A faulty boiler led to the death of a 60-year-old woman from St Ives, a coroner found.
The BBC reports that Coroner Barry Van den Berg ruled that Gilliam Adams, whose body was found on 12th February 2013, lost her life due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
A gas investigator at the inquest reported that the boiler had problems with its flue and ventilation system, and it was uncertain when the appliance had previously undergone a boiler service.
Ms Adam’s body was found in her home at Treliska Guest House, Bedford Road, by a neighbour and builder. Three dogs, which had also succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, were also found in the property.
Neighbour Jane Hall told the inquest in a statement that she had spoken to Ms Adams on the evening of the 11th of February. She said that Ms Adams appeared to be in good spirits, but was slurring her speech.
The emergency services found that Ms Adam’s home contained high levels of toxic carbon monoxide. Gas investigator Cary Marshall, who analysed the gas boiler, found that it was at least 20 years old and did not meet modern gas safety standards. Patches of corrosion indicated that gas was not burning properly in the appliances, the air intakes of the boiler were found to contain a large amount of dust and animal hair, and the ventilation provided to the boiler was inadequate for its size and power, he told the inquest.
The flue and chimney were also adversely affected by weather conditions at the time of the incident, and carbon monoxide was therefore kept within the building rather than being expelled outside, Mr Marshall added.
Carbon monoxide safety and boiler breakdowns
This case underlines how important it is for people to have their boilers serviced regularly. A dangerous central heating system will not necessarily experience a boiler breakdown, and may continue working for years after it develops faults. If a Gas Safe engineer does not check the appliance, then these faults will remain undiscovered, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Mr Marshall said following the inquest that the death of Ms Adams shows how important it is for gas burning appliances to be regularly maintained. He also said that it underlines how vital carbon monoxide alarms are.
Every year, faulty gas appliances and flues, or broken central heating ventilation systems, take the life of around 12 people in the UK alone. Many people who are exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide but who escape with their lives suffer long-term neurological deficits.
Anyone who believes they have been exposed to carbon monoxide should seek medical attention urgently.