Car­bon monox­ide wor­ries

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts - TONY REPLIES… ROGER AND PAM MCLEL­LAN,

QBe­fore pur­chas­ing our 2004-built boat in 2015 we had a new Boat Safety Scheme cer­tifi­cate ex­am­i­na­tion done. We know the pre­vi­ous own­ers of our boat and it has al­ways been prop­erly main­tained. Up to now we have had had no con­cerns about the cooker: no smell or fumes and no sound­ing of the CO alarm, but last week­end we no­ticed a quite strong fume smell. We looked at the mon­i­tor read­ings, which were ris­ing up through the 20s to the 30s and up to 47 ppm (no alarm has yet sounded) and turned the hobs off. The CO read­ings are nor­mally at zero. The win­dow op­po­site the cooker had been open all the time. All of the hobs seem to have the same odour ef­fect. How­ever, us­ing the oven pro­duced no mon­i­tor read­ing is­sue and no fume odour.

The cylin­der is the same one in use when we took over the boat. It is a great deal lighter and it can’t be long be­fore we need to change to the sec­ond cylin­der. We sus­pect the an­swer is to get the cooker ser­viced. But can ‘old’ gas in a nearly empty cylin­der be a cause of this kind of prob­lem? We also have a gas-fired warm air heat­ing sys­tem on the boat, which last au­tumn worked seem­ingly well. Should we also have this ser­viced as a pre­cau­tion? Is there a Gas Safe ac­cred­i­ta­tion for LPG/ propane ap­pli­ance ser­vic­ing for boats?

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AThe stench­ing agent added to bot­tle gas can oc­ca­sion­ally set­tle out so it be­comes more con­cen­trated as the gas gets close to run­ning out, pro­duc­ing a smell when the gas is used – but I have no idea if it pro­duces more CO. As the oven does not do this, I sus­pect the high CO prob­a­bly wasn’t from the cooker (but the smell might be); Car­bon monox­ide doesn’t have any smell.

Check that none of the burn­ers have yel­low in the flames and that none of your pans de­velop soot on the bot­tom. My guess is that you may have been hav­ing CO blown into your boat from some­one else’s stove, gen­er­a­tor or en­gine ex­haust – more com­mon than peo­ple think, es­pe­cially in mari­nas and crowded moor­ings.

Gas Safe en­gi­neers need en­dorse­ments for bot­tle gas and marine work. Check the Gas Safe a web­site.

When well clear of other boats, try the other cylin­der: if the prob­lem does not re­cur, it was prob­a­bly CO be­ing blown in.

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