The Hazards of Gas Boilers

Updated April 17, 2017

Gas boilers can be dangerous because of the possibility of faulty gas boilers giving off carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a tasteless and odourless gas that suffocates people and animals exposed to the gas by clinging to their red blood cells until their bodies are unable to take in enough oxygen to sustain breathing. You can avoid carbon monoxide poisoning in several ways if you have a gas boiler in your home.

Bad Flue or Leak

One sign that you may have a faulty gas boiler installed in your home is the colour of the flame burning from the boiler. A hot flame generally means the correct amount of gas is being consumed by the appliance. This flame will burn blue. A weak flame, which can indicate a bad flue or a leak, burns a yellow or orange colour.

Carbon Monoxide

Never use a gas boiler unless it is installed in an area with adequate ventilation. Inspect regularly around the perimeter of the boiler to ensure no objects or debris are touching the boiler to prevent the boiler flue from being blocked, which can cause carbon monoxide to leech into the air.

Install a carbon monoxide detector in the room where your gas boiler is located. This detector is similar to a smoke detector and can detect the presence of carbon monoxide. Change the battery each year to ensure the detector keeps working.

Schedule an inspection by a trained heating professional right before the start of each heating season to keep your gas boiler in a safe working condition.

Because carbon monoxide is odourless, small amounts of other chemicals are added to help alert homeowners of gas leaks. These chemicals smell like rotting cabbage or even skunk. If you detect these odours, open all windows in your home and vacate the home immediately. Call a professional to come inspect your boiler.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

An early warning sign of a carbon monoxide leak is not feeling well when you are at home, then feeling better as soon as you move to another location or into fresh air, then feeling ill again when you return home. Mild to moderate carbon monoxide poisoning is known to cause flu-like symptoms: nausea, headache, mild dizziness and lightheadedness. Moderate exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death over time. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can be fatal within a few minutes.

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About the Author

Suzanne Burns began writing in 1991 and currently writes for the "Source Weekly" and "Central Oregon Magazine." She has published three poetry collections and one short-story collection. After attending Central Oregon Community College, she left the degree program to become a freelance editor and writer. She has studied creative writing with Sarah Heekin Redfield, Primus St. John and Ken Kesey.