Elgas LPG Gas Blog

Never Use a Gas Stove or Oven as a Heater

Gas stoves and ovens are for cooking only.

They are not designed or intended for use as space heaters.

Improper use can be dangerous or even fatal…

A Fatal Mistake

Back in 2016, a young sailor and his girlfriend anchored in Sydney harbour on a winter’s night.

Gas stove being used as a space heater

To keep warm, they sealed the cabin and used the gas stove as a space heater.

Given the water/air tight nature of a ship’s cabin, there was no ventilation.

The tragic result was that the young man died of carbon monoxide poisoning and his girlfriend just survived.

Never Use a Gas Cooking Appliance as a Space Heater

Gas, stoves, ovens and cooktops are not designed for use as space heaters.

They should only be for cooking purposes and never to provide room heating.

This advice applies to all enclosed areas.

This includes homes, boats, caravans and other recreational vehicles.

A Flue or Ventilation is a Necessity

For safe use, gas appliances need to be either flued or have continuous ventilation.example of a flue through a wall

Flued gas heaters have a flue pipe that directs combustion gases out of your home.

The accompanying diagram shows an installation example of a flue through a wall.

Heating the air with a gas stove or oven is impractical, even if the oven has a flue.

They are not designed for operation with the oven door open.

Problematic Gases

The gases of primary concern are CO (carbon monoxide)and NOX (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide).  

These gases can be produced during combustion and especially if there is incomplete combustion.

Indoor Gas Heaters Design is Fit for Purpose

Indoor gas heater

Australia has some of the world’s most stringent standards on indoor gas heater emissions. 

This makes our indoor gas heaters safe to use.

Indoor gas heaters types include portable (unflued) gas heaters or flued gas heaters.

Flued heaters designs have zero indoor emissions, as all the combustion gases go up the flue.

Unflued (portable) gas heaters do emit some combustion gases into your home.

Government safety regulations specify the maximum levels.

For Australian certification, unflued indoor gas heaters must meet or surpass these strict standards.

The same is not true for gas stoves, ovens or outdoor gas heaters

Outdoor gas heaters are not required to meet the indoor heater emission standards.

They are for outdoor use only, with unrestricted ventilation.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide – CO – is a toxic gas.

Carbon monoxide is colourless, odourless and tasteless.

CO is less dense than air, so it rises.

It is toxic when encountered in concentrations above about 35 ppm

It is lethal in 30 minutes at 4,000ppm.  It drops to 5 minutes at 5,000ppm.

Combustion and Carbon Monoxide (CO)

All gas appliances, domestic and industrial, produce water vapour, Carbon Dioxide and heat, and usually very small amounts of Carbon Monoxide.

If installed and maintained correctly, the operation of the gas appliance provides quick and efficient heating, cooking, hot water and more, and the products of combustion do not create any hazardous situations.

If an appliance is not correctly installed and maintained or has been modified, the products of combustion might change, and become hazardous to the people around the appliance.

Something as simple as a ventilation change (getting fresh air to the appliance to sustain complete combustion) may cause a gas appliance to malfunction, and create a hazardous situation for the people around.

Sometimes it is obvious when a gas appliance malfunctions.

Sooty smoke, red or yellow flames or poor performance are indicators, but sometimes no indicators are obvious.

If Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced and escapes the appliance into the surrounding air, it will not be obvious (no smell and no taste) but will be very dangerous.

It is essential that gas appliances are correctly installed and serviced every two years, to maintain good combustion and safe, efficient operation.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Gas appliances, functioning as designed, are quite safe when used as intended.

Natural gas or propane (LPG) appliances, with incomplete combustion, can produce carbon monoxide.

Outdoor units may generate carbon monoxide, also due to incomplete combustion. 

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning
This is why they need unrestricted ventilation.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • persistent tiredness

  • shortness of breath

  • headaches

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • loss of consciousness

Immediately stop using any gas appliance if you experience any of the above symptoms. 

Move to an area where you can breathe fresh air and seek medical attention.

How to Turn Off Gas Stove

Knowing how to turn off a gas stove correctly is also important.

Accidently leaving a gas stove turned on can create safety hazards, including both CO accumulation and fire.

Always make sure the stove is turned off.

How to Shut Off Gas Valve to Stove

Knowing how to shut off gas valve to stove is important, if any maintenance needs to be done to the stove.

Three common possibilities exist.

They are shown with their shutoff methodologies:

1. Bayonet Connection - If the unit has a bayonet connection, you only need to disconnect the bayonet and the flow is automatically terminated

2. Hard Plumbed - The unit is connected to the homes main gas supply without any intermediate control valves.  In this case, the master supply valve needs to be turned off and temporarily locked.

3. In-line Valve - The gas fitter may have installed an in-line ball valve or similar valve. This can just be turned off but it is safer to turn off the master valve and lock it, to prevent any accidental resumption of the gas flow.

If the unit is to be premanently removed, the end of the gas line must be properly capped.

It is both dangerous and illegal to leave a gas pipe open and un-capped or incorrectly capped.

This applies to all gas installations, including houses, caravans, boats, commercial buildings, warehouses and factories.

All gas pipes must be either connected to an appliance or securely capped.

This prevents any accidental or malicious gas leaks.


Carbon Monoxide – CO – Detectors

As a result of the inquest of the sailor’s death, the coroner recommended the introduction of legislation.

This legislation calls for mandatory carbon monoxide alarms. 

The recommendation applied to all recreational and leisure craft and vehicle with sealable cabins. 

This includes sailing and motor vessels, caravans and motor homes.

If concerned with CO, the best way to detect carbon monoxide is with a CO detector.

Carbon Monoxide – CO – Detector

They are available from many retailers.

This includes hardware stores, as well as from online merchants.

At the time of this writing, at least one major hardware chain and various online merchants had a choice of models for under $50 each.

Final Thoughts

When used and maintained as per the manufacturer's recommendations, indoor gas appliances are safe.

When used otherwise, including the use of a cooking appliance as a space heater, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk.

In any case, owners of leisure craft should take the coroner’s advice and install CO detectors in sealable cabins.

It’s a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind. 

carbon monoxide awareness

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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free & may not be applicable in all circumstances.