Five signs your gas boiler might be dangerous
Generally, when your boiler goes wrong it’s inconvenient and troublesome but not dangerous. You might find that it’s not efficient, so it doesn’t keep your home warm when you need it. Or, it might just plain not work. That’s bad enough, obviously. But there are certain signs that will tell you that you have a much more immediate and urgent problem and it’s worth knowing what those are.
They all revolve around the same issue – which is the leakage of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless and poisonous. According to the CO Gas Safety charity, around 4 million people are potentially exposed to low levels of CO poisoning. At the worst end, around 40 people die and 300 are injured every year.
So it’s well worth knowing what signs to keep a look out for. There are five main ones.
1. Black stains on or near to your boiler.
Black stains are a sign that there could be a leak from your flue. Fumes that should be safely directed outside are finding their way indoors instead. Whether it’s on the ceiling above the boiler, or elsewhere nearby, you should take action. Leaking boiler emissions can include carbon monoxide, so call your heating engineer immediately.
2. A faint unusual smell
Yes, we already said that CO is odourless, but if it’s being given off because the boiler isn’t burning efficiently, it will often give off a faint odour. If in doubt, get it checked.
3. Heavy condensation
Carbon monoxide doesn’t cause condensation, but one sign that the boiler isn’t venting properly could be that windows in the room where the boiler is located may mist up.
4. Pilot light often goes out and / or burns with a yellow flame
The pilot light is the small gas flame that stays lit all the time. It should be burning blue. If it burns instead with a weak yellow flame, or a bluish green flame with a yellow tip, that is a sign that there’s not enough oxygen. That may well be an indicator of carbon monoxide.
5. You, or your family, have a frequent feeling of headaches and / or nausea when the boiler is running
Those can be symptoms of low level carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s described as similar to a virus but with no change in body temperature.
It’s worth stating again, such problems as described above are very rare, and you shouldn’t be generally fearful of your boiler. But now you know the signs to look out for so in the unusual situation of there being a serious threat to your family, you know to take action to keep everyone safe.