How safe is my boiler?

In this blog we are going to answer some common questions about boiler safety. Remember – if you have any immediate concerns, always call a Gas Safe plumber for further advice, and if you smell gas, turn the mains supply off and open the windows straight away!

Are new boilers safer?

There is one key reason why modern boilers are safer, and that is down to the flue. Old boilers have what is called an open flue. This is where air is drawn in from the locality of the boiler, used to combust the gas, and then the waste gas is ejected outside. These types of boiler are no longer made for a couple of reasons: with an open flue, any obstruction of the flue or the intake can lead to poor combustion of the gas in the boiler, and this partial combustion can create deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Modern boilers have a balanced flue and are room sealed. This means that air used for the combustion of the gas is drawn in from the flue and then waste gas is ejected back out through the flue. The air inside the boiler is completely separated from the air circulating in the room where the boiler is sited. This means that any toxic gases will not get into the living area. These boilers also have extra safety features, which cause the boiler to cut out when the flue is obstructed in any way.

Gas Safe register and maintenance

Whilst modern boilers mean that there are far fewer incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning, it is always rather safe than sorry. It is important to get your boiler serviced annually by a qualified gas safe plumber. They will make sure that everything is working as it should and that the boiler is burning the fuel correctly with enough air for full combustion.

Carbon monoxide alarms

As an extra safety precaution, we would recommend getting a carbon monoxide alarm. Whereas in the past you had to rely on those little discs that change colour, these days you can get an alarm that sounds in the presence of the gas, just like a smoke alarm. They are cheap, very reliable, and could really make the difference, so it makes sense to pick one up.

Are you under the influence of carbon monoxide?

If you think you may be under the influence of carbon monoxide, these are some of the more common symptoms you should be aware of:

• Dull headache.
• Weakness.
• Dizziness.
• Nausea or vomiting.
• Shortness of breath.
• Confusion.
• Blurred vision.
• Loss of consciousness.

Gas leaks

Fortunately the smell of mains gas is very distinct, unlike carbon monoxide. Whatever boiler you have, it is always possible to get a gas leak. If you smell gas, open the windows in the property and get in touch with an emergency plumber as soon as possible. You should also turn the gas off from the meter.

Is boiler pressure a safety issue?

If you notice that your boiler has low or high pressure, this is not a safety concern. It likely means that there is a fault with the boiler, but it is not going to explode on you or give off carbon monoxide. Get your engineer out to take a look, and cut the gas and electrical supply to the boiler until they arrive.

How safe are electric boilers?

Electric boilers do not run on gas, and therefore there is no danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. They work in the same way as a kettle, so the answer is that they are extremely safe! The important thing is how well they have been wired; as long as a qualified electrician has done the job and done it properly, you should not have anything to worry about.

Concerned about the safety of your boiler?

As we mentioned earlier, if you have any concerns, then it is best to get an engineer out to give your system a thorough check. Remember to only use a Gas Safe plumber for gas boilers and get them back regularly each year for a service.

If you smell gas, remember to open the windows and turn the gas supply off before calling a plumber.

Installing a new boiler

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