If you are considering your health this winter it might be a good idea to take a look at your heating system. Most electricians who are experienced with gas will tell you that even though unvented gas heaters seem to be popular, they produce not only carbon dioxide, (CO2) but carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
The health hazards of CO are many and dangerous, since it is considered a toxic gas. Any form of heating that is unvented means that the products produced from burning the fuel remain in the room or the whole house. So if you have a gas heater with no vent, you are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially if the heater is left on all night and there are few cracks or gaps in the house to let fresh air in and poisons out.
Carbon monoxide is colourless, tasteless, non-irritating and odourless so you won’t even know you are being poisoned. In fact, it is said to poison more people than all other poisons put together and most of this can be attributed to unvented gas heaters or even vented ones that burn incorrectly due to any number of things such as rust on the burner or the improper placement of artificial logs. CO causes both brain damage and organ damage.
Nitrogen dioxide or NO2 is another toxic gas produced by a burning flame. It has been linked to the increase of asthma that occurs during winter. It also causes –
- Sore throat
- And is an upper respiratory tract irritant that produces a cough
Even carbon dioxide CO2 causes drowsiness and headaches, but it is not considered ‘toxic’.
Another problem caused by any unvented heater in the home including gas is water vapour. Without proper venting, the water vapour that is produced can be a hazard in a home that is already moist enough. It sits on the ceiling and walls and causes mould to form.
The best way to prevent the problems of using an unvented gas heater is to discontinue its use. Most people don’t seem to want to do this, possibly due to the cost of replacement. Older gas heaters should most certainly be discontinued, with some of the newer models having certainly controls on them such as ODS pilots.
Even so, experts recommend unvented gas heaters be used no more than 4 hours per day since they are meant to supplement other heating methods rather than provide the main heating source. They should certainly not be used in small confined spaces such as bedrooms and bathrooms.