Five things you should tell your customers about CO safety

We spotted this article on CO poisoning by Honeywell in PHAM News and felt it is well worth a read:

“Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is still responsible for more than 50 deaths every year in the UK, yet only around one-third of UK households have a working CO alarm. Honeywell have highlighted five points that every installer should be telling their customers:

1 The silent killer

Carbon monoxide is odourless, colourless and tasteless.  Unlike a fire, which you can see and smell, a CO leak provides absolutely no warning. What’s more, depending on the scale of the leak, the homeowner could be suffering from low-level symptoms for months, completely unaware of the cause.

As an installer, communicating the most common symptoms could eventually save a customer’s life. A low level leak could result in headaches, nausea, dizziness, tiredness and shortness of breath. CO poisoning often manifests in such a way that it can be confused with flu or food poisoning, however, it does not cause a fever – an important differentiating factor.

2. A colour change spot detector isn’t enough

You may find that certain homeowners already believe that their CO protection is complete, relying upon a colour change spot detector that works in a similar way to litmus paper by changing colour in the presence of CO.

These detectors are inadequate for a number of reasons. Firstly, no matter how prominently the detector is located, it is unlikely that the homeowner will check the unit every day, so if a colour change is triggered, there is every chance the homeowner will fail to notice. Secondly, if there is a major CO leak during the night, then the detector is effectively useless.

In addition, because the sensors degrade over time, these spot detectors need to be regularly replaced, typically every three to six months, or they become ineffective.

3. Legal compliance does not equal best practice

When completing an installation for a landlord, you may find that whilst their property complies with legal CO requirements, it’s still unsafe. Many incidents of CO poisoning are the result of badly maintained or faulty gas appliances such as boilers or cookers, which are not specifically addressed by the legislation.

In light of this, it’s best to recommend a CO alarm in every room housing a fuel burning appliance, and for proper protection, an alarm in any bedroom above these, too.

4. Siting is crucial

Locating an alarm inappropriately can have a serious impact on its functionality, reducing its efficiency and effectiveness. Ideally, a CO alarm should generally be positioned high up on a wall, typically 30cm from the ceiling, and 1m away from boilers, fires, cookers or heaters. It can be free-standing on a shelf, as long as the recommended positioning requirements are met.

Bear in mind that the location could be different for a gas-fired appliance and a wood burning stove. The nature of  a solid-fuel stove means that the doors will be opened intermittently in order to add further fuel, which means occasional bursts of CO will enter the room, potentially triggering the alarm if it is sited too close to the appliance.

5. Quality matters

It may be tempting for homeowners to find the cheapest option online, but it’s important for installers to communicate the benefit of choosing a well-established brand with BSI certification: EN50291-1 2010/EN50291-2 2010. The difference in price is negligible, and when it comes to safety it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.”

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Understanding banding for pipework containing water

We have found that we are receiving lots of enquiries regarding the BS 1710:2014 requirements for water pipe banding, with many people being unclear on the colour coding required.  Below is a brief description of the BS requirements which may be of help.  We would however recommend contacting the British Standard office or your local water authority for full details.  Since 2014 the British Standard Regulations recommend that all pipework containing water should be clearly banded to denote where water is derived from and whether it is potable or non-potable.  The basic identification colour Green 12-D-45 is still used for the outside bands, together with the centre band being in the safety or code colour Auxiliary Blue 18-E-53 if the water is derived from the Public Water Supply. However, if the water is derived from Any Other Source, ie. a borehole, the centre band should be in the safety or code colour Flint Grey 00-A-09.  In addition, if the water is non-potable (not suitable for drinking) it should have the additional centre band in the safety/code colour Black 00-E-53. This also applies to pipework for Fire Safety systems that contain water and should follow the same format as above, but these have an additional centre band in the safety/code colour Red 04-E-53.  All safety and code colours should be of equal widths and to the minimum requirements for the pipe diameter including any lagging, as detailed in the BSI Standards Publication ‘Specification for identification of pipelines and services’ BS 1710:2014.

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Do your customers know how to find their valves?

valve-tagsGive your customers peace of mind.  Label up their valves so that if they have a water leak or think they can smell gas they know where to turn off their stopcock or gas valve, saving valuable time in an emergency.

And for the ultimate customer service, put your details on the valve tag so that your customer can quickly get in touch with you.

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