Boilers and carbon monoxide poisoning – safety tips sadsad

Boilers can produce carbon monoxide (CO) if they are not properly installed, maintained, or vented. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, and tasteless gas that is toxic and can be deadly if inhaled in high concentrations. CO is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, or coal are burned incompletely, due to insufficient oxygen supply or incomplete combustion.

Boilers and Carbon Monoxide

Boilers can produce CO if the burners are not adjusted properly or if the heat exchanger is cracked/ damaged. This can allow combustion gases to escape into the living space. This is why it is important to have your boiler inspected and maintained by a qualified professional on a regular basis. Additionally, it is important to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home and workplace to alert you if there are dangerous levels of CO present.

In Australian household environments, the leading cause of carbon monoxide poisoning is old, faulty gas heaters. Most Australian households do not use indoor boilers for room heating, instead opting for ducted heating or gas heating systems for climate control. However, boilers are common for hot water systems; but are usually placed outdoors to improve ventilation. Additionally, many workplaces use industrial-grade steam boilers due to their large rapid heating capacity. These require regular maintenance by a boiler installation professional. 

Carbon Monoxide in the workplace

SafeWork NSW notes the most risk industries for workplace carbon monoxide poisoning at work are ones that involve the ‘burning of compounds containing carbon’ whilst working in an ‘enclosed or restricted space.’ These industries include: ‘cooks, blast furnace and boiler room workers, diesel engine operators, garage mechanics, brewery workers, pulp and paper workers, firefighters, glass manufacturers and coal miners.” Workers in these industries should remain alert and ensure all work safe practices are being followed to prevent hazards.

Why is carbon monoxide dangerous?

The colourless and odourless characteristics of carbon monoxide make it difficult to detect without special monitoring equipment, increasing the danger profile of the gas. Often people don’t realise that they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning until the onset of symptoms has occurred.

Carbon monoxide binds to haemoglobin in the bloodstream, reducing the amount of oxygen that can be transported to the body’s tissues. Even low levels of CO can cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and weakness. In higher concentrations, CO can cause unconsciousness, brain damage, and even death.

CO is a serious health hazard, and it is important to take steps to prevent exposure. This includes properly maintaining fuel-burning appliances, ensuring proper ventilation in enclosed spaces, and installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home or workplace.

How to protect against carbon monoxide

To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, it is important to take the following steps:

  • Have your boiler inspected and maintained regularly by a qualified professional. This includes checking the ventilation system, heat exchanger, and burner to ensure they are working properly.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and workplace. This will alert you if there are dangerous levels of CO present.
  • Ensure proper ventilation in the boiler room if it is located indoors. Keep vents clear of debris and maintain strong ventilation.
  • Never use a gas stove, oven, or grill to heat your home, and never use a portable generator inside your home or garage.
  • If you suspect that you or someone else may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning; leave the property, take steps to ventilate the area by opening doors and windows if possible, and seek medical attention immediately. Call emergency services (000) in Australia.

Other sources of Carbon Monoxide within the home

Carbon monoxide poisoning most commonly occurs from faulty and leaky gas appliances, heaters, power generators and barbecues. In Australia, LPG appliances and heaters add a pungent chemical called Ethyl Mercaptan to ensure users can distinctly smell leaking gas. This is because LPG is naturally odourless. However, CO does not include this chemical addition. Carbon monoxide leaks can be impossible to detect within a home without a detection system or the onset of symptoms.

Maintenance, installation, and repair of boilers:

To protect your household and workplace from carbon monoxide poisoning, it is essential to have any boilers installed and maintained by a qualified industry professional. At Tomlinson Energy, we offer 24/7 boiler and gas burner maintenance and repair services. Maintain a safe work and living environment, access to heat and efficient workplace operation.

When you need boiler expertise, call us at your state-specific telephone number or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you.

Common Steam Distribution Problems in Steam Boilers and How to Fix Them sadsad

What is steam distribution in steam boilers?

Steam distribution refers to the process of delivering steam from the steam boilers to the various points of use in a system. In a typical steam boiler system, steam is generated in the boiler and then flows through a network of pipes to the points where it is needed, such as heating systems, process equipment, or turbines. Steam distribution systems can be of various sizes. Individual household systems may connect the boiler to a few key rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom, meanwhile, industrial-grade boilers can include far more advanced systems to provide steam throughout hundreds of rooms around a facility, such as a hospital, restaurant complex or factory.

The steam distribution system is an essential component of the overall steam system, and it is critical that steam is distributed evenly and efficiently to ensure maximum energy efficiency and maintenance of the desired steam pressure and temperature throughout the system.

A well-designed steam distribution system should consider factors such as the size and layout of the facility, the steam load variability requirements, and the operating conditions of the equipment being served. Proper pipe sizing, insulation, and valve selection are all critical components of a well-functioning steam distribution system.

However, steam distribution can be prone to several problems, which can compromise the performance of steam boilers.

Condensate build-up

Condensate build-up refers to the accumulation of liquid condensate in a steam boiler system. When the steam comes into contact with colder surfaces, it can condense back into the water, releasing heat in the process and reducing operative efficiency. Condensate can accumulate in low points of steam pipes, causing reduced steam flow and potential blockages. This can result in poor heat transfer, increased energy consumption, and decreased boiler efficiency.

Steam leakage

Steam leakage is another common steam distribution problem that can lead to a loss of energy and reduced boiler efficiency. Steam leakage can occur due to faulty steam valves, damaged steam pipes, or improper installation of steam distribution systems.

Uneven steam distribution

Uneven steam distribution can be caused by several factors, such as blockages or obstructions in the steam pipes, improperly sized pipes, or incorrect valve settings. The result is that some areas of the boiler or steam system will receive more steam than they need, while others will receive less. This can lead to inefficient operation, reduced steam quality and performance, increased wear and tear on the system, and potential safety hazards.

To fix this problem, the source must be identified. This may involve checking the steam pipes for blockages or damage, reviewing the pipe sizing and valve settings, and evaluating the overall steam system design. Once the source of the problem is identified, solutions may include adjusting valve settings, replacing damaged or undersized pipes, or installing additional piping to balance steam distribution.

Water hammer

Water hammer is a term used to describe a phenomenon that occurs when a sudden pressure change causes a rapid movement of fluid, creating a loud banging or hammering sound. In a steam system, water hammer occurs when steam and condensate are flowing in the same pipe, and a valve is suddenly closed, causing the momentum of the fluid to create a pressure surge that can cause pipes to vibrate, bang or even rupture. Incorrect valve sizing improperly installed steam traps, or incorrect system design can all lead to water hammering.


Corrosion is a common problem in steam distribution systems that can result in reduced boiler efficiency and increased energy consumption. This problem can occur from exposure to moisture, high temperatures, and chemical reactions. Corrosion-resistant materials should be used in steam boilers and distribution systems to avoid this issue occurring.

How to fix these steam boiler issues? 

The best way to fix most of these issues is by regular steam boiler and distribution system maintenance checks. Regular check-ups, cleaning of pipes, and installation and maintenance of steam traps are all essential parts of ensuring an optimally operating steam distribution system. Regular inspections can also help identify and prevent any leaks, blockages, or damage that has occurred to the pipe system, alongside any improperly installed infrastructure. Further solutions may involve adjusting valve settings and replacing incorrectly sized or faulty pipes.

Inefficient steam distribution can lead to exaggerated steam boiler operation costs. While it may seem expensive to fix the issue, the cost of inefficiency over time may balloon to be much greater if not resolved early.

Does your business need steam boiler experts?

Look no further than Tomlinson Energy Service. We maintain, repair, and install boilers whilst providing specialised and professional customer service. We are proud to offer you over 100 years of engineering and service expertise. In addition, as a member of the Environmental Group Limited (EGL), we are proudly committed to the preservation and protection of the environment.

When you need boiler expertise, call us at your state-specific telephone number or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you.