• Plumbing & Heating
  • Bathroom Installation
  • Property Renovations & Repairs

Can a Broken Boiler Make You Ill?


At the best of times, a broken boiler can be little more than a nuisance. In more serious cases, however, it could pose a very real risk to your health.

A malfunctioning gas boiler can lead to severe health problems, and even fatalities, by causing carbon monoxide poisoning. This is why it’s so important to get your boiler looked at if you notice any changes in how it’s running.

M J Burt are among Bournemouth and Poole’s top heating specialists. In this article, we explain the dangers of carbon monoxide, how to tell if your boiler is faulty, and what you should do if a carbon monoxide leak occurs.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless gas that can be produced by fuel-burning appliances. It can seriously affect the health of anyone who breathes it in – in the UK, it accounts for around 150+ deaths and thousands of hospitalisations every year.

Carbon monoxide can leak from a variety of household appliances, particularly if they are not installed or maintained correctly.

Some appliances that can produce carbon monoxide include:

  • Gas boilers
  • Gas/paraffin heaters
  • Wood/gas/coal fires
  • Generators

What Are the Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

All homeowners with a gas boiler should familiarise themselves with the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms often come on quickly and can cause serious health problems, fast.

These are some of the most common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Chest and muscle pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling or being sick

Low level carbon monoxide poisoning can also lead to mood swings and depression.

According to the NHS, carbon monoxide symptoms may come and go. Going outside may ease symptoms, whilst spending time indoors near the leak may make them worse.

When Should I Get My Boiler Checked?

Any sign that your boiler is acting unusually, even if it isn’t featured in the list below, should be taken seriously. A boiler that has left you without heating and hot water is not the only sign of a malfunctioning boiler.

You should call out an engineer immediately to report any boiler faults. A broken boiler could be leaking carbon monoxide, but even if it isn’t, it shouldn’t be left malfunctioning. Leaving a faulty boiler could result in leaks further down the line, or other serious (and potentially costly) problems.

Here are 5 warning signs that your boiler isn’t running as it should:

1. Smell of Fumes

If you can smell fumes or gas in your home, and none of the hobs have been left on by accident, your boiler could be leaking. If you notice the smell getting stronger when you are closer to the boiler, it’s likely there’s a leak in the pipework.

2. Signs of Scorching

Scorch marks on the wall around your boiler are a big indication that it’s not running as it should. This is also true if scorch marks appear on the casing of the boiler itself. Scorching indicates that an element of the boiler is overheating.

3. Failing to Maintain a Steady Temperature

Low boiler pressure and an inability to maintain a steady temperature can be caused by leaks or blockages inside the boiler.

4. Noises (Humming, Whining, Tapping, Etc.)

Boilers should operate silently. Noises are often caused by worn or loose parts, vibrating fans or defective components.

5. Problems with the Pilot Light

If the pilot light won’t stay lit or is an orange or yellow colour (instead of blue), this indicates problems within the boiler and with the gas supply.

Think Your Boiler is Leaking Carbon Monoxide?

If you suspect your boiler is leaking carbon monoxide, you should open all your doors and windows, turn off the boiler, shut off your gas supply, and get everyone out of the property. You should then call the free 24/7 National Gas Emergency Services Line on 0800 111 999.

When switched off, a boiler can’t produce carbon monoxide because it is not burning fuel. Turning off the boiler and shutting off your gas supply is the best way to protect your home and family until an emergency engineer can arrive.

When to Call a Professional

If you notice any problems with the way your boiler is running, you should call an engineer for advice and to get the boiler looked at.

Boilers should also be serviced at least once a year, to help catch problems early and prevent faults becoming more serious.

At M J Burt we are always on hand to help with emergency boiler repairs and servicing – our team of experienced engineers are Gas Safe™ registered and will be with you as soon as possible. Give us a call on 07766 894833.

If you’d like to find out more about our general boiler repair and installation services, please get in touch.

Google Rating
Based on +10 reviews