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Topic Title: Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters
Topic Summary: How?
Created On: 20 October 2005 11:29 PM
Status: Read Only
Linear : Threading : Single : Branch
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - sparkingchip - 20 October 2005 11:29 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Jimoldham - 21 October 2005 12:33 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - deleted_rcd2 - 21 October 2005 12:42 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Jimoldham - 21 October 2005 01:02 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - normcall - 21 October 2005 08:25 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - John Peckham - 21 October 2005 09:08 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - normcall - 21 October 2005 11:17 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - gel - 21 October 2005 10:00 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - ebee - 21 October 2005 10:05 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - gel - 21 October 2005 10:31 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - deleted_CandG2330Student - 22 October 2005 01:18 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - ebee - 22 October 2005 08:08 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - gel - 22 October 2005 10:26 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Jimoldham - 22 October 2005 08:43 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - iselinger - 22 October 2005 10:31 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - mapj1 - 24 October 2005 02:33 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Arnot - 25 October 2005 09:27 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - AlanKay - 27 October 2005 09:50 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - John Peckham - 27 October 2005 12:43 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Pactrol - 27 October 2005 02:52 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - John Peckham - 27 October 2005 03:30 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - AlanKay - 27 October 2005 06:06 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Pactrol - 27 October 2005 06:52 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - AlanKay - 27 October 2005 10:28 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - JackRarebit - 28 October 2005 08:15 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - gel - 29 October 2005 08:13 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Jimoldham - 29 October 2005 08:50 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Jimoldham - 01 November 2005 12:09 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - AlanKay - 01 November 2005 08:29 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - gel - 01 November 2005 09:24 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - AlanKay - 15 December 2005 03:36 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - mapj1 - 15 December 2005 05:02 PM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - Jimoldham - 16 December 2005 01:27 AM  
 Carbon monoxide poisoning electric storage heaters   - gel - 16 December 2005 08:20 AM  
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 20 October 2005 11:29 PM
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sparkingchip

Posts: 11682
Joined: 18 January 2003

I have just read the posting about Gas applainces and fitting extractors, it reminded me of this:

Several years ago someone died of Carbon Monoxide poisioning due to a faultly ELECTRIC STORAGE HEATER, the Electrician who was involved with working on it was taken to court, but the prosecution failed and he was found not guilty of causing the death, because no one was aware that Electric storage heaters could develop a fault leading to the production of Carbon Monoxide.

But the Judge then stated that under the Law if it happened again then the Electrician and or others could be prosecuted, because as a result of this death and court case those involved with the fitting and maintaince of Electric storage heaters should know about it and could not claim ignorance of the matter.

My problem is no where did I ever see or hear how the carbon monoxide was produced, can anyone out ther enlighten me.
I must admit I haven't touched a Storage heater in the last couple of years as they seem to be go out of use, how everit won't hurt to know.

Andy.
 21 October 2005 12:33 AM
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Jimoldham

Posts: 1754
Joined: 29 November 2004

The saying Is:

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

by proving Precedence then the case for prosecution could hang on that whether it was correct or not unless proved otherwise.

In the real world. electrical Heating can not by default cause carbon monoxide posioning in any way shape or form if used correctly.

-------------------------
Regards

Jim Oldham
 21 October 2005 12:42 AM
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deleted_rcd2

Posts: 134
Joined: 21 September 2005

Would have thought the manufacturers had some responsibility to enlighten us if this is the case. I have to say I have never heard of this one but it does make you think, especially with winter just about to creep around the corner. Regards Alan
 21 October 2005 01:02 AM
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Jimoldham

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I give in on this one?

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Jim Oldham
 21 October 2005 08:25 AM
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normcall

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Ozone (O3 - I think) is not Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

-------------------------
Norman
 21 October 2005 09:08 AM
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John Peckham

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Speaking as a former CORGI man I do remeber from my training that when natural gas is burned completely the products of combustion are Carbon Dioxide ( CO2) and water vapour (H2O). A correctly burning apliance will have a nice blue flame.You only get completre combustion if there is sufficent oxygen for the amount of fuel usually with a small excess for safety. If there is insuffiecent oxygen carbon monoxide (CO) and cabon (C) is generated.

This is usually due to insuffiecent ventilation or poor fluing causing visciation. This is where the flue gases cool, and instead of rising, descend down on to the flame depriving it of oxygen. This condition is evident with blackening around the appliance and flue (the carbon) and spillage of products of combustion including carbon monoxide in to the room. The appliance will burn will a wobly yellow flame.Whilst carbon dioxide, which will not support life (appart from plants), and water vapour generated by complete combustion are non toxic carbon monoxide is higly toxic and will cause nausia, sleepynes and eventually death as the blood becomes saturated with the gas.

Electric storage heaters are not directly burning fuel by combustion so they should not produce any products of combustion. I supose if they were full of fluf and lint through lack of cleaning the heating element may might cause this fluf to to smoulder generating very small amounts of CO.

Is this story true is is it one of those urban miths or folk law.

John Peckham

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 21 October 2005 11:17 AM
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normcall

Posts: 8550
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Isn't she up yet? It's many years since I had anything to do with chemistry, so I was hoping for a better answer than the pair of us guessing.
Anyway, don't NSH work mainly at night when we should all be in bed.

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Norman
 21 October 2005 10:00 PM
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gel

Posts: 296
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This is HSE report:

HSE is keen to make electricians and engineers aware of the possibility of electric storage heaters being the source of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This follows the tragic death of a Scarborough tenant who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. An electrician who had carried out work on the heater a few days prior to the fatality was prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter. The judge ruled that there was no case to answer on the grounds that the mechanism by which the CO was generated could not have been foreseen by the electrician.

Speaking of the case, Michael Stephenson, Principal Specialist Inspector (Electrical) HSE Yorkshire and North East said: "In most domestic cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that HSE investigates, the CO is produced by an incorrectly installed or maintained gas appliance. In this case, there were no gas appliances and not even a gas supply to the flats. The police requested HSE's assistance to determine the source of the CO."

Subsequent investigation revealed that an electric storage heater with a cast-iron core was the source of the killer gas.

Mr Stephenson continued: "There was evidence that a ducted air electric storage heater had overheated and reached excessively high temperatures resulting in a very rare case of CO poisoning from an electric appliance. Electricians must be aware of the potential for this to occur."

Mr Stephenson stressed: "Anyone working on electric storage heaters with cast-iron cores should be aware of the mechanism by which CO may be generated in sufficient quantities to cause death. This tragic event should serve to remind everyone of the possible consequences of shorting out or by-passing safety devices."

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Gel__Big Brother is here
 21 October 2005 10:05 PM
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ebee

Posts: 6735
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quote:

Originally posted by: gel
This is HSE report:

HSE is keen to make electricians and engineers aware of the possibility of electric storage heaters being the source of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. This follows the tragic death of a Scarborough tenant who died of carbon monoxide poisoning. An electrician who had carried out work on the heater a few days prior to the fatality was prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter. The judge ruled that there was no case to answer on the grounds that the mechanism by which the CO was generated could not have been foreseen by the electrician.

Speaking of the case, Michael Stephenson, Principal Specialist Inspector (Electrical) HSE Yorkshire and North East said: "In most domestic cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that HSE investigates, the CO is produced by an incorrectly installed or maintained gas appliance. In this case, there were no gas appliances and not even a gas supply to the flats. The police requested HSE's assistance to determine the source of the CO."

Subsequent investigation revealed that an electric storage heater with a cast-iron core was the source of the killer gas.

Mr Stephenson continued: "There was evidence that a ducted air electric storage heater had overheated and reached excessively high temperatures resulting in a very rare case of CO poisoning from an electric appliance. Electricians must be aware of the potential for this to occur."

Mr Stephenson stressed: "Anyone working on electric storage heaters with cast-iron cores should be aware of the mechanism by which CO may be generated in sufficient quantities to cause death. This tragic event should serve to remind everyone of the possible consequences of shorting out or by-passing safety devices."



Yes I remember that. Forgot the exact sequence of events but CO2 can be produced by Iron Storage heaters, not just gas appliances. Strange world innit?


-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 21 October 2005 10:31 PM
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gel

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.CO

CO not CO2 = carbon monoxide by the way.

-------------------------
Gel__Big Brother is here
 22 October 2005 01:18 PM
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deleted_CandG2330Student

Posts: 28
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So are we saying from that report the electrician had shorted out the over temp trip, presumably because it had fired due to the normal temperature setting thermostat being welded shut or mechanically damaged or jammed.

If he wasn’t going to kill the tenant by this rare CO incident, he was probably going to burn the place down while he was asleep in bed.

Graham
 22 October 2005 08:08 PM
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ebee

Posts: 6735
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quote:

Originally posted by: gel
.CO

CO not CO2 = carbon monoxide by the way.


Sorry I stand corrected CO it is not CO2 (tired)



-------------------------
Regards,
Ebee (M I S P N)

Knotted cables cause Lumpy Lektrik
 22 October 2005 10:26 PM
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gel

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Joined: 13 February 2005

June 2001Date

See

http://baldwin.butterworths.co...asp?id=10717&tid=7

-------------------------
Gel__Big Brother is here
 22 October 2005 08:43 PM
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Jimoldham

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after exhaustive research on the HSE web site i can't find anything about this subject.

questions

How long ago did this occur?

Where did it say the electrician shorted out any over temp trip?

-------------------------
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Jim Oldham
 22 October 2005 10:31 PM
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iselinger

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I see what the H&S report said but totally fail to understand the method by which the Cast Iron core (or anynother type of core for that matter) of an electric storage radiator can generate a significant quantity of CO.

Even if it did manage to produce some the quantity would be so small it would be unlikely to be any health threat. Unlike CO2 which is heavier than air and sinks, therefore death would actually be by drowning CO is actually 3% lighter than air and would therfore diffuse and be diluted by the the room air. Concentration would be very low.

My suspicion is that it was the high temperature induced chemical breakdown of some sort of insulation or heater construction material rather than "electricity" or the "Cast Iron" itself!

Does anyone really know?

Mr Stephenson care to respond? Has anyone got his email address?



Edited: 22 October 2005 at 10:54 PM by iselinger
 24 October 2005 02:33 PM
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mapj1

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New one on me too, but our site chemist has this thought. If as it appears the device was allowed to grossly overheat, and inside the air supply is limited, then a partial combustion of any surface treatment on the core or other innards could perhaps, at a push, have produced enough toxic fumes, including CO, to casue a fatality if in a small room. However, in practice, burning wiring insulation in an unventilated space is equally dissapointing, and more common. Our bet is on some sort of paint, or anti-rusting laquer, dissociating at a much higher temperature than it should have ever reached, and outgassing. Presumably the poor victim either had no sense of smell, or was asleep when it overheated, as it must have stunk.
Very unlucky, and irresponsible of the sparks to bypass the last ditch overheat trip (after all that is why it is there.)
regards M.

-------------------------
regards Mike
 25 October 2005 09:27 AM
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Arnot

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Could it have had anything to do with the mineral fibre insulation I have seem used in some storage heaters?

Regards

Arnot
 27 October 2005 09:50 AM
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AlanKay

Posts: 240
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We were taught as part of our A-Level chemistry course, that Emile Zola was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.
In his case, the death was not due to a blocked stove chimney, as is often stated. Rather, it was due to the unusual property of high temperature cast iron to become porous to carbon monoxide. Zola's room was heated by a cast-iron stove, stoked to a very high temperature because of cold weather. The incomplete combustion product, carbon monoxide, was able to diffuse through the stove walls into the room, so causing Zola's death by poisoning.

Returning to the case in point though, and having described how red-hot cast-iron might permit passage of CO, I still see no obvious source of the gas. There must have been some part-combustion going on, but of what? Was the cast-iron core filled with timber? -seems unlikely to me. In light of the fact that all electricians are now "on notice" that the next occurrence will prompt a manslaughter charge, I think we should be told !

Alan

-------------------------
Alan Kay, CEng MIEE
 27 October 2005 12:43 PM
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John Peckham

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In your first example the fuel not the stove generated the CO. As with gas solid fuel stoves need sufficent oxygen for complete combustion. Solid fuel stoves never completely combust the fuel and generate CO as a product of combustion. Solid fuel stoves are open flued devices and require an efficent flue to prevent spillage in to the room. In addition to the efficent flue
there must be ample ventilation of the room to supply the stove with oxygen.

I have a floor standing cast iron balanced flue gas boiler. The cast iron is heated by the combustion and the cast iron is exposed to the room. I don't believe heating cast iron liberates CO even though it is rich in carbon. There are plenty of cast iron boilers, cookers (Agas) and radiators around which do not cause this problem.

There must have been something burning slowly in this storage heater to generate the CO. I wonder if it was the insulating material or paint becomming overheated?

Regards

John Peckham

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 27 October 2005 02:52 PM
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Pactrol

Posts: 860
Joined: 22 February 2004


Hi
while we have all this exspert knowledge available maybe someone can help me with a little problem Im having with a bain marie food warming trolly
problem is it keeps overheating & melting the fusible thermal link which goes at 120 deg C this has me at a loss as the thermostat cuts of at 93 deg C + 0r - 5 deg & before you ask yes I have replaced the stat & checked the heating element for any shorts or insulation breakdown earth faults etc its sound.

your thoughts gentlemem please. Im running out of thermal fuses.


Pactrol against part with yer money pee scam
 27 October 2005 03:30 PM
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John Peckham

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Have you measured the temprature with a probe and digital thermometer outside the unit with all the doors closed. I have experienced boilers with control and high limit stats. If the control stat is set to high it will cfut out at the set temprature but the mass of the metalwork will store heat close to the heat source and the overall temprature will continue to rise and operate the high limit stat.

I bet your control stat is cutting the supply to the element and it is continuing to radiate heat operating your thermal fuse. If the stat is not adjustable is it correctly located? Have any vent holes or slots been blocked? Has the trolley had any modifications?
Has an oversize heating element been fitted? Is the stat in circuit to control the element?

Regards

John Peckham

-------------------------
John Peckham

http://www.astutetechnicalservices.co.uk/
 27 October 2005 06:06 PM
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AlanKay

Posts: 240
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As long as the Bain Marie has some "eau" in it, and assuming it is open to the air - not a pressure cooker - the bath temperature can never get above 100 degrees C. Maybe the thermal fuse should be relocated closer to the business-end, where it would be "cooled" by the evaporating water?

-------------------------
Alan Kay, CEng MIEE
 27 October 2005 06:52 PM
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Pactrol

Posts: 860
Joined: 22 February 2004

Hi

thanks for your input unfortunately the fault never occurs while Im present what I can.t figure out is how it can exceed 100 deg c while its full of water albeit the control stat & thermal fuse are mounted on a hinged panel infront of the water troughs I havent actually measured the temperature But as everything appears to be to manufactures spec I exspected the new stat to resolve the problem , unless its being left to boil dry the stat is normally submerged so how do I detect if this is the case as no one is going to admit to it & theres always water in it when I arrive,


Pactrol against part with yer money pee scam

Edited: 27 October 2005 at 06:54 PM by Pactrol
 27 October 2005 10:28 PM
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AlanKay

Posts: 240
Joined: 09 July 2002

Pactrol,

from RS and I'm sure others, you can buy adhesive temperature sensitive labels. They're available in different temperature ranges and in irreversible mode. That means they permanently change at each increase in temperature, thus showing the maximum reached. Can you stick one of these somewhere unobtrusive on the outside of the water container, but inside the unit casing? Look at RS part number 285-942 for an example.

HTH

Alan

-------------------------
Alan Kay, CEng MIEE
 28 October 2005 08:15 AM
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JackRarebit

Posts: 276
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I've a fair idea on how this could have happened ...

Cast iron is porous and contains carbon in good quantities, hence its crystalline structure and brittle nature when compared to mild steel. When heated to great temperatures in he presence of air I dare say it could allow the oxygen to diffuse in, and the carbon monoxide to difuse out. I don't think ozone is involved as it would require very high temperatures to form (as stated, arcs do well) and these would have been noticed if they'd been active enough to make enough ozone to form sufficient CO to kill.

That said, CO is lethal in very small concentrations, and has no colour, odour or taste - it's realy a very dangerous toxin, as anyone with gas fitting experience will attest (300 parts per million )

http://ptcl.chem.ox.ac.uk/MSDS/CA/carbon_monoxide.html
 29 October 2005 08:13 PM
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gel

Posts: 296
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Thanks for updates.
Yes it is very dangerous/lethal.
Unfortunately there were deaths from CO in S Wales last week.
A 5 year old staying with his Grandparents over 1/2 term was killed and his Grandparents.

It seems was a sold fuel appliance of some sort; not certain of fuel; being S Wales
Coal may seem likely..
CO is lethal.
See links

Electronic Alarms are around £30 or less/forget those CO Detector patches

Triple Deaths from CO

&
Co Family Tragedy

-------------------------
Gel__Big Brother is here

Edited: 29 October 2005 at 08:15 PM by gel
 29 October 2005 08:50 PM
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Jimoldham

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I think that i would like a definitive answer to this rather than just to be put on notice. We need official advice not just here say.

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Jim Oldham
 01 November 2005 12:09 AM
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Jimoldham

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Again i will ask HOW on this subject

-------------------------
Regards

Jim Oldham
 01 November 2005 08:29 AM
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AlanKay

Posts: 240
Joined: 09 July 2002

I think only one man has the answer, Michael Stephenson, Principal Specialist Inspector (Electrical) HSE Yorkshire and North East. 'Twas he who stated,
"In most domestic cases of carbon monoxide poisoning that HSE investigates, the CO is produced by an incorrectly installed or maintained gas appliance. In this case, there were no gas appliances and not even a gas supply to the flats. The police requested HSE's assistance to determine the source of the CO."

Anyone have contact details for this man or his department?

Alan

-------------------------
Alan Kay, CEng MIEE
 01 November 2005 09:24 PM
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gel

Posts: 296
Joined: 13 February 2005

Try
michael.stephenson@hse.gsi.gov.uk

-------------------------
Gel__Big Brother is here
 15 December 2005 03:36 PM
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AlanKay

Posts: 240
Joined: 09 July 2002

Remember this?
I finally got to the bottom of it, thanks to documentation sent to me from the Health and Safety Executive under the freedom of information act. Copyright and discretion prevents me from providing verbatim extracts from the very comprehensive information I received, but here is my precis.

This was a 10kW storage heater (made up of nine heating elements - selectable for heat demand), with both off-peak and continuous mains supplies connected.
Cast iron core temperature was controlled at 660 degs C by thermostat, in series with;
a safety thermal trip (manual reset), set to 740 degs C.
A final safety feature was three thermal fuses, each controlling a section of the heater bank. These fuses were located in the outer casing of the heater and would have opened at 202 degs C.

Failure mode was;
Thermostat AND thermal trip had both failed closed (ON). That is assumed to have caused an overheat situation which had opened all three thermal fuses and rendered the heating inoperable.
The repair in question had been completed by shorting out the three thermal fuses with fusewire.
Following that repair, the heater was put back into service.
Unknown at the time was the fact that the off-peak timeswitch had an intermittent fault whereby instead of providing power for just seven hours overnight, it occasionally stayed powered for over 79 hours.
All the above elements combined to keep full power on the heater bank in all probability for over 79 hours .
That caused the cast iron heater core to reach a temperature in excess of 1100 degress C. So hot that the core had melted in places. HSE scientists advise that at these elevated temperatures, the carbon composition in cast iron can part oxidise to create carbon monoxide. They estimated that up to 600g of carbon had been lost from the core in that way. (About ten times the amount needed to create a lethal concentration of CO in the flat.)

As CandG2330Student suggested much earlier in this thread, "If [he] wasn’t going to kill the tenant by this rare CO incident, [he] was probably going to burn the place down while he was asleep in bed."

I'm pleased I got to the bottom of this. In the end though, and I will quote this line from the official report, "This tragic event should serve to remind everyone of the possible consequences of shorting out or by-passing safety devices".

Alan


-------------------------
Alan Kay, CEng MIEE

Edited: 15 December 2005 at 03:38 PM by AlanKay
 15 December 2005 05:02 PM
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mapj1

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Thankyou for reporting this - it had many of us intruiged.
Fascinating, and sobering, to think it must have been glowing white hot and dripping liquid metal in there, and the users were blissfully unaware. A truly tragic combination of failures of multiple safety devices, compounded by reckless abandon in bypassing the last ditch protection.
Luckily, I think we can assume this is jolly rare, and most unlikely to happen again to anyone with a bit of nouse.
regards Mike


-------------------------
regards Mike
 16 December 2005 01:27 AM
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Jimoldham

Posts: 1754
Joined: 29 November 2004

Thank you for coming back to us with a concise report on this matter. i think this is definatley one for wiring matters and proffesional electrician magazine. we need to publish this to all and sundrey.

-------------------------
Regards

Jim Oldham
 16 December 2005 08:20 AM
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gel

Posts: 296
Joined: 13 February 2005

And of course installing hard wired CO alarms is a new area of opportunity for us, CO not being the domain
of just heating installers as we now see.

-------------------------
Gel__Big Brother is here
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