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Carbon monoxide alarm - does it warrant a trip to the GP regardless?

(14 Posts)
tigercametotea Mon 20-Dec-10 16:13:58

Last night at around 11pm when DH was running a bath, the carbon monoxide alarm went off. We usually place it on the gas boiler. We live in rented accomodation and the gas boiler is situated inside a tiny little cubicle with a closed door, and not sure where else to put it. DH immediately took out the batteries to stop it beeping, then moved DS's cot to our room (as DS sleeps in that room where the boiler is) and said he will call the landlord in the morning to arrange for the landlord's contractor to check it out. Well its now 4 pm already and the contractor's only just phoned saying he's been very busy today and will try to get to our place today to give our boiler a check. I've been feeling quite anxious about this (have a history of panic attacks) but DH told me I'm overreacting and its probably nothing serious and that the alarm is just super sensitive because its been placed too close to the boiler.

That said, my DH, has broken all the "precautions" that gas safety advice gives regarding CO alarms going off. Through the course of today, he has used the stove, switched on TVs and computers, and basically just went about his business as if nothing had happened, and no we haven't had an explosion yet!

Should I go down to the GP for a check though? I'm not sure if what I'm feeling (a bit lightheaded, and a bit of the butterflies in stomach feeling) is just anxiety over this situation, or if it is CO poisoning. My DCs though, all 3 of them, appear perfectly well, including my DH, so I'm now wondering if its just nerves!

Chaotica Mon 20-Dec-10 16:26:30

You won't get an explosion with CO - you'll just suffocate. I don't think you need a GP but you do need your boiler checked. Have you put the batteries back and put the alarm back on yet? (I would.)

(There is no problem with using computers etc with CO, that's with a gas leak.)

I would suggest turning the boiler off, but it's too cold for that to be the most sensible advice. Can you open the window in the room where the boiler is until it gets checked out? (That advice was given to me by the gas man who wanted to shut off our boiler in rented accomodation as it was dangerous.)

libelulle Mon 20-Dec-10 16:29:50

With the proviso that don't know anything much about this, I wouldn't have thought that the alarm being sensitive or not had much to do with it - boilers should not be emitting carbon monoxide at all if they are correctly ventilated. If it is just you feeling ill and not your family, I think you need to focus on getting the boiler fixed rather than going to the GP who won't be able to do a great deal.

But as for the explosion potential, I'd have thought if it's got to explosive concentrations, you'd all be extremely ill, so I wouldn't worry about that.

Of course, alarms go off all the time without there beign just cause - our fire alarm goes off in the middle of hte night quite regularly, and our house has definitely not burnt down. All the same, I do think you shouldn't ignore this.

<waits for someone with greater scientific expertise to come along!>

Tootlesmummy Mon 20-Dec-10 16:30:14

I wouldn't be happy to sleep in the house as it is something that creeps up on you.

You may feel a slight headache and maybe achey, a bit like flu. However carbon monoxide poisoning is very serious do I would chase the contractor for them to come out as an emergency.

GreenButton Mon 20-Dec-10 18:04:30

Carbon monoxide is known as the "silent killer" - I understand your GP can take a blood sample to test for CO in your blood.

I advise turning the boiler off. Has your landlord had the boiler serviced and obtained a Gas-safe Certificate (a legal requirement) in the last year?

nightcat Mon 20-Dec-10 18:35:07

co alarm needs to be at lowest level, my understanding is that CO sinks to the floor and it binds with hemoglobin instead of oxygen
I'd say you need to urgently service or replace boiler and it wouldn't hurt to check your ds. Don't let him sleep there.

CarGirl Mon 20-Dec-10 18:41:30

Have you checked the obvious and it wasn't an alarm to let you know the batteries were running low - ours did this a few weeks ago.

tigercametotea Mon 20-Dec-10 20:06:21

Hi all, thanks for your response. Well the landlord's contractor finally got here at about 6 pm ish, and he took the boiler apart and had a good look, and told me its very unlikely its the boiler's fault as its quite new and the boiler is not the "open flue type" (don't really know what that means)... but it seemed like it meant that there was a pipe that brings air from the outside of the house directly into the boiler so the boiler doesn't actually utilise the air in the room for the flame to burn.

He had a look at the other gas appliances in the house and concluded that it was probably a false alarm caused by inappropriate positioning of the CO alarm. We were advised to install it high up i.e. ceiling, right by the boiler room.

So I am happy on the one hand that he's given us the all clear.

tigercametotea Mon 20-Dec-10 20:07:48

On the other hand, I may go down to the GP if those weird dull throbbing pains don't stop soon... Have been having them for the past 2 days though have also been having my period (its almost stopping now)... Sorry if its tmi shock

tigercametotea Mon 20-Dec-10 20:08:45

nightcat : I was told it is usually installed high up... I will have to doublecheck on that one...

tigercametotea Mon 20-Dec-10 20:10:14

cargirl : the CO alarm is brand new, only had it a few months, and the battery is new too... we had a look through the user manual last night (and the landlord's contractor read it through just now too) and it really seems like its not a fault of the CO alarm or the batteries...

undercovasanta Mon 20-Dec-10 20:21:36


Install fairly high up and not on top or right next to boiler/fire. We have ours fairly near our fire, but not right next to. We don't have one upstairs, but tbh its the loudest alarm I've ever heard so can't imagine we would sleep through it as we don't live in a mansion!

nightcat Mon 20-Dec-10 20:51:38

Tiger, I had another search, found that it's marginally lighter than air, but not a lot.
I think the general advice is probably to put the alarm more or less where the head would be (or just above), going by the fact that it will start higher when first emitted, but as it cools down it will slowly come down. In another link I read that apparently there is a possible link with houses affected by ghosts, where the hallucinations might have been in fact the effect of low levels of CO in the air.
Hope your ds is OK.
And thanks for the idea, I am getting the CO detector for Christmas!

Tootlesmummy Mon 20-Dec-10 21:41:36

Nightcat, I'm glad that out of this story at least one person is getting a detector fitted.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is awful and I have first hand experience of what it does to people and the terrible consequences it can bring.

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