Gas and carbon monoxide safety
Published on 08 February 2022
Gas appliances need to be serviced regularly to ensure they’re working properly and efficiently. If they’re not serviced regularly, there’s a risk that they could emit carbon monoxide gas. It has no smell, so it's very difficult to detect and can be fatal.
Gas safety checks
We’ll make an appointment for you each year and send you a notification by post. It’s important that you keep this appointment or contact us to rearrange. You can do this by calling
England & Wales: 01772 666 091.
Scotland: 0131 657 0600 and select option 1 followed by option 2.
At the annual gas safety check, we visually check the safety of customers’ own gas appliances. Our teams will also provide annual safety checks for unmetered gas supplies and solid fuel installations.
We’ll provide and maintain carbon monoxide detectors in locations where we’ve provided open flued gas appliances (e.g., fires, ovens, and hobs).
When the engineer calls
Our gas engineers are Gas Safe registered and carry a Gas Safe Register ID card. They'll check that your gas installations, appliances, pipes, and flues are safe. The engineer will leave a card asking you to make another appointment if you're not in.
We’ll post you out a copy of the landlord safety record within 28 days of completion.
Do I have to do anything?
Make sure someone over the age of 18 is at home for the appointment. If you need to change it, simply contact us to rearrange a time that's more suitable.
Please be aware that it’s part of your tenancy agreement to allow access for gas checks, and as the tenant it’s your responsibility to make arrangements to allow us access.
For an external meter, if we’ve been unable to gain access, we may automatically cap the gas until we’re able to carry out the gas safety check.
If you can smell gas:
- Turn off the gas supply. The main gas on/off lever can be found next to your gas meter.
- Open windows and doors. This will allow any gas which has built up in your home to disperse.
- Do not turn lights or sockets on or off, or light any matches. It can often generate sparks which could be enough to ignite any escaped gas in the air.
- Ring the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous substance produced by the incomplete combustion of gas and Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG).
This can happen when a gas appliance has been incorrectly fitted, badly repaired, or poorly maintained. It can also occur if flues, chimneys, or vents are blocked.
Oil and solid fuels such as coal, wood, petrol, and oil can also produce carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is invisible, odourless, and tasteless, but it can kill quickly and with no warning. Unsafe gas appliances produce this highly poisonous gas. It can cause death as well as serious long-term health problems, including brain damage.
What is carbon monoxide poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when you breathe in the gas, even if it’s just a small amount. When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it gets into your bloodstream and prevents your red blood cells from carrying oxygen. Without oxygen, your body tissue and cells die.
Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health when breathed in over a long period of time. Long-term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning include paralysis and brain damage. Such long-term effects occur because many people are unaware of unsafe gas appliances and subsequent gas leaks.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to many illnesses, including food poisoning, flu and simply being tired. Because of this, many people ignore the signs.
There are six main symptoms to look out for:
- loss of consciousness
If your symptoms only occur when at home, they disappear when you leave your home, or other people in your household are experiencing symptoms (including your pets) and they appear at a similar time, this could also point to carbon monoxide poisoning.
If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Get fresh air immediately. Open doors and windows, turn off gas appliances, and leave the house.
- See your doctor immediately or go to the hospital – tell them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. They can do a blood or breath test to check.
- If you think there is immediate danger, call the Gas Emergency Helpline on 0800 111 999.
Don’t assume your gas appliances are safe: get a Gas Safe-registered gas engineer to do a check. This is the only safe way to prevent yourself and those around you from incurring serious illness or death due to carbon monoxide exposure.
Spotting the signs of carbon monoxide in your home
Any one of the following could be a sign that there is carbon monoxide in your home. Get your gas appliances checked to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The flame on your cooker should be crisp and blue. Lazy yellow or orange flames mean you need to get your cooker checked.
- Soot or yellow/brown staining around or on appliances.
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out.
- Increased condensation inside windows.
- Coal or wood fires burning slowly or going out.
- Fire is difficult to light.
- The room is not properly ventilated.
- The chimney or flue is blocked and smoke enters the room.
Why should I get a carbon monoxide alarm?
Because carbon monoxide has no taste, smell or colour, the Gas Safe Register strongly recommends you fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home.
While an alarm will alert you to carbon monoxide in your home, you’ll still need to have regular checks conducted by a Gas Safe-registered engineer.
A carbon monoxide alarm looks similar to a smoke alarm and is very easy to fit by following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will state the correct position, which will be within a metre of the ceiling and on the opposite side of the appliance. You can purchase a carbon monoxide alarm for under £20 at your local DIY store, supermarket, or energy supplier.
Before purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, always make sure it’s officially approved to the EN 50291 standard. It must have a British or European approval mark on it, such as a Kitemark.
You’re particularly at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping, as you may not be aware of early carbon monoxide symptoms until it’s too late. We don’t recommend using the ‘black spot’ detectors that change colour when carbon monoxide is present. These will not make a sound to wake you up if the poisonous gas is present while you’re sleeping.
What preventative measures can you take against carbon monoxide exposure?
- Ensure there’s always enough fresh air in the room containing your gas appliance and that vents aren’t covered.
- Ensure all appliances that are your responsibility are serviced regularly by a Gas Safe-registered engineer.
- If you plan to sleep in a room with a gas appliance in it, contact us for advice.
- Do not use un-flued appliances like paraffin heaters and cabinet heaters.
Solid fuel safety
Although there’s no legal requirement, once a year we service the open flued appliance and inspect the chimney. You’ll receive a letter arranging an appointment for us to carry out these works.
On the day of the service, you’ll be unable to light your fire until the service has been completed.
The service will take approximately two hours, and we make sure to leave your home clean and tidy. We’ll use dust sheets to cover furniture and floors.
All emergency repairs need to be reported by phone. Please call us immediately on:
Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Emergency repairs that should be reported immediately include:
- Gas leaks
- Uncontainable water leaks
- Complete loss of heating and hot water
- Electrical or fire risk
- Property security
An emergency repair is any problem that could be a security risk or cause harm to you, another person, or your property.