Servicing Gas Appliances

February 17, 2012 5:30 am Published by
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We were asked the other day by a customer in Balwyn about the servicing of gas appliances and the dangers of Carbon Monoxide {CO} poisoning.
So we thought it was important to share some of the information involved.
Within a gas appliance, the gas is regulated and passes through a fine injector in order to allow the correct proportion of gas and air to mix within the combustion chamber where the fuel is burned.

The gas appliance has many safety measures to ensure that gas will not flow through the appliance until it is required and that it can be burned safely. When gas is burned it is converted to water vapour and carbon dioxide, both of which are harmless gases, being present in the atmosphere and within the air we breath. However, if for some reason insufficient oxygen is available in the air used for the combustion process, incomplete combustion can occur and as a result carbon monoxide is produced.
Fuels that we burn including coal, wood, oil and gas are hydrocarbons, which are made up of hydrogen and carbon in various proportions. Both of these elements can be burned in the presence of oxygen and if completely consumed, are converted to harmless carbon dioxide{CO2} and water vapour {H2O}. However, if insufficient oxygen is available to support the combustion process, carbon monoxide {CO} may be produced because the carbon is not fully converted to CO2.
Carbon Monoxide does not have an odour and therefore cannot easily be detected. An appliance can discharge small quantities of these combustion products into the home without detection.
Common symptoms that often simply attributed to stress or tiredness from overwork. If in doubt, have your fuel burning appliances checked by a qualified licenced gas fitter.

Typical effects of carbon monoxide {CO} poisoning.
Percentage of CO          Symptoms / effect in adults
in the air
Less than 0.01               Slight headache after 1-2 hours
0.01-0.02                       Mild headache plus feeling sick and dizzy after  2-3 hours
0.02-0.05                       Strong headache, palpitations and sickness within 1-2 hours
0.05-0.15                       Severe headache and sickness within half an hour
0.15-0.3                         Severe headache and sickness within 10 minutes:
                                      convulsions and possible death after 15 minutes
0.3-0.6                           Severe symptoms within 1-2 minutes and death
                                      within 15 minutes
1% or more                    Immediate symptoms and death within 1-3 minutes
Very small proportions of carbon monoxide within a room can prove fatal very quickly.
It is important to note the location of the emergency control valve at the point of entry to your home. This should be accessible at all times so that, if required, the supply can be shut off very quickly.
Carbon Monoxide {CO} gas is the result of incomplete combustion. Fuel requires oxygen to burn, and even if insufficient oxygen is reaching the fuel, combustion will still occur, but the fuel will not be completely consumed and CO will be given off.
Where an appliance has an air supply via a grill, do not block it.
Due to the potential danger of incorrectly installed gas fittings, the installation of pipework and the provision for it falls under very strict regulations and should only be performed by a licensed gas fitter.
It is illegal to work on your own gas installation pipework or appliances.

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