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risk gas heating

Heating poisoning, heating fire: the risks related to the various means of gas heating

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We have all heard about the energy sobriety plan where the government asks all French people to save our resources by heating buildings only to 19 degrees.

Even at 19°c, we must not forget that there are different ways to heat and that each one requires precautions. Indeed, the risks related to the various means of heating are present in many homes. The risks of heating poisoning or fire are the most frequent.


1. The different types of heating

1.1. The electric heating

chauffage électrique

Electrical heating, if it is recent, presents few risks. However, any obsolete or non-compliant electrical installation presents several risks:

- Risk of contact with a live metal part, resulting in an electric shock. Electrical accidents, although rare, are much more often fatal than any other type of accident on the list.

- There is a risk of overheating, short-circuiting, and arcing, which can ignite combustible materials, causing a fire or poisoning by the release of harmful combustion products.

To avoid these risks, several precautions should be taken:

  • Do not obstruct radiators: do not use them to dry clothes, for example.
  • Also be careful not to drop small objects into them, as they could melt, burn or even cause a fire.
  • Also be careful with dust before the cold season starts.

1.2. Underfloor heating

chauffage au sol

Electric floor heating (or underfloor heating) is a good solution to heat your home evenly. The principle is simple: a heating cable is spread over the entire surface of the house. However, you should know that when you use this type of electric heating, you are exposed to a constant electromagnetic field. Note, however, that a recent underfloor heating system, using modern technology, does not create a significant magnetic field.

> What are the risks associated with electromagnetic fields?

For underfloor heating, low frequency magnetic fields can occur during the heating phase.

It is difficult to know whether magnetic fields from underfloor heating systems pose a health risk. However, some studies indicate that even weak low-frequency magnetic fields may increase the risk of childhood leukemia.

1.3. Wood stoves and fireplaces

poêle à bois

For stoves and fireplaces, make sure that they are in good working order and that there is adequate ventilation. You should know that a chimney should be swept once a year. Indeed, in case of incident related to your chimney, your insurance will not compensate you if you have not done the mandatory annual sweeping.

It is very important to burn only dry wood in a stove or fireplace. Also, never use gas to start a fire. Moreover, do not throw anything into the fire! Stick to wood and paper only. Plastic objects, for example, even in minute quantities such as a paper clip left on a package of leaves, can produce very toxic fumes.

Heating with wood also involves the risk of carbon monoxide accumulation and therefore intoxication. It is essential to protect yourself from this with a CO detector.

1.4. Gas heating

risque chauffage gaz

The most important thing about gas heating is its annual maintenance by professionals. Ventilation is also important. In addition, flammable items should not be used or stored near the gas heater.

Gas odors from the heater should not usually occur when everything is working properly. Be aware of odours: if in doubt, turn off and ventilate! If the smell is very strong and persistent, evacuate and call emergency services.

Gas heating, like wood heating, carries the risk of carbon monoxide build-up.

L’importance des détecteurs

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential when it comes to heating safety. If your home has more than one floor, you should install one on each level.

Investing in a carbon monoxide detector is a very good idea, especially if you have one of the above devices.

2. Risks related to heating

The main risk is related to gas heating. The main gas heating risk is generally that of heating poisoning. The emanation of toxic gases is a major risk, since it is potentially fatal for humans.

2.1. The fires

incendie bâtiment

Heating devices mean heat, and heat or fire means the possibility of fire. This main danger linked to the use of heating systems is especially high for appliances that use wood, pellets or gas.

As an illustration, here are two cases that occur quite frequently:

1. For electric heaters or auxiliary appliances, this can occur by obstructing the electric baseboards. Small objects in contact with these walls could melt, burn, and if you are unlucky enough, cause a fire.

2. As for gas heating, the risk of gas heating is important: gas leaks occur much more frequently than one might imagine, so you should not skimp on its maintenance. Not to mention that it only takes one flammable item near this heater to cause a real disaster.

2.2. The emanation of toxic gases

During combustion, carbon dioxide is produced. In general, this gas is carbon dioxide. However, when combustion does not take place normally or when there is a malfunction in the system, an accumulation of carbon monoxide occurs.

Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous gas for humans. An exposure of a few minutes leads to serious intoxication and quite distressing consequences. Electric heating systems are the only ones that do not present this danger of heating poisoning.

2.3. Problems caused by the presence of air

présence d'air

In a heating system, the presence of air causes many problems and discomfort for the user. It is generally recommended to remove air from the heating system at least 3 times: at the beginning, during and at the end of the heating season, in order to avoid situations such as

  • the formation of noises ;
  • corrosion and erosion;
  • over-consumption of energy;
  • reduction of heating power;
  • poor heat and water circulation.

3. What can be done to prevent these situations?

As we have seen above, the malfunctioning of your heater can lead to quite dangerous situations for you and those around you. There are several general precautions to take into account:

  • Don't overdo it: don't set your boiler to its maximum temperature. This will prevent premature wear and tear on your unit.
  • Also keep an eye on the pressure; it should be within a reasonable range. If you have no idea how this works, contact a heating engineer via heating solutions, they should be able to help you.
  • Be aware of odors in your home. A strong rotten egg or burnt gas smell is usually characteristic of a gas leak in progress. Keep a cool head, there is no need to panic, everything will be fine. Ventilate immediately, open all doors and windows. After that, turn off the natural gas supply and finally contact help.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Do not neglect the maintenance of your heating appliances. If necessary, sign up for an annual maintenance program to ensure that maintenance and servicing are not overlooked.

4. Risks related to industrial heating


Risks related to gas in boiler rooms

Among the risks linked to the use of a gas boiler in an industrial environment, we can mention

  • Gas leaks that can lead to a fire or an explosion in the industrial boiler room
  • Accidents involving the steam circuits
  • Exhaust of polluting fumes, rich in carbon monoxide
  • Accumulation of gas due to bad combustion in the boiler

To protect yourself from these risks:

First of all, the maintenance and upkeep of your boiler system is the first reflex to adopt. At least once a year, call in a professional to check and maintain your boiler.

The gas detection will then be your best ally. Fixed or portable, it will allow you to detect very quickly potentially dangerous gases. At BE ATEX, we offer you a solution adapted to your industrial environment and to your activity.

In order to guarantee the safety of people and installations, it is also necessary to proceed every year to the verification and maintenance of the whole automatic cut-off chain (gas detection, transmission of the signal, closure of the gas supply).

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