Gas safety awareness in the home
While we all enjoy the comfort and convenience that boilers bring in our homes, we should also appreciate the importance of ensuring their proper maintenance and be aware of the risks of unsafe appliances.
The importance of getting your boiler checked regularly
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure gas safety in your property is to have your appliance regularly checked by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer. Although modern boilers are highly reliable; the better they are looked after, the better they will perform in the long term.
What type of boiler maintenance is recommended?
There are two types of maintenance checks, namely a safety inspection and a service. In a safety inspection the engineer will check the connection to the gas supply and also test that the boiler is functioning properly at the time of the inspection. A service is more thorough as the engineer will not only carry out the safety checks but will also check the whole system including pipework and perform all inspections and/or cleaning of components as specified in the boiler manufacturer’s instructions. For optimum results and to reduce your overall costs it is generally more efficient and economical to get the two checks carried out together.
How will I know if an engineer is properly qualified?
Thanks to the Gas Safe Register, the UK’s official gas registration body, you can easily check if your engineer is qualified to install and carry out work on gas appliances. Alternatively, all Gas Safe registered engineers carry an ID card which you can ask to see (it will show a licence number that allows you to confirm their registration and qualifications). If in any doubt, you can call Gas Safe on 0800 408 5500.
How often should I have my boiler checked?
It is recommended that you have your boiler routinely serviced once a year. Summer is a good time as demands on your boiler will be lighter and repairs will cause less inconvenience than in the Winter. However, if at any other time you notice signs that the boiler might not be functioning properly, you should have it checked right away.
What are the warning signs and risks of unsafe appliances?
If your boiler has been installed by, and regularly serviced by, a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer then it should deliver a safe, efficient and reliable performance. However, in situations where the boiler may have been fitted badly or, if previous maintenance has been lacking, then you should be aware of potentially dangerous consequences such as cause gas leaks, fires and explosions. Here are warning signs that a boiler isn’t working properly:
- Lazy yellow flames on your gas appliances rather than a crisp blue one
- Pilot lights that frequently blow out
- Excessive condensation on windows
- Unusual dark marks or staining around or on gas appliances
You should also get your boiler checked immediately if you notice any signs that may indicate carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous gas that is responsible for killing around 50 people a year in the UK. As it can easily go undetected due to lack of colour, scent or taste, it is important to be aware of possible symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tiredness and confusion
- Stomach pain
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- It can also result in confusion, a fast and irregular heart rate and seizures
These symptoms can be mistaken for food poisoning, viral infections or the flu, but if the symptoms disappear when you leave your house, you should have your boiler checked. As a safety precaution, it is advisable to fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home. They are available from most DIY stores and typically cost between £20-30.
What safety precautions should I take when moving into a new property?
Always ask the current owners to provide a gas safety record for all the gas appliances in the property. If they cannot provide this, or if it has been more than 12 months since the last check, you should contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out a gas safety check before you move in. Similarly, landlords are legally responsible for the safety of tenants and must organise annual maintenance using a qualified engineer and provide a Landlord’s Gas Safety Record to tenants.
A boiler is a boiler
It may seem obvious, but only ever use your appliances for their intended purpose. Don’t use an oven or hob to heat a room, or your boiler as a clothes drying rack!
If you smell gas or suspect a problem with any gas fired appliance, don’t wait. Call the National Gas Emergency helpline free on 0800 111 999.