Program in place to address CO risk in Heritage gas heaters
Energy Safe Victoria is urging Victorians with either a Vulcan Heritage or a Pyrox Heritage gas heater in their home not to use them until they are tested by a qualified gasfitter.
Victoria’s Director of Energy Safety, Paul Fearon, said both the Pyrox and Vulcan brands of the Heritage heater produce high levels of carbon monoxide under certain conditions.
“If the house is well sealed and the heater is operating at the same time as a kitchen or bathroom exhaust fan, carbon monoxide from the heater can be drawn into living areas,” he said.
“The manufacturer Climate Technologies has a program in place to test every household with one of these heaters.”
Anyone with a Pyrox or a Vulcan heritage gas heater should call Climate Technologies on (03) 8795 2462
For people living in DHHS housing, please call 1800 148 426.
Open flue heaters, like the Vulcan Heritage or Pyrox Heritage space heater, are old technology and not necessarily compatible with many new or renovated homes with less ventilation.
As a result, and in addition to the testing and replacement program now in place, all Vulcan Heritage or Pyrox Heritage space heaters have been withdrawn from sale and their manufacturer has ceased production.
“This is a timely reminder that everyone should have indoor gas appliances, especially heaters, checked by a qualified gasfitter every two years,” Mr Fearon said.
Heritage space heaters – Q&A
All Victorians with a Vulcan Heritage or a Pyrox Heritage gas space heater in their home need to get them checked by a qualified gasfitter immediately.
Laboratory tests show that open flue heaters such as the Heritage may, under certain operating conditions, produce too much carbon monoxide if they are not properly installed and maintained. All Victorians with a Vulcan Heritage or a Pyrox Heritage gas space heater in their home need to get them checked by a qualified gasfitter immediately.
The combination of inadequate ventilation as well as operating bathroom exhaust fans or kitchen range hoods at the same time as the heater can draw carbon monoxide into living areas. The risk is increased if the heaters and associated components such as the flue are not regularly serviced.
What do I do?
If you have one of these heaters, do not use it until it can be tested by a qualified gasfitter. Testing should also include the flue and checking for adequate ventilation.
In the meantime, please use alternative sources of heating. DO NOT bring outdoor gas appliances inside such as a patio heater. This is dangerous and could also lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
For people living in DHHS housing:
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has a program in place to have all Vulcan Heritage gas space heaters or Pyrox Heritage gas space heater in their properties tested.
Phone DHHS on 1800 148 426 for more information.
For private homes:
Contact the manufacturer Climate Technologies to arrange for a test of the heater and the installation environment by a qualified gasfitter (to be appointed by Climate Technologies). Climate Technologies will provide a $150 rebate towards the cost of this test.
If a problem is detected, Climate Technologies will discuss a range of options with you, including servicing or maintenance of the heater, or increasing ventilation. If the heater needs to be decommissioned, Climate Technologies will contribute to the cost.
Phone Climate Technologies on (03) 8795 2462 for more information.
Why hasn’t ESV recalled these heaters?
While ESV has the power to enforce a recall, our chief concern is community safety. The quickest and most effective way to ensure community safety is to work cooperatively with the manufacturer to ensure Heritage heaters are checked by qualified gasfitters and, if necessary, decommissioned.
I have a Vulcan water heater – is that affected?
No, Vulcan gas water heaters are not affected by this issue. The program in place is for Vulcan or Pyrox Heritage gas space heaters only. We recommend getting all gas appliances serviced every two years.
What is a qualified gasfitter?
All registered and licensed gasfitters are issued with a photo ID card that lists the type of work they are allowed to do. All practitioners should carry this ID and you can request to see it at any time.
Check that the qualified gasfitter is endorsed to service Type A gas appliances (their photo ID will include this information) and has the training to detect carbon monoxide spillage.
You can also check if a gasfitter is licensed or registered online, using the Victorian Building Authority directory.
What has happened?
ESV has established a number of failures with the product certification process.
Open-flue heaters like the Pyrox and Vulcan Heritage space heaters are old technology and are not necessarily designed to operate in better-sealed, newer houses that may have less ventilation. In most older houses, carbon monoxide can simply escape via the heater’s flue or chimney.
They were first manufactured in 1977 and many have been replaced with different kinds of heaters.
In addition to the testing and replacement programs in place, all Vulcan Heritage or Pyrox Heritage space heaters have been withdrawn from sale and their manufacturer has ceased production.
How do I tell if my heater is a Vulcan Heritage or Pyrox Heritage?
The heaters concerned can be easily identified be the Vulcan or Pyrox branding and the ‘Heritage’ marking on the front fascia in the lower left hand corner. This marking is visible in the photos below.
What is a space heater?
As the name suggests, a space heater is designed to heat a particular space rather than the entire house. So, a space heater in a living room is designed to heat the living room only.
What is the difference between open-flued and room sealed heaters?
An open-flued heater draws air (for the burner to operate) from the room or space in which the heater is installed. So in the case of a space heater in the living room, an open-flued heater draws air from that living room. The exhaust fumes (which include carbon monoxide) are meant to escape outside through a flue or chimney but in circumstances where there is a lack of ventilation and exhaust fans are operating, those fumes are drawn back into the living room.
A room sealed heater draws air from the burner from outside. The best way to determine whether your heater is room sealed or open flued is to contact the manufacturer and provide them with the brand and model of your heaters.
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