It's a silent danger that has claimed dozens of lives – but only 25 per cent of Australian homes are equipped to identify it, according to research commissioned by gas alarm maker Nest. The mysterious menace threatening public health is carbon monoxide (CO), a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas formed by incomplete combustion in heating appliances.

Raising awareness around the dangers of this poisonous gas is critical to saving lives. Only then will Australians be able to protect themselves and those they love from CO through regular maintenance and gas testing of their heating appliances.

The truth about CO

Research for the Department of Resources found CO poisoning sends 21 people (on average) to the emergency department annually. Despite this figure, Nest research found nearly half of all Australians aren't aware of the difficulties in identifying CO in their homes.

Exposure to CO is often not immediately noticeable, with common issues such as headaches, nausea and dizziness symptoms of low-level CO build up. However, if left unchecked, chronic CO poisoning will start to reduce oxygen levels in the blood and attack the central nervous system. Over time this can manifest as persistent shortness of breath, amnesia spells and even temporary psychosis.

Unfortunately CO has also been the cause of a number of high profile deaths nationwide in the last two decades, including in the tragic passing of two Victorian children in 2010. This kickstarted an increasingly vocal awareness campaign about the dangers of the gas – but there is still work to be done in ensuring CO doesn't claim anymore lives.

How to prevent CO build up in your home

CO forms (in place of carbon dioxide) when there isn't ample airflow to your heater for full fuel combustion. Gas levels can then build if the appliance is blocked or wear and tear prevents gas from escaping out the flue. Dirty, old and unserviced heaters operating in smaller, poorly ventilated dwellings are at the greatest risk. However, all gas appliances, including central heating units, wall heaters and gas log fires, can cause CO spillage.

Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) recommends servicing all types of gas heaters every two years at minimum. This work should only be performed by a licenced gas fitter who has completed the registered Master Plumbers CO training course. All technicians should also have the most advanced instruments for comprehensive flue gas analysis, draught recording and pressure testing.

The testo 300 flue gas analyser and CO testing

Testo Australia is the preferred instrument provider for technicians nationwide because of our commitment to raising awareness about advanced solutions that help lower the risk of gas poisoning. ESV's 2015 'Cold Feet' campaign, developed to raise CO awareness, featured Testo's 320 combustion analyser kit as the instrument used to check for gas spillage from a central heating appliance. Our dedication to combating the dangers of CO continues with our new testo 300 flue gas analyser.

Testo's 300 flue gas analyser is ideal for monitoring and collating the most important heating system measurements. The instrument culminates decades of experience in Testo assisting Australian gas analysis technicians in one contemporary, smart-touch offering. It's capable of measuring factors such as:

  • Ambient flue gas levels.
  • Draught and pressure.
  • Differential temperature.

The intricate sensor can record CO data up 4,000 ppm, and the fast probe change system makes it simple to switch between different gas parameters in the same reading.

The truth of CO is that it's a preventable threat that can be combated with better flue gas testing. Testo is committed to supporting technicians all the way on the road to more comprehensive gas analysis, so why not find out what other features the testo 300 flue gas analyser has to offer?

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