Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Your boiler can do a lot of things for your home, including heating the hot water that runs from your taps, to keeping your home warm during the colder months. While there is no doubt that your boiler is a crucial part of your home, it is a heavy-duty appliance, and you may be wondering if it can present any dangers.

Anything that is designed to operate at such high temperatures can present a potential danger, especially if it is poorly maintained, but we are going to be looking at one particular risk today. We will be going over the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home boilers.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas that you should avoid at all costs. It is the same gas that comes out of the exhaust pipes of internal combustion engines and one of the main by-products of fires.

This gas is incredibly dangerous because it doesn't necessarily require one of the previous sources to be produced. One of the terrifying aspects of carbon monoxide is that you can't see or smell it, so it can severely injure or even kill you without your knowledge.

Potential Carbon Monoxide Sources

One of the most common sources of carbon monoxide in a household is the boiler, but water heaters are also capable of giving off carbon monoxide. You will also find that gas stoves and some dryers will give off a measurable amount of carbon monoxide.

Gas appliances that have been maintained poorly or assembled incorrectly can also leak enough gas to present a hazard. Keep in mind that not all boilers are capable of leaking gas.

What Type of Boiler Can Leak Carbon Monoxide?

The typical variety of boiler that can cause issues with carbon monoxide is an open-flue boiler. These boilers are typically older varieties that make use of the air in a room for their combustion process, where newer ones usually have a dedicated air source. Since open-flue boilers use up the air that is in a room, you can't have the air in a home with one of these boilers stagnate, or it will slowly fill up with the by-products of the boiling process. As you may have guessed by this point, carbon monoxide is the substance that begins to saturate the air.

While open-flue boilers typically don’t spill carbon monoxide into the air, this occurs when there is no vent because there is no air to be sucked into the boiler. No air going into the boiler means that the carbon monoxide cannot go out of the chimney and it backs up into the room. This is why it is important to maintain and regularly service your boiler.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

So what are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning? The disturbing part about carbon monoxide poisoning is that the symptoms are so inconsistent. The effects can vary from person to person, and they will also depend on the severity of the exposure.

Some carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms simply resemble tiredness, so you may blame it on a lack of sleep, others can get nausea or vomiting. You may even feel like you have a fever or the flu, but you will recognize that you do not feel right.

Make sure that you keep an eye out for symptoms that only occur while you are home. If you find that your symptoms stop when you leave the house or that other people in the house are exhibiting similar symptoms.

Action List if You Suspect a Carbon Monoxide Leak

  • Open every possible opening of the home, including windows and doors.
  • Leave the house as soon as possible, ensure that all appliances (especially gas) are off.
  • Call any authorities related to gas emergencies in your local area.
  • Get yourself and the other inhabitants of your home checked by a medical professional.
  • Once the situation has stabilized, ensure that you install gas detectors in case of a future leak.

The Importance of Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors are appliances similar to smoke detectors (and they are sometimes merged into the same product) that can be potential life savers. If you have several gas appliances in your home, or if you are near a gas line that can potentially leak, you will want to install these detectors in your home. You will find that some areas require the installation of carbon monoxide or other gas detectors as a matter of law, but this is not as common as it should be.

Always Play it Safe

When it comes to carbon monoxide, you never want to take a chance. There have been many tragic stories caused by this gas, and a small investment in a gas detector can save thousands in medical bills or prevent worse.


We hope that this article has been able to help you better understand the dangers of carbon monoxide gas. Since this gas is so prevalent in our homes, carbon monoxide exposure is more likely than some would like to think.

If you are at any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, take the time to keep the people in your home safe.