There are many dangers associated with carbon monoxide, some of which are short term problems and some of which can be permanently damaging or even fatal.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can come about through a number of sources, and these can be everyday items and appliances used within the home or at work.
Once carbon monoxide has been breathed in, it replaces the oxygen in the blood, thus killing off cells and starving vital organs of oxygen.
One of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning is death. A large enough dose of this odourless, colourless and tasteless gas can kill within minutes.
In fact, people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning without ever knowing what hit them. They simply slip in to unconsciousness and never come around, or they may already be asleep when they breathe in the carbon monoxide and simply never wake up again.

Smaller doses of carbon monoxide poisoning can cause a range of symptoms and problems, and depending on how often the CO is breathed in and at what levels, can cause both short term and long term damage. Once of the dangers associated with the short term symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning is the non-specific nature of the symptoms, which can often resemble flu.

This means that the sufferer can often go on breathing in carbon monoxide, which can then lead to either long term or permanent damage, or death.

The long term dangers associated with carbon monoxide can be devastating and can affect the rest of your life. Carbon monoxide can result in brain damage, heart problems, major organ dysfunction, memory or cognitive problems, behavioural and personality changes and a range of other permanent problems.

The dangers of carbon monoxide can arise both in the home and the work environment, and many people are affected by these dangers simply through lack of knowledge and vigilance. There are many ways in which you can reduce the risks of carbon monoxide exposure, but these dangers often get the better of people who have no idea what the signs are, how to aid prevention, how to treat symptoms and what the causes of the carbon monoxide pollution are.

Carbon monoxide is a silent and deadly danger, and takes thousands of lives all around the world each year. The sad thing is that many carbon monoxide related deaths could have been avoided with some basic precautions and a little vigilance.

However, the fact that this gas is practically undetectable to the general public, along with the fact that the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are so non-specific can contribute to the level of danger that this gas carries.

How to prevent carbon Monoxide poisoning

The easiest way to have early warning of a carbon monoxide leak is to install a carbon monoxide detector.

Carbon monoxide detectors come in various forms but look a bit like a smoke alarm, and can be fitted to the wall or be freestanding.

Where to put a carbon monoxide detector

Which? recommends placing a carbon monoxide detector in each room that has a potential source of carbon monoxide.

In most homes, this will be where the boiler is located. The detector should be placed:
At least one metre away from boilers, cookers and fires
At least 15cm from the ceiling
. Not directly above a source of heat or steam

If you choose a free-standing detector it can also be taken with you when you go on holiday.

What other checks can you do?

Aside from having carbon monoxide detectors, there are some other checks you can do which might reveal a potential leak.

Look at the pilot light on your boiler. If everything’s fine this should burn blue, but if it’s yellow or orange then you should call a professional.

If you see any stains or soot around appliances or fires then be sure to get them checked immediately. 
Check for smoke build‐up in rooms that have working fireplaces and chimneys.

If you suspect you have a carbon monoxide leak then you should leave your home immediately before calling a professional in for help.

On 21st October 2009, the EU adopted a framework for setting the efficiency requirements of energy-related products called the ErP Directive. Energy-related products are those that either use energy or have an indirect impact on energy consumption – such as tyres, bulbs or shower heads. Improving the efficiency of those across the EU will reduce the impact on the environment and lead to savings for consumers and businesses.

The ErP Directive aims to phase out poorly performing products across a range of product groups to reduce carbon emissions across Europe, with the ultimate goal of achieving the EU’s 20-20-20 targets:
A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels)
A 20% improvement in overall energy efficiency within the EU
An increase of 20% in the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources

From September 2015, the performance requirements set out in the ErP Directive will apply to all residential and commercial heating products throughout Europe, including electrical power products, boilers and water heaters as well as renewable technologies such as solar thermal products and heat pumps.

ErP is made up of two separate directives: EcoDesign and Energy Labelling. EcoDesign will only affect the manufacturers of energy-related products, whilst Energy Labelling will affect both installers and manufacturers.

EcoDesign: The EcoDesign Directive ensures that energy-related products meet performance and emissions standards at the point of manufacture. Any product that does not meet these requirements will not get a CE mark, which all products must have to be sold legally in the EU.

Energy Labelling: From 26th September 2015, boilers and heating products will be given an efficiency rating from G to A+++ which will need to be clearly displayed on the product. Installers will also be required to complete a new document called a ‘fiche’.

What does the new legislation mean for you?

From 6th April 2018 the legislation around heating manufacture and installation in the UK is changing, and there are some big changes.
These changes have been named Boiler Plus and are being introduced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They address the energy efficiency of heating systems and have raised the bar for both manufacturers and installers.

  • Gas boiler performance: space heating efficiency of the new boiler no less than ERP 92%
  • Time and temperature control required for all gas and oil boiler installations
  • Combi boiler installations must also include one of the following: Weather compensation, Load compensation, Flue Gas Heat Recovery, Smart controls.

The most notable change applies to the minimum performance standard for domestic gas boilers in England. The minimum efficiency level of all boilers manufactured and installed will be set at 92% ERP. The main motivation behind the change is to phase out inefficient boilers and reduce carbon emissions in line with targets set by the EU. It forms just part of a wider plan known as the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy which aims to combat climate change and provide UK homes with greater comfort and lower energy bills.

What will happen to homeowners and installers who do not comply?

Installers who fail to install boilers in line with these new Building Regulations will be breaking the law and could be prosecuted by Building Control. The Gas Safe Register can also refer safety concerns to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). Invoicing a customer for work which they claim to be legal but is not is also to be considered fraudulent under Trading Standards.

Homeowners who knowingly allow non-compliant work to be carried out could also face prosecution and fines of up to £5,000.

What is FGHR?

A Flue Gas Heat Recovery (FGHR) is a device designed to improve energy efficiency of the boiler by recycling the heat from the flue gases which would usually be lost into the atmosphere. Instead this heat is used it to preheat domestic hot water.

What is weather compensation?

Weather compensation devices enable the boiler to read the outside temperature via a sensor so that the boiler can adjust the temperature of your heating accordingly.

What is load compensation?

Load compensation measures the response of the heating system and adjusts the flow temperature based on what is needed to reduce fuel consumption.

Why are these changes being introduced?

This legislation is designed to help the UK meet the targets by 2020. More than £2.5 billion of Government funding was designated towards lowering carbon emissions for the period 2015 – 2021.

Greg Clark, Business and Energy Secretary, said:
“This Government has put clean growth at the heart of its Industrial Strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change.
“For the first time in a generation, the British government is leading the way on taking decisions on new nuclear, rolling out smart meters and investing in low carbon innovation. The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.”

Some of the measures taken include:

  • Investment of around £3.6 billion to upgrade around a million homes through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) including extended support for home energy efficiency improvements from 2022 to 2028
  • Upgrading all fuel poor homes to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2030 with as many homes as possible to be Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2035
  • Improve the energy performance standards of privately rented homes to Energy Performance Band C by 2030.

The iron and steel components in central heating systems are vulnerable to corrosion and rusting. This produces a sludge which can block different parts of the system, principally the boiler heat exchanger, pump or the radiators leading to costly repairs.
Old, cast iron pipes were usually a few centimetres in diameter but more modern pipework tends to be narrower, making blockages even more likely.

A blocked boiler will often overheat, causing the system to shut down. To remove a blockage, a boiler engineer may have to power flush your central heating system or replace the heat exchanger – both costly jobs.
A magnetic filter can help avoid these blockages and keep the system running freely by trapping any sludge before it reaches the boiler. A powerful magnet collects the debris, preventing it from damaging the boiler.
Some of these devices also include a filter which gathers non-magnetic deposits from corrosion of copper, zinc or aluminium central heating system components.

Boiler Smart fit Magnetic heating system filters as standard with every new boiler to protect your new investment. If the new boiler is to be fitted to an existing heating system the radiators and pipe work will need to be thoroughly flushed (Boiler Smart recommend a power flush) to remove any corrosion or sludge deposits that could damage the new equipment.