When installing a new appliance in your home, you want to make sure that you are protected from carbon monoxide, including a gas fireplace.
Any appliance can cause safety issues, be it electric, gas, or other. However, with gas-powered appliances, there is a risk that you can have carbon monoxide leaks which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Unfortunately, if this does happen, the consequences can be deadly. This is why it is important to know the risks and how to prevent accidents.
In this article, we will tell you everything that you need to know about how gas fireplaces work, how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as the signs to look out for.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by damaged, unserviced, or even faulty appliances. These can include gas fires, boilers, heating systems, fires, water heaters, etc., as they can all produce carbon monoxide.
How do Gas Fireplaces Work?
Many people associate gas fireplaces with the old versions when smoke could easily fill the room. However, modern gas fireplaces are a much more convenient appliance. The smoke from the fire is funneled up a small tube to the outside, removing the need for a chimney.
It uses the movement of air channels to heat a room as efficiently as possible. Typically the fire consists of “logs” used to cover up the gas vents, and everything is kept behind glass. This gives you the traditional look of a fire without all the hassle of actually needing to keep it burning.
There are even some gas fireplaces on the market that do not require a ventilation tube. This is because when gas burns, it does so cleanly, meaning that the products of combustion (water vapor and carbon dioxide) can enter your room. However, the use of these fireplaces is still contested for smaller spaces.
Gas fireplaces remain very popular because they are much more efficient than traditional fireplaces. They allow all of the heat to be pushed into the room as there is no chimney for the hot air to escape.
How do I know if my Gas Fireplace is Leaking Carbon Monoxide?
The problem with carbon monoxide is that it is almost impossible to detect. That is, of course, unless you have a detector. Any gas-powered appliance can leak carbon monoxide, especially if they are old or damaged.
So, the best thing that you can do to prevent your gas fireplace from leaking carbon monoxide is to get it serviced regularly. The professional will spot any signs of concern and help you get them fixed as soon as possible.
Although the best way to detect a carbon monoxide leak is to have a detector in your house, there are a few other things that you can look for:
- Soot building up
- Rust from water in your vent
- Loose or disconnected connections in the vent
- Physical symptoms
- A yellow flame (rather than blue)
- A build-up of smoke in the room
- Pilot light often going out
If you are unsure whether or not you leak your gas fireplace, it is always better safe than sorry. Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer,” so be careful and take precautions.
Dangers of Carbon Monoxide from Gas Fireplace
Unfortunately, carbon monoxide from a gas fireplace, or from any other source for that matter, is very dangerous. It is deadly. This is because carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood which can cause organs to fail.
Even if you manage to catch and solve the problem before it becomes fatal, there are still other serious symptoms that can occur due to carbon monoxide poisoning. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
Among many others. If you have any concerns, then it is best to call your emergency medical hotline to get their advice and evacuate your home. Once you have been looked after, you can then hire the help of a professional who will be able to stop any leaks and restore your home to normal working conditions.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in a Room
Because carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect in a room, it is best to look to yourself for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. You will probably not tell that there is a leak, except by how you feel.
If you have spent more than a few minutes in a room (especially if it has a gas appliance in it) and you begin to feel any of the following symptoms, you should leave the house immediately. Call a family member or friend and wait outside.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in a room are:
- Stomach pains
- Feeling sick
- Tiredness and/or confusion
- Trouble breathing
Unfortunately, no one symptom sets carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms apart from many other illnesses, such as the flu or food poisoning. However, the symptoms will continue to worsen if you do not remove yourself from the room containing the carbon monoxide.
What to do after you’ve been Exposed to Carbon Monoxide
If you think that you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide, it is better to be safe rather than sorry as it can have very unfortunate consequences. You should get out of your house as soon as possible and wait outside. You should also tell any other people in your house to wait outside.
Once you have safely got out of your home, you should go to the nearest A;E department. You may need to ask a friend, relative, or neighbor to help get you there. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause Dizziness and confusion, meaning that you should not be behind the wheel of a car.
Once you have arrived at the hospital, explain that you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning. The staff will then need to take a blood sample for analysis to determine the amount of carboxyhemoglobin in your blood. This will tell them whether or not you have been exposed to carbon monoxide.
Do you need a Carbon Monoxide Detector with Gas Fireplace?
The simple answer is that you do indeed need a carbon monoxide detector with a gas fireplace. This is purely to keep you safe. Carbon monoxide has no odor, and so unlike with other types of gas leaks, you will not be able to detect it via smell.
Instead, people often find out that they have a gas leak when it is too late. They have either already been exposed to carbon monoxide in the short term or the long term. Exposure to carbon monoxide over a long period can lead to long-term health consequences, such as concentrating or thinking and severe mood swings. These neurological changes can cause permanent damage.
Safety Precautions to Take when Using Gas Fireplaces
The best thing that you can do when living in a house with a gas fireplace is to take the proper safety precautions. These will help you keep you safe, and you will not need to worry about leaks.
A few of the things that you can do include:
- Have yearly maintenance and checkups
- Keep the clearance zone around the fireplace clear
- Have a double glass barrier
- Warn children about the dangers of fireplaces
- Install a carbon monoxide detector
Following these basic guidelines will help to keep you and your loved ones safe. You should not attempt to tinker with your gas fireplace unless you know exactly what you are doing. If you notice anything wrong with your fireplace, then you should call a professional for help.
Gas Fireplace Maintenance Tips
Ensuring that you keep your gas fireplace in top working condition is a great way to minimize the risk of something going wrong. They allow your fireplace to work as it should while keeping you and your family safe.
A few of the things that you should do regularly are getting your gas fireplace serviced regularly (make sure you give the pilot light enough time to cool down before), keep the glass clean, keep the system clean by removing any dust or dirt that has built up over time, check the paint for any bubbles as this can be a sign of faults.
Gas fireplaces can be a great addition to a home as they can quickly heat a room. However, you must take the necessary safety precautions. Unlike other types of gas, which can be detected by smell, carbon monoxide is odorless and can, unfortunately, be a side effect of a faulty gas fireplace.
It would help if you made yourself and your family aware of the symptoms and the signs to look for. Knowing these will help keep you all safe, and you can evacuate your home at the first signs of any issues. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning leave the house and head to the nearest A;E department.