Carbon Monoxide Alarms in NI

Given their fairly frequent mentions here, this news item might be of interest:
BBC News Northern Ireland 31 October 2012 Last updated at 06:35
Carbon monoxide alarms in new NI homes now compulsory
Carbon monoxide alarms have become a legal requirement in all new homes in Northern Ireland.
The new law comes as research suggests half of the UK population mistakenly believe their household smoke alarms will alert them to the gas.
The law follows the deaths of two teenagers from carbon monoxide poisoning in August 2010.
Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson died after a gas leak in a holiday apartment in Castlerock, County Londonderry.
The two young men, who were 18 years old, had been staying at the apartment near Coleraine with a third friend, Matthew Gaw, who survived. The three friends were found by relatives.
Their families have welcomed the news but said it only reaches about 5% of properties. They have called for more to be done.
"I think it's a great forward step, but this is only going to be new buildings, they still could go further," Aaron Davidson's mother Catriona said.
"We still need to push awareness of carbon monoxide, that it is a killer."
The new law also requires that an alarm be fitted whenever a boiler or solid fuel stove is upgraded or replaced.
A survey carried out by the Carbon Monoxide - Be Alarmed! campaign states that only 39% of people have a carbon monoxide alarm.
It also suggests that half of the UK population mistakenly believed their smoke alarm would alert them to carbon monoxide gas.
The research was carried out in September among 3,458 UK adults. It said 81% of those surveyed know that carbon monoxide can kill.
Carbon Monoxide - Be Alarmed! is the national campaign to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide.
The campaign is run by Energy UK on behalf of Britain's six major gas and electricity companies, in partnership with the Dominic Rodgers Trust.
From 31 October, Northern Ireland Building Regulations will require a carbon monoxide detector or alarm "in the room where the appliance is located. However, if the combustion appliance is installed in a room or space not normally used e.g. a boiler room/cupboard, the detector/alarm should be located just outside the room or space".
The research findings also included:
57% of respondents said they did not have an audible carbon monoxide alarm in their home - the equivalent of more than 35 million people in Britain. A further 4% said they did not know if they had one. 93% of those surveyed agreed that a similar law to that being introduced in Northern Ireland should be considered for the rest of the UK. Many people did not know carbon monoxide can also cause long-term health problems, including heart problems (93% unaware), long-term brain damage (62% unaware) and respiratory problems (34% unaware).
Poisoning deaths
Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, charcoal, coal and wood do not burn completely.
The most common cause of this is when an appliance, such as a boiler or cooker, is installed incorrectly or poorly maintained. Carbon monoxide can also build up when flues, chimneys or vents are blocked.
The Department of Health estimates that 50 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, and at least 4,000 are treated in hospital, in the UK each year.
However, the Carbon Monoxide - Be Alarmed! group says that figure is likely to be much higher, as carbon monoxide poisoning is very difficult to diagnose because symptoms are often similar to common illnesses like flu and food poisoning.
Meanwhile, safety checks carried out by the fire service in more than 22,000 homes across Merseyside in England found that fewer than one in 10 had a carbon monoxide alarm.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20149879
Yes - we do have a CO alarm.
--
Rod

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You still have to persuade people to renew the batteries and even be bothered to test them.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 31/10/2012 08:14, harry wrote:

And in little as two years after the house is built the installed alarm will have to be replaced
--
mailto:newsadmac(dot}myzencouk

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Most of them have a seven year life. Allegedly.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 01/11/2012 07:36, harry wrote:

For some it's the life of battery that is 7 years without changing. The life of the sensor is subject to the operating environment - installed in a house with smokers, use of aerosol air fresheners etc.
And then there is the usual get out clause: "may not protect people with special risk - age, pregnancy or a medical condition."
--
mailto:newsadmac(dot}myzencouk

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
polygonum wrote:

Radio5 mangled the story into
    50% of the population believes a smoke alarm     will alert them to a gas leak.
no mention of the gas in question being CO rather than natural gas.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

<snip>
As others will be pointing out a gas leak does not give you carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide comes from incomplete combustion where lack of oxygen prevents the full combustion giving carbon dioxide and water. Hence the recent deaths due to smouldering BBQs being brought into tents.
A faulty gas appliance could cause CO poisoning, but a gas leak would not.
I also assume that a CO monitor would not detect a gas leak (although it would be good if it did).
The main problem with CO is that it is odourless so sneaks up on you and disables you before you realise what is happening.
Natural gas is (and coal gas was) also an odourless killer which is why they add a chemical to the gas so that you can 'smell gas' and realise that there is a leak.
Cheers
Dave R
--
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
[Not even bunny]
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 31 Oct 2012 09:50:33 +0000, David WE Roberts wrote:

Methane isn't poisonous though, merely an asphyxiant (sp ?). CO is *very* toxic. The chemical added is a mercaptan IIRC - added where they bring the gas onshore.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Natural gas is not particularly toxic. The main risk is that of explosion, or in high concentrations, in diluting the remaining oxygen in the air by displacement.

Coal gas was a mixture of lots of things and varied according to the impurities in the coal, but the main toxic component was carbon monoxide, so the risk was both from unburned gas, and incompletely burned gas.

Natural gas has a scent added, mostly methyl mercaptan - one of the strongest smelling gasses known.
Town gas smelt different. I don't know if there was a scent added, or if it was just the result of the impurities in the coal. I was reminded of it recently, when removing a length of old iron gas main pipe, long since disconnected and blocked off, which still smelt of town gas. I had not smelt this for some 40 years, but instantly recognised it. Funny how well you remember old smells.
--
Andrew Gabriel
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm struggling to see how a fault on a room sealed appliance (isn't that every boiler now?) could result in a CO leak to the room side.
--
fred
it's a ba-na-na . . . .
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

a leak in the seal? Possibly, case not put back properly after a service?
--
From KT24

Using a RISC OS computer running v5.18
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Flue too close to building opening, and specific wind conditions.
In one of the recent UK cases, the CO leaked into the next door home, and killed someone sleeping there. I have a vague recollection they didn't have gas heating themselves.
--
Andrew Gabriel
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 31/10/2012 18:13, Andrew Gabriel wrote:

There was another case recently (not reported on that well as usual) where the boiler itself was supposedly fitted correctly, but the concentric flue termination had a push fit join that was made but then the retaining screw not put in to stop the collar on the pipe eventually allowing the connection pull apart if subject to vibration.
(although even that presumably required some other fault to result in there being enough CO generation in the first place to cause a problem with being exposed to the flue gas)
--
Cheers,

John.

/=================================================================\
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

All fan assisted now I think so poor sealing results in small amounts of air being drawn from the room rather than exhaust leaking into it. Fan failure or gross leak would result in the differential air switch shutting down the boiler. Concentric flue with inlet air on the outside and exhaust on the inside again results in exhaust leaks being sucked back into the inlet.
That said, cases highlighted by John and Andrew do exist (gross negligence in installation in the former resulting in a manslaughter conviction and prison) but I regard them as so rare as to make the compulsory fit of CO monitors unnecessary.
--
fred
it's a ba-na-na . . . .
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.