Back in September ber 2015, some research was done by West Sussex Trading Standards which revealed some alarming results.
They found that as many as 8 out of 10 Carbon Monoxide Detectors were faulty and did not meet British Standards tests.
This was not due to batteries that had run out of life. These were more serious problems of the CO alarms supposedly working but failing to detect gas. The report said that after a few years, around 45% of CO alarms were no longer able to detect the presence of harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
Shortly after this announcement, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force, meaning landlords are now legally required to install a fire alarms on every floor of their property and CO detectors in every room where there is a fuel-based appliance.
Despite these regulations, a new report funded by the EU and Product Safety Forum of Europe (PROSAFE) has found that 52% of 81 CO alarms tested posed a high or serious risk due to issues with their functionality.
25 of the alarms were tested in a laboratory with the following results:
- 3 working correctly
- 4 went off too early
- 18 not compliant with requirements
Of the original 81 detectors tested:
- 9 were given a ‘Serious Risk’ result in the risk assessment
- 15 were given a ‘High Risk’ result in the risk assessment
- 2 were ‘Medium Risk’
- 15 were ‘Low Risk’
- 7 were ‘No Risk’
- 36 not available
With so much effort going into raising awareness of the ‘silent killer’, the fact that CO alarms are proving to lack long-term durability and ceasing to perform their basic function is a very serious issue.
With an estimated 30 million CO alarms in the UK, there is a strong possibility that a high percentage of these are faulty and wrongly giving people the impression that carbon monoxide levels are safe.
Under the 2015 Smoke and CO Alarm regulations, not only are private sector landlords legally required to fit alarms, but they are also required to check them once a year to ensure they are fully functional. Failure to comply can lead to a fine of £5,000.
People are also being encouraged to test CO alarms themselves which can be done via a specially created test kit which tests the battery and the sensors.
In addition to testing your alarms, it’s also recommended that you have your gas appliances (e.g. your boiler) checked once per year by a registered Gas Safe professional to ensure that the components of your heating system are not leaking CO and are functioning correctly.
Article by Benjamin Clarke
• FOI request shows the seriousness of Carbon Monoxide poisoning 17th Mar 2016
• Being alert to the dangers of carbon monoxide 1st Dec 2015
• The quest to stop illegal gas fitters with the Gas Safe Register 15th Jan 2015