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I just moved into a new house where the 10 year old boiler is located in the bedroom where my 3 year old daughter sleeps.

I'd like to get an idea of how safe/dangerous this situation is. Could the boiler explode? Could it create a fire in the house? What about a gas leak?

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Gas boiler or electric? Gas ones carry a carbon monoxide risk. –  pjc50 Sep 10 '13 at 9:08
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You can buy fire / smoke alarms, gas alarms, and carbon monoxide alarms - the boiler can cause all of these things. If it was my daughter, I'd have all of those things.Are there building regulations in your country about location of gas appliances? If in doubt, get a registered & qualified professional to inspect & service it. –  John U Sep 10 '13 at 9:12
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Before you moved in, hadn't you considered this situation or is the daughter a new addition to the family (and of so congratulations)? –  Andy aka Sep 10 '13 at 9:40
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If you were in the US, I think it would be a code violation. I don't think combustion air can come from habitable space, but I could be wrong. –  Tester101 Sep 12 '13 at 13:53
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Having a 3 year old myself, I would be more worried about her messing with it than a leak or fire. A 3 yo fiddling with something covered in knobs and dials and faucets is a lot more certain than the device malfunctioning. –  JNK Sep 16 '13 at 19:06

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you're in the UK, "boiler" usually implies what would be called "furnace" in the US, and tends to imply a gas appliance bristling with safety cutoffs.

Assuming so...

Have it serviced by a competent tradesman (CORGI registered) and don't worry about fire or explosion - it is a water heater not a "boiler" in the high pressure steam sense. HOWEVER make sure the tradesman pays attention to the flue arrangement : if that is incorrect, faulty, or improperly maintained there is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning overnight. (It has no smell so there is no warning) Installing a carbon monoxide monitor is probably a good idea too.

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Gas leak

A gas leak could be deadly not only due to inhalation, but also as an explosion hazard.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is an silent killer. It's colorless, odorless, tasteless, and can kill you before you know you're dead.

Combustion Air

If the home is sealed tightly, and a source of makeup air is not present (for example if the source is supposed to be the open door, but the door is closed) there could be a suffocation hazard. As the boiler burns fuel, it also uses up air (oxygen). If a sufficient source of new air is not available, the life supporting oxygen in the room could be used up.

Fire

Any time there is fire (or any heat source) in a home, there is always the potential for an uncontrolled fire. A fire starting so close to a sleeping child (or anybody for that matter), could likely be fatal.


I would not put my daughter in a room with a fuel burning appliance, or any appliance for that matter. Utility appliances belong in a utility room, not a bedroom.

NOTE: I wouldn't put my son in the room either, if I had one. I may put an in-law, or a house guest that's been around too long in there though.

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The note is priceless. :) –  JYelton Sep 12 '13 at 21:13
    
About explosion hazard, fire and suffocation hazard: it all sounds plausible, but did any of these ever happened in the past, say, 25 years, anywhere in the UK? –  drake035 Sep 20 '13 at 10:46
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@drake035 Not sure, but I do know that I wouldn't want my daughter to be the first. –  Tester101 Sep 20 '13 at 11:22
    
@drake035 - Your ethics in this situation seem wholly out of wack. –  mike Sep 28 '13 at 18:22
    
I disagree. If the probability of these accidents is comparable to, say, the probability of an airliner crashing into a bedroom, then the ethics of anybody who doesn't take protective measures against bedroom crash should be questioned as well isn't it? I mean, it's common sense to check how improbable something is before taking measures about it. If it's truly improbable, then it is perfectly normal to simply discard it. Children can get killed by a car in the street any time, should they all wear armors for protection against this? No, because it's too improbable to act upon it. –  drake035 Oct 4 '13 at 19:04

For rented or owned accomodation the HSE guidance is reasonably clear

Since 31 October 1998, any room converted to use as sleeping accommodation should not contain the following types of gas appliances:

  1. A gas fire, gas space heater or a gas water heater (including a gas boiler) over 14 kilowatts gross input unless it is room sealed.
  2. A gas fire, gas space heater, or a gas water heater (including a gas boiler) of 14 kilowatts gross input or less or any instantaneous water heater unless it is room sealed or has an atmosphere-sensing device.

If a room contains one or more of the above appliances and was used as a bedroom prior to 1998 then you will need to do a risk assessment to determine if it can still be used as a bedroom. If you are unsure of the safety of any gas appliance you should get a Gas Safe registered engineer to check it for you.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqlandlord.htm
http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqownerocc.htm

A "room sealed" boiler draws air in from the outside air through a balanced flue.


Each year there are around 50 deaths from accidental CO poisoning in England and Wales (ONS Statistics) and in excess of 200 non-fatal cases that require hospitalisation.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/cross-government-group-1011.pdf
http://www.co-gassafety.co.uk/deaths.html

I'd consider swapping the usage of the bedroom and whatever room you use for working at home.

I'd also get a quote for moving the boiler to a more conventional location.

At a minimum I'd 1. enclose the boiler in a way that meets regulations and which also prevents a child gaining access to the boiler. 2. fit at least one CO detector and check it weekly.

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