Carbon Monoxide Testing
What Should You Know?

Carbon Monoxide

  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas.
  • It is toxic and in closed environments and can easily rise to lethal levels.
  • People die each year from carbon monoxide produced by faulty gas heaters.
  • Gas heater CO faults are usually arise from non serviced gas heaters or heaters that do not comply with manufacture or Australian Standards for installation or operation.
  • It is critical that gas heaters are tested and the results recorded by a licensed gas fitter for combustion spillage every 2 years, after servicing or repairs, or after alterations to the building that may negatively impact the buildings ventilation, including the installation of exhaust fans.
  • To evaluate the condition of your heater our technicians follow procedures set out by a combination of manufacturer recommendations and Australian Standards. Technologies such as pressure, temperature air flow and air analysis and other specific tests are utilised to evaluate the condition of your gas heater.
  • All measurements and analysis is documented in every gas heater service schedule.
  • The ultimate goal is to perform a regular (2 yearly) service test for Carbon Monoxide emissions. Regular servicing  is cost-effective and hopefully catches problems before they happen. This approach results in safety, a reduction in unplanned downtime and eliminates elevated costs due to failure of your heater.

Carbon Monoxide
Information, Links & FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and highly poisonous gas that is produced when natural gas or LPG burns. The human body doesn’t recognise when carbon monoxide is present, which means it can easily kill you – it’s often called ‘the silent killer’ for this reason.

Using gas appliances safely means they should only produce a small, safe amount of carbon monoxide.

Faulty or poorly maintained gas appliances present a very high risk of causing carbon monoxide poisoning of the people in your home.

If you have a gas appliance in your home, or you are a landlord who rents out homes with indoor gas appliances, ensure they are serviced every two years to minimise the risk of faults occurring.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may occur while using a gas appliance, or immediately after using one. Be aware of:

  • persistent tiredness and sleepiness
  • shortness of breath
  • mild and severe headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness.

Are you being affected by Carbon Monoxide?

If you feel all right when you are out in the fresh air but experience any of the symptoms listed above when using a gas appliance or heater in your home, seek immediate medical attention and tell your doctor that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning.

To determine if there is any carbon monoxide in your blood, the doctor will need to do a blood test. If the results confirm there is carbon monoxide in your blood, stop using your gas appliances at home immediately and organise for a licensed gas fitter to check and service them.

Extreme carbon monoxide poisoning may lead to confusion, loss of consciousness (this can occur quickly if the level of carbon monoxide is high) and even death.

Some people are especially sensitive or susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning including:

  • people with heart disease
  • people with anaemia
  • young children
  • pregnant women and their unborn babies
  • the elderly.

Treating someone with Carbon Monoxide poisoning

To treat a person who is suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, move them to a well ventilated, gas-free area. Call emergency services on 000 and start the DRSABCD resuscitation procedure, being careful not to inhale the air coming out of the patient.

Exposure limits and testing

If you are concerned about carbon monoxide levels in your home, workplace or any other area, contact a licensed gas fitter to test the levels for you.

The Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy provides health guidance on safe exposure levels of carbon monoxide, which includes an eight-hour time weighted average exposure limit in the workplace of 30 parts per million (ppm) (34 mg/m3).

Household appliances, such as gas fires, boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, cookers, and open fires which use gas, oil, coal and wood may be possible sources of CO gas. It happens when the fuel does not burn fully

Long term affects may include intellectual deterioration, memory impairment, and changes in emotional stability. It has been generally assumed that such effects only occur after severe poisoning. Short term exposure to high concentrations of carbon monoxide certainly produces changes in intellectual functioning.

carbon Monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, which makes it very difficult to detect. Appliances such as space heaters, gas stoves, furnaces and heaters can emit CO if not functioning correctly. 

  • You can only definitively find out if your gas heater is producing Carbon Monoxide by getting a qualified gas technician to check your heater. 
  • The technician should only use approved testing equipment that is regularly calibrated to provide true and correct readings. 
  • The technician should also follow correct testing procedures set out in  Australian Standards and by the gas heater manufacturer.
  • The technician should provide documented evidence of testing procedures and Carbon Monoxide readings during each phase of the testing procedures.

This therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a chamber in which the air pressure is about two to three times higher than normal. This speeds the replacement of carbon monoxide with oxygen in your blood. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used in cases of severe carbon monoxide poisoning.

The clinical diagnosis of acute carbon monoxide (COpoisoning should be confirmed by demonstrating an elevated level of carboxyhemoglobin (HbCO). Either arterial or venous blood can be used for testing. Analysis of HbCO requires direct spectrophotometric measurement in specific blood gas analyzers.

Carbon Monoxide is actually colourless, tasteless, and odourless. … When people call and say they can “smell carbon monoxide,” they are usually referring to other combustion byproducts. If you can smell combustion byproducts there is a problem that should be addressed as soon as possible.

Your gas heater should be checked by a licensed gas fitter every 2 years, after servicing or repairs, or after alterations the the building that may negatively impact the building’s ventilation, including the installation of exhaust fans.

The brain and heart require large amounts of oxygen and quickly suffer from any oxygen shortage. This makes even small amounts of carbon monoxide dangerous. Physical, non-reversible damage can occur. … Continued exposure to carbon monoxide can cause permanent brain, nerve, or heart damage.

All answers provided are sourced either from SA Gov gas safety advice or freely available public health & safety services. Protec Gas Services provides answers as a guide only and is not liable for any inaccuracies or omissions.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Videos

9 News Adelaide Carbon Monoxide

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