With Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard
Winter is coming and we’ve got an important energy safety message to share about gas heaters.
You could be putting your health and your family’s health at risk if you don’t follow this advice.
Gas heaters are an effective way to keep warm but if they are faulty, poorly maintained or misused they can leak carbon monoxide (CO) gas, which can be lethal.
Recently, during the annual Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week (April 29 – May 5) my colleague Ken Bowron, Director of Energy Safety, took the opportunity to remind WA householders to have their gas heaters serviced before using them this winter and I would like to echo what he said.
With heaters sitting idle over summer, air filters, air ways, fans and burners can become blocked by lint and dust. This can lead to overheating and burner problems producing carbon monoxide gas.
Gas appliances should be checked and serviced as per the manufactures instructions or at least every two years. If the appliance is more than 10 years old, it should be checked annually. You can check the date of the last service by viewing the service sticker attached to the gas appliance. If it is due for a service contact a licensed gas fitter or service agent to arrange a service.
Signs that your gas appliance isn’t working correctly and requires a service include:
- discolouration on the outer case of the appliance;
- difficulty relighting; or
- a yellow flame rather than a steady blue flame.
As well as maintenance, good ventilation is vital to prevent the build-up of harmful CO levels. If you’re using a gas heater or BBQ, without an exhaust system, in your al fresco and you pull down patio blinds or shutters, this can cause dangerous levels of the poisonous gas. For the same reason you should not take these sorts of outdoor appliances indoors.
What’s really worrying is that carbon monoxide gas is colourless and odourless, so you may not know you have been poisoned. Symptoms can vary from headaches and fatigue when exposure is low level to vomiting or seizures if you’re exposed to high levels and even coma or death!
Suspected inhalation of carbon monoxide / poisoning requires immediate medical attention.
For more information or to check that your gas fitter is licensed visit www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/building-and-energy.
A number of gas heaters have been subject to product safety recalls and you can check if your model is affected at www.recalls.gov.au.