- 13th November 2013
From October 1st 2013, Scotland's revised Technical Handbook (Domestic – Section 3.20.20) requires carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to be fitted in all dwellings or interconnected spaces – such as an internal garage – where new or replacement boilers, heaters, fires and stoves are installed.
Housebuilders are now also required to make sure CO alarms are fitted in all new homes. At least one alarm is required in every space containing a fixed combustion appliance and where a flue passes through high rise accommodation, such as a bedroom or main living room.
Proper installation and regular servicing of all gas and fossil fuel appliances should dramatically reduce the risk of fire and CO but the Gas Safe Register estimates that although there is awareness that appliances need to be safety checked annually, one in three Britons – around eight million people – don't do it. The Register's interactive gas map, launched to mark Gas Safety Week, revealed one in six of 100,000 British homes inspected had an unsafe gas appliance and one in three gas fires checked by the Register were unsafe. This should be a wake-up call to homeowners, tenants and landlords.
Many assume they're not at risk because they don't have a boiler. However, any appliance that burns fuel produces CO; a solid fuel stove or open fire produces hundreds of times that of gas or oil appliances.
Worryingly, CO can also enter a property from adjoining buildings. With no smell or taste, the gas is completely undetectable to the human senses and any symptoms can be mistaken for other ailments, such as the flu. The only way to detect it's presence is with an audible CO alarm.
The Smart Compliance detector is ideal for providing early warning of the presence of CO. Based on the most advanced electrochemical sensors available for the domestic market and certified to the European Standard BSEN50291-1: 2010, this battery operated alarm is easy to install with a fast-fix bracket, simple to set up and features a tamper-proof internal power pack that has a guaranteed five year life.
To line up with the five year sensor life, it features a self test capability that carries out a weekly test and sends the result by text to your mobile phone, or to multiple mobile phones in the event that carbon monoxide is present. It also sends a text if the unit becomes faulty or is tampered with. An immediate check can be made to identify if a CO leak has occurred.
THE THREAT OF FIRE
CO is an avoidable threat and so too are the majority of house fires. According to UK fire statistics, an average of over 30,000 houses have chimney fires each year. Around 9,500 of these cause damage to the property and great inconvenience to homeowners and their families. These fires are largely a result of the chimney not being swept regularly or of the inappropriate fuel being used for the appliance, causing a build up of tar in the chimney which can catch light.
A number of insurance companies have stopped paying out for chimney fire damage unless a valid certificate can show that the flue has been swept and properly maintained. If the fire and rescue service is called out to a chimney fire and it is proven that the chimney has not been maintained, homeowners could face a bill from the local council for the callout, which could be costly.
But not as costly as the dangerous measures taken by others. Some home occupiers are putting themselves at great risk by blocking flues, chimneys and vents to keep heat in and heating costs down during the prolonged periods of cold weather. However in doing so, any potentially fatal CO could become sealed inside their home.
By teaming up maintenance work with advice, heating engineers play a vital role in ensuring customers take the right action to stay safe, including having working smoke and CO alarms in the right locations. They can also do an important policing job in reporting illegal and negligent repair work by "cowboy" traders. Those who operate best practice will not only provide a safer home, but will also help build and maintain a reliable reputation.