It goes without saying that safety is always a key factor when installing a new appliance – and it is especially important to remind your customers. It might be common knowledge to you, as a gas engineer, but your customers may not be aware of the potential dangers that come with boilers such as carbon monoxide poisoning.

As you know, carbon monoxide is produced as a result of the incomplete burning of natural gas; when there is not enough oxygen to produce carbon dioxide. The main factor to note is that carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas with no smell or taste making a leak hard to detect. High exposure to the gas can make people very unwell. In fact, there are approximately 25 deaths a year in England and Wales due to CO poisoning.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: nausea and vomiting; tiredness and lethargy; dizziness and light-headedness; stomach pain; shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. If your customer appears to have any of these symptoms – considering they don’t have the flu of course – it is important to get themselves checked out as well as their heating appliance.

It is vital to ensure your customers are aware of the preventative measures they can take to reduce the risk of being poisoned. These include having all combustion appliances such as boilers, gas fires and central heating systems installed by a Gas Safe registered installer; alongside having a yearly service on all appliances. It would also be good practice to check whether customers have a battery-operated CO detector fitted in their house when installing or checking their boiler.

Finally, as an installer it is important to recognise whether a boiler is old and how long since it was first installed. Very old boilers commonly known as ‘zombie boilers’, being 20 or more years old, can be another potential risk of a carbon monoxide leak. Quite often, the boilers appear to still be in fine working order when really, they are so outdated it is wise to replace them.

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