Carbon Monoxide testing – Protecting your home from an invisible killer
There’s nothing more frightening than a potentially fatal threat that can’t be detected. You can’t smell, see, hear or feel carbon monoxide. The first thing you’ll know about this dangerous gas is the sickness it causes. CO leaks can lead to serious illness, or as we saw in the case of Sonia Sofianopoulos in 2018, tragic fatalities. Every gas heater needs carbon monoxide testing, and every resident needs to be aware of the dangers of CO poisoning.
Since 2018, the Victorian Government has responded to the tragic death of Ms Sofianopoulos with an inquest and a long list of recommendations to significantly improve the safety of residents and gasfitters. As usual, Twin Electrics & Plumbing is leading the campaign to increase the awareness of risks and prevention. Among the many safety guides we’ve published, few are more topical or important than this one.
The first question you have to ask yourself is simple: is your gas heater due for carbon monoxide testing? If you’re not sure, the answer is usually yes. We install, service and repair gas heaters every day, and it often shocks us to see how long it’s been since an appliance has been tested. In some cases, the heater shouldn’t even be used, either due to its age or inadequate ventilation.
What are the CO warning signs?
As we’ve explained, while your heater is being used, carbon monoxide could be spilling into your home. You won’t sense its presence in any way. The first sign will be symptoms, so let’s look at a few signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Unfortunately, many of the symptoms are similar to those experienced by anyone with a cold or flu. Dizziness, nausea and headaches may be common to both, but there are a couple of logical ways to differentiate. If a number of people or pets get sick at the same time, or if you only feel ill at home, you may have a CO leak.
Obviously, if you feel symptoms that are consistent with CO poisoning, you need to urgently seek both medical attention and a CO test by a qualified gasfitter.
Testing is surviving
The easiest way to determine whether your gas heater needs a carbon monoxide test is to check the last date it was tested. All gas heaters need to be checked every two years. Other environmental issues that could change the way a heater operates or emits gas include changes to your home’s ventilation or the installation of kitchen rangehoods or exhaust fans.
The other major issue with heaters is the required airflow. Along with our entire industry, we’re worried many gas heaters may have been installed incorrectly by technicians that didn’t have the required qualifications. We strongly urge residents to check the model of their appliance to determine if it’s operating in the right environment. If there are any doubts, call us for advice.
Finding a Gasfitter who’s fit to do the job
It’s imperative that you find the right Gasfitter for the job. As always, Australia has the highest standards on offer. That adds a level of complexity because there are Type A and Type B Gasfitters. Don’t worry, any time you call Twin Electrics & Plumbing for a Gasfitter, all you need to do is tell us your heater type and model. We’ll get the right technician to your location.
Even then, we encourage you to check credentials. It’s not just a card we carry around. Licenced gas fitters are required to do exams to prove competency, attend workshops to stay up to date, use regularly calibrated CO testing equipment and carry the necessary insurance.
You can check this link to see how the test is carried out.
Top tips for gas heater safety
You should avoid leaving your gas heater on for extended periods. We all love to stay toasty during winter but remember the entire concept of ventilation for a gas heater relies on its ability to draw gas out of the room. The longer it’s on, the more chance of residual gas building up.
Don’t operate kitchen rangehoods or exhaust fans while your heater is on. The latest models of rangehoods and fans are more powerful than their predecessors, and can interfere with the heater’s ability to draw fumes out of the room.
Don’t leave anything to chance – check your heater now
Winter is here, and it’s likely your gas heater has started working overtime. If you’re not sure if the heater has been tested, make sure you err on the side caution. If there’s one thing you don’t want to leave to chance, it’s the threat of a gas leak. When it comes to gas heaters, carbon monoxide testing is a small cost for peace of mind.
Twin Electrics & Plumbing’s Gasfitters are armed with the right credentials, equipment and knowledge to make sure the job is done thoroughly and quickly. If you call now, we should be able to get your heater tested today.
Make sure to check our site for more guides on safety, going green and buying smart.
Stay safe and warm this winter.
You can find more relevant information in our Safety Tips Guides section.