CO – beware the “silent killer”…

Carbon Monoxide alarm FireangelOFTEC Inspection Services has recently investigated two cases of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

(1)  The first incident was reported by a householder, and when OFTEC’s regional inspector visited the site, he discovered a second-hand vaporising range cooker which had been installed by a non-registered installer several years previously. It had been serviced annually, also by a non-registered engineer. For some time, the householder had thought that it gave off fumes, but became increasingly concerned when her CO alarm went off. She contacted her local authority who tested and found high levels of CO in the room.

On examination, an OFTEC inspector found there was no flue liner fitted, and that the overall flue system was ineffective for this type of appliance. There was also inadequate ventilation to the room. OFTEC recommended that a new flue system and adequate permanent ventilation should be installed by a registered technician, and that, on completion, the appliance should be recommissioned and a flue interference test carried out in accordance with correct procedures.

(2)  The second case occurred late last year; OFTEC was part of a joint investigation team with the Health and Safety Executive in Northern Ireland (HSENI). A pressure jet appliance had been installed at a domestic property some two years earlier, and had been serviced by unknown engineers.  On this occasion, the CO problem was due to a low level flue, terminating in an enclosed outbuilding where fumes were accumulating without dispersing freely into the atmosphere. The HSENI is currently dealing with this incident.

“Although CO incidents with oil are rare,” says OFTEC, “Everyone should be vigilant for the signs of potential poisoning. CO is sometimes called the silent killer because it cannot be seen and is odourless. An incorrectly installed appliance or flue system could be leaking the lethal gas for years without being detected.  Encourage all your customers to fit a good quality CO alarm, such as the Fire Angel which is available from OFTEC Direct.”

If you think a CO incident has occurred, or need further advice, please contact OFTEC on 0845 65 85 080. 

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