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Gas Heater Safety

Do you want to know whether or not your gas heater is safe? A trained and qualified gas fitter must professionally install and service your gas heater. A faulty heater might cause a house fire or emit deadly gases such as carbon monoxide into your home. Gas heater safety is a must, and so you are required to check every gas appliance in your household regularly.

Doing so is also a way of guaranteeing electrical safety in your residence. To keep your family safe, you should have your gas heater serviced at least every two years by a trained gas fitter. Read on to learn more about gas heater safety and gas safety checks.

Safety Checks For Your Gas Heater

Here are some of the checks involved in a gas heater inspection:

• Check that your heater is working properly.

• A thorough cleaning of the heater's burners, fans, and filters is required.

• Examining the heater’s flue.

• Checking the pressure of the burner.

• Examining the heat transfer.

• Frequent carbon monoxide tests.

Benefits Of Regular Gas Heater Safety Checks

Having a regular safety check for your gas heater has a number of benefits, including:

• It saves you money on gas bills. If there is a leak, your gas bill will definitely increase.

• Allows your gas heater to run at maximum efficiency.

• It contributes to the longevity of your gas heater.

When Should Your Gas Heater Get Checked?

Ensure that you have your gas appliances checked regularly. You should have this done every two years at the absolute least. It's best to do it at the end of the summer to avoid the autumn/winter rush. If you have an older gas heater, you should have a carbon monoxide test and maintenance done once a year as a precaution.

Always hire a licensed gas fitter to complete the safety check. Having anyone else do it is breaking the law (and putting themselves in danger), and you risk losing your home insurance.

If you rent your house, the landlord must have a licensed or registered gas fitter complete a gas safety check of all the gas installations and fittings every two years. However, if you own your house, then the responsibility to get a gas safety check falls on you. You should get a gas safety check if:

• The flame is yellow or sooty (unless it is a decorative gas log fire).

• There are indicators of heat damage, such as discolouration of the walls or heater panels.

• When the pilot light goes out unexpectedly, pops or bangs upon lighting.

• While the heater is on, its walls become too hot to touch.

• You notice soot stains around the heater.

• You notice any signs of difficulty in its operating mechanisms.

Health Issues Related To Faulty Gas Heaters

A defective gas heater might be dangerous to your health and that of your household’s members as it could produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide has no colour or odour, and high levels in the air are harmful and can cause people to pass out or possibly die.

If you notice health problems that seem to get worse or only happen when your gas heater is on, it could be due to a carbon monoxide leak. People who are more vulnerable to air contaminants, such as carbon monoxide, include:

• Children

• Pregnant women and their unborn babies

• Older people

Carbon monoxide poisoning can make you sick for a short time, have long-term health consequences, or even kill you and your family swiftly. You might not even realise that you have been exposed to dangerous quantities of carbon monoxide until the symptoms become severe.

Carbon monoxide seeping from your gas heater and into your home could be the source of any of the following symptoms:

• Dizziness

• Weakness

• Fatigue

• Headaches

• Rapid or erratic heartbeat

• Vomiting

If you think carbon monoxide is poisoning you, open the windows and doors, turn off your gas heater, and step outdoors to get some fresh air. Consult with your doctor if you experience severe symptoms and have your gas heater serviced before using it again.

Moreover, you should consider safe alternatives to keeping warm before your gas heater gets checked, or you can replace it. This is because chilly temperatures can also create health problems. You do not want to deal with CO poisoning issues on top of chilly weather health issues.

If you suspect your gas heater is causing illness, consider doing the following:

• In an emergency, call Health Direct, see your doctor, or dial an emergency contact.

• Immediately after you detect CO poisoning, turn off the gas heater and open the windows and doors to let in the fresh air.

• Get out of the house ASAP and into the fresh air.

• Do not use your heater until a licensed gas fitter has inspected and serviced it.

Determine Your Home's Ventilation Needs

For the safe use of open-flued and flueless gas heaters, adequate ventilation is essential. Request that your gas fitter verifies that the room in which your gas heater is sufficiently ventilated. Two permanent ventilation apertures are required by law if your room has a gas bayonet that allows the connection of a flue-less gas heater.

Build one vent at a low level and install another vent at a high level. This facilitates airflow to the outside of the building. Examining your home’s ventilation is essential because:

• Open-flued heaters use gas and pull combustion air from within the room. The heater can leak carbon monoxide and other toxic gases into the house. It happens if there is less ventilation and much more reason. If you want to know if your heater is open-flued, contact the manufacturer or ask a certified gas fitter the next time you get it serviced.

• If not serviced or maintained, flue-less heaters can be exceedingly dangerous. They consume air and emit combustion products into the room as well as the air you breathe. Fixed ventilation is essential to keep combustion products at safe levels.

What To Do If You Detect Gas Leakage

You can't determine if your heater is leaking carbon monoxide into your home because you can't see or smell it. Therefore, if you do not have a CO detector installed in your house, the only thing to go by is the symptoms you experience. Headaches, nausea, and exhaustion are frequently the first symptoms.

However, this is neither a recommended nor reliable method as it could be too late by the time you realise you are experiencing CO poisoning in your home. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, consider purchasing a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm that is audible.

CO alarms are a valuable backup precaution. However, this does not imply that you should use them in place of competent gas heating equipment installation and maintenance. When choosing a location for the CO alarm, make sure you choose one from which you can hear it from all sleeping regions.

If you're looking for CO alarms, look for ones that provide both audible and visible alerts.

If, on the other hand, you suspect your gas heater is leaking natural gas, here are ways to handle the situation safely:

• Do not light flames or make sparks when you smell gas, including smoking a cigarette.

• Call the national gas emergency service to deal with the leak.

• Open all of the doors and windows before leaving the area.

• Turn the gas bottle valve clockwise to turn off the gas.

• Turn your heater back on only after a certified gas technician has examined it.

• Wait until the gas has dissipated before returning to your home.

• To get rid of the gas, do not use an electric fan.

• Keep in mind that LPG is heavier than air and might collect in low places.

• Ensure that you warn others to stay away from the area.

• Avoid trying to locate where the leak is coming from. Leave that to the a professional plumbing company.

Because natural gas has no odour, energy companies add the disgusting smell of rotten eggs (mercaptan) to make it easier for homeowners to detect it.

Replace Old Gas Heaters For Safety Purposes

Gas heaters do not last indefinitely. In some cases, your gas heaters cannot be repaired due to safety concerns. Moreover, sometimes spare parts for older heaters aren't always available. Your service guy might not be able or willing to fix your gas heater if it is old (about 15 to 20 years). To confirm whether your gas heater can be repaired, consult your licensed gas fitter for advice.

At the next opportunity, consider replacing open-flued gas heaters with room-sealed gas heaters or split systems. You can do the same if your gas heater is irreparable.

If you have an old unflued gas heater, it might not meet recent emission regulations. Unflued gas heaters pull air from the room and recirculate combustion products back into the same space. As a result, they require continuous external ventilation to allow fresh air to feed the burner and exhaust combustion products.

Replace any unflued heaters that are older than ten years or that you believe are affecting your health. This prohibition also applies to unflued heaters imported from interstate and abroad, both new and used.

How Can You Safely Use Your Gas Heater?

• Make sure you know how to use your gas heater correctly. Always follow the appliance's operating instructions.

• When using a heater, avoid using kitchen range hoods or exhaust fans at the same time. It can result in carbon monoxide formation, which is a deadly gas.

• As a precautionary measure, install a carbon monoxide detector.

• Consider replacing your heater if it is too old.

• Always keep portable outdoor gas appliances out of your house. You should never use an outside appliance indoors (this includes barbeques and patio heaters).

• Maintain the terms of your manufacturer's warranty. If a licensed tradesperson installs your appliance, the conditions of your manufacturer's guarantee remain intact.

• Is the appliance due for servicing? Check the service tag, then make a phone call to a licensed gas fitter.

• Ensure the room is appropriately ventilated and that no permanent ventilation apertures are blocked.

• Examine the heater's outside casing. Is it discoloured in any way? Discolouration indicates a problem with the flue or appliance, and it is time to have it checked by a professional gas fitter.

• When you go to bed, never leave your gas heater operating.

• In bathrooms, bedrooms, or trailers, never use unflued gas heaters. In such small rooms and circumstances, toxic gases can cause serious health concerns.

• Don't use or store solvents, aerosols, or pressure pack cans anywhere near a gas heater, as the pilot light might still be on even if the heater is off. This could result in a fire.

• Never throw your trash into a gas fire. Substances such as tissues, cotton buds, or other items can interfere with combustion and result in toxic pollutants.

Locating A Certified Gas Fitter

There are different categories of gas fitters, depending on the work they are qualified to conduct. When looking for a gas fitter, make sure to look at their credentials and areas of competence. Inquire with them about their licensing for the specific service you seek. Moreover, request to check their identification and the registered classes indicated on the back of the card when they arrive at the facility.

You shouldn't just hire any gas fitter you come across before checking their licence and qualifications. Gas fitters are categorised based on the two types of gas appliances, namely Type A and Type B.

Domestic and light commercial appliances such as cookers, space heaters, catering equipment, and leisure appliances fall under Type A. If your gas heater needs repair, make sure a licensed gas fitter of Type A gas appliances does the safety check. On the other hand, Type B gas appliances are any gas appliances that do not fall under Type A appliances.

Inspect And Service Your Gas Heater Professionally

If you service your gas heater annually and operate it correctly, it should be both safe and cost-effective. Ensure that you observe all the precautions mentioned above while using your gas heater. If you detect a gas leak, reach out to a professional gas fitter to inspect and repair your gas heater.