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How long since your gas system was safety checked in the past 5 years?

Aug 20, 2021

How long since your gas system was safety checked in the past 5 years?

How long since your gas system was safety checked in the past 5 years?

Older gas heaters must be CHECKED ANNUALLY

It’s widely publicised that leaking gas is a silent killer but not enough people heed the frequent government warnings. Odourless and colourless, the dangers of gas poisoning are largely invisible. Early symptoms are drowsiness and a slight headache.

Every winter dozens of South Australians get rushed to emergency departments for life-saving treatment. That’s why in autumn authorities urge householders to get all gas appliances professionally tested for safety.

Signs and Symptoms: Gas Leak Risks

  • Are your gas-powered appliances, heating or hot water service old?
  • Were they serviced a long time ago?
  • Have they been performing intermittently?
  • Any of your gas appliances installed by an unlicensed tradesman?

Can you explain to me in simple terms the risks of gas heaters and carbon monoxide poisoning? Sure. Let’s look at this dangerous case our Sharpe Technicians dealt with recently. The occupant was concerned about getting a headache after running the wall gas heater for an hour or so. We tested the unit’s carbon monoxide output – levels were between 176ppm (parts per million) & 221ppm. Readings over 30ppm can put you at risk. Levels around 200ppm send you into the danger zone and create early CO warning signs of dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and flu-like symptoms. At 400ppm, the situation can become life-threatening after just three hours.

How does carbon-monoxide poison This invisible gas rapidly accumulates in the bloodstream, depleting its ability to carry oxygen to vital organs. It’s a bit like suffocation. Long-term exposure at even lower levels can result in brain damage and other chronic health issues.

So how did this job pan out? We quickly decommissioned this leaky old  gas heater & quoted for a changeover to the latest model instant gas wall heater. The lesson learnt here is that regular service & checks are crucial for household safety. We’re not just talking about heaters, cooktops & ovens can also present risks. If you have any doubts about your appliances call a licensed qualified Sharpe expert.

So I need to get my gas system checked every year? Safety authorities recommend gas heaters, hot water systems and other appliances are professionally tested a minimum of every two years. However, with the likelihood that increasing numbers of people will be self-isolating at home this winter we suggest you play it safe and get the checks done now, especially if your system or appliance is more than a few years old.

I understand the dangers of older gas appliances, but surely more recently manufactured products are safe? Not necessarily. For example the SA Government’s Energy and Environment website has a section listing warnings and recalls on heaters with a range of build dates starting as recently as 2012. If you’ve just moved into a new house, how sure are you that the gas appliances were installed correctly and are operating safely?

Is it just the gas appliance that should be checked? A proper safety check undertaken by our technicians covers the entire system, including supply lines. For example external leaks can poison garden environments. In extreme cases a leak is a potential explosion waiting for an ignition source.

What’s the legal situation? A homeowner must only hire a professional, licensed technician to install and service a gas appliance. This includes room heaters, water heaters and stoves.

What are the indications my appliance could produce carbon monoxide? Carbon Monoxide is deadly because you can’t see or smell it, although there are signs that you may be at risk. If you notice black marks or discoloration on your gas appliance or flue, call a licensed gas technician immediately.

If the flames are no longer blue or are excessively large, this means there is incomplete combustion and a high chance of carbon monoxide. Dust or debris around the flue pipe is also a warning sign of blockages.

Increased Heating equals Increased Danger

Any gas appliance can put you at risk of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Every year in Australia, 364 people are hospitalised due to dangerous exposure to Carbon Monoxide. South Australia already has more per capita deaths from the gas than any state.

Just because your heater is flued, doesn’t mean you’re protected. The tragic deaths of Tyler & Chase Robinson happened as a result of a flued but faulty gas heater. The Foundation named after the boys to promote awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide has stated the best thing you can do to protect you and your family is to have your gas systems regularly serviced and tested by a licensed gas fitter.

Worrying Gas Safety Risks

Out of the 960 gas installations audited by the Office of the Technical Regulator, 66 received warnings about significant compliance issues or dangerous work. Considering that an estimated 79,000 residential and light commercial gas installation jobs were completed in Adelaide last year, hundreds could have significant safety issues.

You should always ensure you use a professional gas fitter, with an up-to-date licence and insist they provide you with a Certificate of Compliance with every job.

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