fuel:

Fires, heaters, cabinet heaters, stoves/hobs, boilers & central heating systems for use in domestic premises.  Gas is also used extensively in restaurant/takeaway kitchens, in commercial/ industrial heating systems and in some manufacturing systems. Some appliances cannot be fitted in areas where persons may be sleeping.

Servicing advice:

ALWAYS follow the manufacturers instructions. ALL gas consumers are advised to have appliances checked for safe operation at least every 12 months, but note that some appliances may have specialist requirements.

Installation, checking and maintenance MUST ONLY be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Insist on seeing the engineers Gas Safe Register card before allowing work on an appliance and check their competencies are appropriate – see the reverse of their card. NEVER block or obstruct ventilation grilles, air bricks, air inlets or flues, since this can cause an appliance to malfunction. Although using a Carbon Monoxide Alarm is an excellent precaution, it can never be a substitute for proper installation and maintenance.

CO signs to look out for on your appliance:

Gas appliances should burn with a steady blue flame (except for some fuel-effect fires which are designed to burn with a yellow flame – see the manufacturers instructions). An unsteady or yellow flame, sooting/scorching/staining around appliances & flues, pilot lights which blow out, excessive room condensation and unusual smells can all be signs of poor combustion and excessive generation of carbon monoxide.

Further sources of advice:

The manufacturer is the best source of information on how to use and maintain an appliance, however the appliance must still be installed and set up properly by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Further advice regarding gas can be obtained from

Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland. Gas Safety Unit – Tel: 02890243249. Web: [email protected]. Email: [email protected]

Gas Safe Register. Tel: 08004085500. Web: www.gassaferegister.co.uk

Carbon Monoxide Alarms – click for further information.