Are your gas heater and gas hot water systems ready for winter?

It’s nearly that time of year isn’t it? The evenings are getting darker again and the Ugg boots have been pulled on already … 

And while there is something magical about flicking the switch on the gas heater and feeling the almost instantaneous warmth flood the room, history has shown that it can also be inviting a silent killer (carbon monoxide poisoning) into your home.

But, such a situation is avoidable. It’s no different from your car in that, gas heaters and gas hot water systems need to be serviced at regular intervals too. But how do you know if your gas heater is faulty?

Here are 5 signs that can be indicators that all is not well:

  1. Is the outer casing discoloured or have ‘soot’ stains on it? If so, this could indicate that the flue (exhaust) is faulty.
  2. If the pilot light ‘pops’ or keeps going out, something is wrong.
  3. If the flame is visibly ‘yellow’ then there’s something probably not right.
  4. Are the outer surfaces of your gas heater hot? They shouldn’t be, something is wrong.
  5. Is there an odd or unusual smell? There shouldn’t be.

If you experience any of these things, or just have a gut feeling something is wrong with your gas heater or gas hot water system; turn it off immediately. It should be checked by a professional.

Why?

Two very good reasons … More than 40% of winter deaths in residential properties each year are caused by fires involving gas heaters. And the silent killer, carbon monoxide poisoning also, unfortunately, claims many lives around Australia each year.

And these are mostly avoidable issues.

Here are some simple tips to maintain a safe gas heater and gas hot water system

Certification

If you are looking to buy a gas heater then make sure it’s certified by the Australian Gas Association and displays the plates that indicated it meets the current emission standards. 

It’s not about buying the ‘best’ on the market, it’s about ensuring it’s appropriately certified. The same is true for your gas hot water system too – just because it sits outside don’t think it requires less diligence. The NSW Fair Trading Department has some advice about this. 

Service your gas heaters every year

Don’t fall into the trap of, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” … that would seem foolhardy in the event of a fire or worse …

However, with all the regulations out there it can be confusing to know what the regulations are, but, we think that anything linked to safety shouldn’t be a cost-cutting consideration. Again, the NSW Fair Trading Department recommends annual servicing for both gas heaters and gas hot water systems.

Note: If you’re a Landlord it’s wise to keep a written record of the service schedule of your gas heaters and gas hot water systems. Without being too dramatic, in the event of a fatality the coroner’s court WILL ask for your records to show due diligence on your part.

Hazards

It may seem obvious but gas heaters should NEVER have anything placed over them, especially clothes. Like a human, a gas heater needs to ‘breath’. It needs fresh air coming in and the ability to exhale properly. 

And make sure it can’t be easily knocked over by kids or pets. If a gas heater is knocked over the inlet or exhaust can become blocked and the intense heat could ignite the carpet or couch … 

There are things you can do … like, clean it

Most gas heaters have inbuilt filters that are designed to be super easy to remove and clean. It’s normally as simple as pulling them out, cleaning them with slightly soapy water, dry and return.

If you’re not sure how to do this either take a look on YouTube or, call a licensed gas fitter such as the Parrish team. The bottom line, if in doubt give us a shout! 

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