Gas is still the most popular fuel used for heating, and is extremely safe if certain procedures are rigidly adhered to. It’s important to know what checks are required, how often, and how to get them done professionally.
1. Use only Gas Safe Registered Professionals
Firstly, it’s vital to ensure only certified and qualified professionals maintain your gas equipment.
Only use a Gas Safe (previously CORGI) registered engineer or plumber. Along with appearing on the Gas Safe Register website when you conduct a local search, their website, vehicles and printed materials usually display the yellow triangle logo.
The engineer who visits will carry a card clearly displaying their individual ID, the expiry date, the company they are working for and – crucially – the work they are qualified to do. For example, they may be certified to work on your boiler, but not to install a gas fire.
ONLY Gas Safe registered personnel should be allowed to work on your gas appliances. The previous CORGI system has been superseded by Gas Safe so anyone with old CORGI credentials is NOT QUALIFIED.
Don’t allow an individual engineer who usually works for a company to do work for you ‘on the side’ privately. Even if the individual is Gas Safe registered with a company, it’s illegal for them to work on your gas equipment in this way.
2. What to check for
Your gas appliances and other equipment should fulfil four basic functions:
- Work efficiently to keep you warm and minimise energy costs
- Not leaking in any way
- No carbon monoxide emissions – can cause poisoning and prove fatal
- CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions – the less efficient your gas equipment is performing, the more pollutants you are adding to the atmosphere
Can you smell gas? If so, don’t operate any electrical switches or devices and call 0800 111 999 immediately.
Look at the flames your appliances produce; crisp blue ones show equipment is working efficiently and safely whereas yellow flames hint at problems. Check for black marks or stains around the appliances and for condensation in the property.
3. When to check?
If you’re a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to ensure annual checks are carried out on your gas equipment.
If you rent a property, your landlord is legally obliged to ensure all gas appliances are checked and serviced annually – and can produce a gas safety record to show this.
If you’re on a means tested benefit, of pension age or disabled you may be entitled to free annual gas checks. Find out from your energy supplier if you qualify and can be put on their Priority Services Register.
If you move home, have all gas equipment checked by a Gas Safe professional – certainly don’t assume everything is safe regardless of what you’re told. If you move into a rented property, ask to see the gas safety record.
4. Fit a Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially deadly gas, and is particularly dangerous as it’s invisible and odourless. It’s important to protect yourself against any possibility of poisoning through carbon monoxide emissions from faulty equipment, and a carbon monoxide alarm is a very worthwhile investment.
If you’re living in a rented property, your landlord isn’t legally obliged to install a carbon monoxide alarm in the case of gas appliances, but they are if there’s a solid fuel (such as coal) appliance in the property.
They may provide one at their discretion or one may already be installed when you move in; if not, buying one is strongly recommended. They’re not overly expensive and can be removed and taken with you when you move out.
A good alarm shouldn’t cost more than around £20. Make sure it’s displaying a British or European approval Kitemark or similar.
Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Emissions
You may notice some or all of the following:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Feeling hungover
If so, switch all gas equipment off, leave the property immediately and contact a Gas Safe expert. If these symptoms disappear when you leave the property and others living with you are similarly affected, then carbon monoxide is likely.
A carbon monoxide alarm should alert you before emissions rise to dangerous levels, but ensure you fit it properly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
5. Keep gas-related Contact Numbers Handy
Ensure the contact phone numbers you may need in a hurry are to hand. Put them in your mobile phone and in a prominent place somewhere where you can access and see them easily and quickly.
Numbers to make a note of:
- Gas Emergency freephone number: 0800 111 999
- Your local trusted Gas Safe engineer or plumber
By far your best decision is finding a reputable Gas Safe engineer you can rely on to regularly check, service and – when required – repair your gas equipment.
Stephen Turner is the Director of Aquatek Domestic & Commercial Plumbing & Heating. He is Gas Safe registered and provides affordable boiler servicing, repairs and other heating and plumbing services in London, Essex and Herts.