News | Published on 17th Sep 2018

HHIC’s Top Gas Safety tips #GSW18

Recent research by Gas Safe Register found that a third of people (33%) don't know the signs of an unsafe gas appliance - so Gas Safety Week is an ideal opportunity to educate people on how to stay safe.

This year each day of the week is focusing on a specific theme, all of which relate to gas safety.

The theme for Monday 17th September is ‘Family Matters’.

HHIC’s message to homeowners, to ensure a safe comfortable family life is to -Maintain your appliances.

Poorly maintained gas appliances increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and gas leaks. During Gas Safety Week we want to remind all homeowners about the importance of staying gas safe and having their gas appliances (heating, fires, cookers) serviced regularly by a Gas Safe Registered engineer.

Based on a recent study, Regular appliance servicing and maintenance can help to achieve a 7-fold reduction in appliance risk. The HHIC consumer guide to gas boiler servicing outlines what a good boiler service should entail, with appropriate regular servicing. Which is also invariably a condition of any extended manufacturers’ warranty.

For Tuesday 18th September the theme is ‘In The Know With CO’

The easiest way to comply with Building Regulations and ensure that appliances are safely installed is through completion of the Benchmark Checklist. Benchmark is a nationally recognised scheme that ensures best practice in installation, commissioning and servicing of domestic heating and hot water products in line with Building Regulations in England and Wales, and was developed to drive up standards in the industry. It also helps homeowners ‘be in the know’ by providing written evidence and peace of mind that their installation has been carried out to a high standard by an installer who is qualified and committed to providing a service in line with the Benchmark Code of Practice. Completion of the Benchmark checklist satisfies the boiler warranty- which is a separate form for the engineer to complete- and also provides traceability of who installed the appliance should they need to be contacted in the future.

The Benchmark commissioning checklist & servicing records includes a mandatory requirement to record combustion readings (CO, CO/CO2 ratio) when a new or replacement boiler is installed and commissioned. This ensures the appliance begins its installed lifetime burning safely, and will assist as a secondary measure in ensuring the boiler’s flue system is correctly installed. Engineers can refer to the HHIC technical bulletin TB 143 (published by Gas Safe Register) for more detail.

In addition to completion of the benchmark form, engineers must also follow the product Manufacturers’ instructions whether the work carried out is installation, service or maintenance. The MI’s will often contain bespoke engineer guidance for the product, which may differ from the generic industry standards.

The midweek theme for Wednesday 19th September’s is ‘Responsible Renting’

HHIC is urging consumers to ensure that all appliances are fitted by a Gas Safe registered engineer – something which can easily be checked online through the Gas Safe register, or in person by checking their ID card.

Further, given that the private rented sector currently comprises 17% of the population (around 10 million people) and is the fastest growing tenure type, it is vital that landlords ensure all gas appliances are serviced and safety checked every year, by a competent Gas Safe registered engineer, providing a gas safety record to tenants on request. By empowering themselves with a knowledge regarding gas safety, tenants can protect themselves against complications that can arise from having unsafe gas appliances, such as the silent killer – Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Thursday 20th September tackles ‘Illegal Gas Work’

Awareness of using a Gas Safe registered engineer is, of course, crucial to driving out the cowboys. However, there are additional considerations to be aware of, in order to stay ‘inside the law’. 

Signing off gas work- While a non-registered person may carry out “wet work” i.e. install water pipes and radiators for a heating system, any work on the gas boiler itself and the final connection of the water pipework to the boiler, must be performed by a Gas Safe registered engineer (see note 2 below)

It is not acceptable for a Gas Safe registered engineer to knowingly “sign off” gas work that has been carried out by a person who is not registered in order to circumvent the legal requirements. Where this has occurred, both the registered and unregistered installer may face prosecution.

Friday 21st September celebrates the ‘Gas Safe Heroes’

Not only do competent registered engineers require in-depth knowledge of gas regulations, they also need knowledge of things like drainage and electrical regulations. Safe isolation & electrical checks – many modern gas appliances offered for sale, and all domestic boilers, operate on mains voltage. Engineers must always check that the appliance is electrically isolated wherever possible before they work on it, and exercise extreme caution when carrying out functional appliance checks and test which make isolation impractical. Safe working with appliance and heating system electrics keeps engineers and their customers safe and helps prevent any gas-related risks too.

The message for Saturday 22nd September is ‘Don't DIY With Gas’

Do not attempt to fit, fix or move gas appliances such as your boiler or cooker yourself. ONLY Gas safe registered engineers have the right skills to do this safely.

£100 million each year is wasted rectifying illegal jobs, 1 in 5 of these jobs had to be disconnected immediately to make them safe. Before any gas work is carried out always check the engineer is qualified to carry out the work that needs doing e.g. natural gas, domestic boiler. You can find this information on the Gas Safe Register website or by checking the back of the engineer’s Gas Safe ID card.

Finishing the week on Sunday 23rd September the theme is ‘Home Safe And Sound’

In order to keep your home ‘safe and sound’, HHIC urges homeowners and registered engineers to only ask for “genuine” spare parts.  Gas appliances are required to undergo strict certification testing, to ensure they are constructed in a manner which does not pose a risk when normally used. This generally involves testing the appliance in accordance with a British or European standard and caters for variances which might be experienced in the field, e.g. fluctuations in mains voltage or gas pressure.

This means that, following successful testing, consumers and registered engineers alike, can be assured that the appliance is safe and fit for purpose. However, if the appliance is ever in need of repair, it is important that only “genuine” parts recommended by the appliance manufacturer are used, even more, so where these are of a safety critical nature. Doing so ensures that the appliance is not modified in a way which might undermine its existing certifications, a requirement of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations, and which may potentially cast doubt on the safety and reliability the appliance manufacturer has worked hard to design in, and enable to be restored (if needed) through the specification of suitable spare parts.

Genuine parts will have been verified as suitable to effect a quality repair and return the appliance to optimum levels of safety and performance, whereas if non-genuine parts are used it is possible that the appliance could be adversely affected.

It is important that registered engineers understand, to protect themselves, that they could be held liable if an incident were to arise from the use of inappropriate spare parts they have fitted. Always ask for the genuine part from your reputable merchant or supplier, and check that the part received matches the manufacturers specified genuine part number. Often the appliance manufacturers brand will also be on the box/packaging, giving a visual indicator that it is indeed the genuine part you are taking receipt of.

In short, non-genuine spare parts may not have been physically tested within the appliances they are marketed as compatible for use with, and such unknowns could be putting your customer at risk, and your professional reputation in jeopardy. The appliance manufacturers warranty may also be voided if non-genuine parts are used.