/ Home & Energy

Boiler servicing investigation expert: ‘I was stunned’

The experts who helped assess how well engineers serviced a faulty boiler were shocked to see most failing to meet legal requirements. One expert, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares his thoughts.

I have been in the gas industry all my working life and have gained more than 40 years’ experience. I am a qualified tutor, assessor, internal verifier and a quality consultant.

When I was approached by Which? to work as an expert, I felt confident I would find the majority of gas engineers to be competent due to the rigorous training and high standards that are expected within the gas qualification, with competency checks every five years.

So I was stunned to witness 10 supposedly proficient engineers carry out a service of a simple central heating boiler, where not one completed this task correctly. In my opinion the services were not carried out to the manufacturer’s instructions and the appliance was not left in a safe working condition on most occasions.

Poor knowledge of basic gas safety

Leaving a boiler over-gassed, and not confirming the case seal is intact are both, in certain circumstances, potentially unsafe – leading to a serious situation.

It was clear that some of the engineers had little understanding of the concept of how to service a boiler or basic gas safety, and when carrying out a flue gas analysis test did not seem to understand the findings.

In conclusion, I have to ask why the knowledge and understanding was so poor. Could it be that the engineers are under economic pressures to complete the job quickly – or is it that training is not consistent throughout the United Kingdom?

Have you been surprised by the standard of work done by a boiler engineer?

You can read the results of our boiler investigation online or in the September 2015 issue of Which? magazine. We shared our findings with the Gas Safe Register, which has promised to look into our findings.

Comments
Member

We have had a British Gas service plan for quite a long time now.

They used to do what appeared to be a fairly comprehensive service, clean the jets, dismantle and examine various parts, etc. Now a service seems to be little more than check the flue and a coffee break. When I spoke to a service engineer, he told me that several engineers had been badly hurt and they weren’t allowed to do things like they used to – health and safety !!!

Our aging boiler breaks down about once a year or two and the repair engineers seem to be of a better standard so we now wait until it breaks down to get it serviced and they seem to do a much better job.

I would like British Gas to supply customers with a list of everything a service engineer should do when they service a boiler.

Member

Over the years I have found gas engineers to be a rather opinionated lot whereas there should be a uniform and technical approach to the condition and rectification of a boiler in accordance with the manufacturer’s specification. They seem to have a habit of disagreeing with advice given, or criticising work done, by colleagues in their own company. My response has been to say that I will call the company and get an inspector or supervisor to check their work; a retraction usually follows. In another Conversation [“Are you happy with how your boiler is serviced?”] there was reference [19:08:15] to the service engineer not wishing to be watched while he serviced the boiler. That is just unacceptable.

I wonder whether the engineer who has contributed this Conversation would like to comment on the quality assurance systems in place and on-site inspection and test arrangements for checking the competence of field engineers. The engineers certify their own work and complete the safety and compliance documentation. In nearly forty years of having gas boilers serviced annually there has never been a follow-up inspection or check that the records submitted to the company by the engineer are correct. The likelihood is that the work is done satisfactorily since the number of serious incidents involving gas boilers is very low but that might have more to do with the safety protections and shut-down systems installed in the boilers than with the quality of servicing.

Alfa suggests that the service company [BG in his case] should supply the customer with a list of everything a service engineer should do when they service a boiler. I agree with that and was thinking they should go further and put a video on-line to show the correct procedure when I realised that might tempt some people to try and do it themselves which could be very dangerous.

Member

Thanks to ‘Anonymous’ for posting this Conversation.

Which? has reported the findings to the Gas Safe Register. If every one of ten engineers has failed to carry out their work correctly then there must be something serious wrong. If boilers are left in a potentially dangerous condition, will any of the engineers be removed from the Gas Safe Register, either permanently or until training and assessment has been completed?

I appreciate that it is not within the remit of Which? to take direct action but we really need to be told what action the GSR has taken to deal with the problem. Presumably GSR will make a response if Which? does a press release but I want to see evidence of action, not the usual apologies that organisations make when publicly criticised.

I wonder if ‘Anonymous’ and other responsible engineers think should be done to tackle the problem, and in particular why so many engineers are not doing what they should. This is not the first time that Which? has highlighted problems with boiler servicing.

Member

Hi Wavechange. Some more information for you for our online news story:

We’ve shared our findings with the Gas Safe Register. It promised to look into our findings further. A spokesman said: ‘Our experts inspect around 30,000 gas jobs every year, and if there are any instances where we find that an engineer is not working safely, we take appropriate action to remedy this.

‘Following Which?’s claims, we are looking into the registered businesses to inspect their gas work.’

We also shared our results with the firms we investigated. In statements, they all said safety was their priority and wanted to investigate further. Now we are calling for better checks on incompetent engineers.

Member

Thanks Patrick. I appreciate it is not within the remit of Which? to take direct action and that problems are always reported promptly to the relevant organisations.

The response from GSR looks like a typical response from an organisation when Which? uncovers a problem as a result of undercover investigation or otherwise.

If GSR informs the public – either on its website or via Which? – of large numbers of engineers being struck off the register or retrained and reassessed then I might be prepared to believe that they are taking appropriate measures. There is no comment about the Which? investigation on the GSR website and I rather doubt that will will learn of any action unless Which? keeps up the pressure.

Member

Patrick, I’m assuming all 10 servicing engineers you used were gas safe registered, although the report does not say so. Did you check that they did not have bogus credentials?
If you had an accredited expert to inspect the work done and “We also exposed engineers making potentially dangerous mistakes.” would it not have been appropriate to have taken legal action against the companies that provided them?
The usual “we will investigate” (you’ve already done that) and “we take appropriate action to remedy this.” (what action?) are usually just brush-offs and it all gets forgotten
Perhaps when serious problems arise Which? should bare its teeth and take direct action.

Member

Hi

Thanks for these comments. We will definitely be following up our investigation with both the Gas Safe Register and the companies involved to see if our findings have made any difference and what action has been taken – or could be in the future. The companies we used all claimed to be Gas Safe registered and we have passed our findings on to Gas Safe to look at further.

Do watch this space for more on this subject in the months to come though – we certainly haven’t finished looking at this issue.

Ellie

Member
John Creasey says:
23 August 2015

Hi Ellie – personally, I think that this is an excellent starting point. Hopefully if ‘Which’ can keep the foot (albeit lightly maybe) on the pedal, standards can be pushed upwards.

I’m sure that most people can point out people in their own organisations who fall short of expectations, but when it comes to something like ‘gas safety’ it becomes more critical and important.

The report doesn’t state what type of boiler was serviced but does mention that it was tested by some with the cover off. There are occasions with the newer types of ‘High efficiency’ boilers that the main front cover is indeed off when carrying out certain tests and obtaining readings. Adjustments are then made to the gas valve with the front off. I am assuming that it was not one of these types of appliances, but I haven’t spotted it in your report.

I only mention this for clarity as I wouldn’t want a client to think I was doing something incorrect having read the Which report and not understood the difference between appliances.

All boilers should be serviced ‘according to the manufacturer’s instructions’, and this is the overriding criteria – I am sure that your expert would have been working on this basis.

Also similarly and quite worryingly, there is a gas engineer who has posted in the past that the PCB – printed circuit board should be taken out and inspected at servicing times. I know of not one single manufacturer who would want you to do this, and indeed any I have spoken to have been amazed at this suggestion. (as have other registered installers). Scary stuff !

Keep up the good work.

John

Member

John – I take your points about the lack of detail. What’s in the Which? report is fine for the general public but it would add a lot of credibility if those in the industry had access to a more detailed report.

I can guess why a service engineer might inspect a circuit board. This can show evidence components that are likely to fail in future even if they are working fine when inspected. I have seen numerous examples of overheated components and swollen capacitors in domestic equipment that is often built with price rather than reliability in mind. I have no experience with boilers but having often heard of PCBs being replaced, I presume there may be problems of this nature. Decent circuit boards should really last the life of the boiler. Back in the days when engineers did repairs of TVs and radios (rather than swapping failed circuit boards) it was common to look for developing problems and replace components with ones more suitable for the purpose. In fact, TV engineers were sometimes advised to replace under-rated components by manufacturers when working on particular sets.

Member
TonyW says:
20 August 2015

Your report is entitled “Boiler engineers”, but you are only talking about gas boilers in this article. Many of us use oil or solid fuel especially in rural areas.

Member

Gas appliances seem to get all the attention because of the greater risks but oil boilers need more frequent inspection because an accumulation of soot is not uncommon. Here is some advice from a trade association: http://www.oftec.org/Media/Default/DocGalleries/OFTEC%20Homes%20Guides/OFTEC_HomeGuide_OilServicing_Pub48.pdf

All gas engineers have to be on the Gas Safe Register but I do not know of any equivalent organisation for engineers who work on oil boilers. Some engineers do both oil and gas.

Member

Here is some information about the Gas Safe Register, from the HSE website:

“The Gas Safe Register operates under an agreement with HSE and was launched on 1 April 2009. The previous scheme, CORGI Gas Registration, had been in place for more than 17 years and during that time the number of domestic gas related fatalities had fallen significantly. However, a 2006 review of domestic gas safety PDF involving industry stakeholders, including gas engineers and their representatives and consumer groups, identified no room for complacency and a strong case for change.

This was seen as a great opportunity to build on the successes of the previous scheme and at the same time introduce innovation to further develop existing arrangements and add value to gas consumer safety. A cross HSE project team supported by expert external legal and procurement advice and overseen by a Project Board ran a procurement exercise to select a provider to run the new scheme and on 8 September 2008, HSE awarded a 10 year contract PDF to the Capita Group Plc to provide a new registration scheme for gas engineers – Gas Safe Register.

Gas Safe Register gave a commitment to delivering improvements to gas safety and add value for consumers and gas engineers. For consumers, a commitment to improve gas safety through raising of awareness of domestic gas safety risks and improving public assurance on the competence of registered gas engineers and the safety of gas work. For engineers, a registration scheme that focuses exclusively on gas safety and promotes the competence of registered engineers and an agreement to reduce fees and costs in real terms during the period of the contract.

The performance of the Gas Safe Register is measured against a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that monitor the key aspects of delivery of the scheme, such as consumer awareness of gas safety risks, consumer and engineer satisfaction with the service provided by the register and the targeting of the scheme’s efforts in the areas where it will have greatest effect. The KPI’s are monitored on an ongoing basis, with annual targets, and there are financial and contractual implications if the Gas Safe Register fails to meet the targets set.”

Member

It is not at all reassuring to have a Gas Safe scheme run by Capita. Readers of Private Eye will understand – no doubt many others. I don’t know what Capita know about gas appliances but I am always wary of organisations that take on and manage stuff in which they have no previous experience. I believe understanding the industry you are becoming more involved in is of great value – but perhaps I am just overcautious.

Member

That was my immediate thought when I read that Capita were running the registration scheme. For them, it could just be an administrative exercise with a moronic computer programme relying on pro forma returns from people going through the motions. I look forward to further information on this. I am somewhat disappointed that HSE outsources this function without any apparent concern over the essential technical and safety performance elements. With around 15-20 million domestic gas boilers in the UK the demand for gas engineers has grown exponentially over the last three decades and maintaining the required competence while passing sufficient engineers to maintain all these boilers has probably been a challenge.

Member

I discovered the involvement of Capita last time we were discussing gas boilers. Rather than investing money in Capita, why does HSE not spend the money on doing something more practical than portraying achievement. Perhaps Which? should be informing Capita that their recent undercover survey suggests serious shortcomings in boiler servicing.

Member

Here is the reply from the Health and Safety Executive about an enquiry under the FOI Act asking for information about prosecution of registered Gas Safe Engineers: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/prosecutions_of_registered_gas_s

In brief, HSE said that it did not have the information requested. Unbelievable.

Perhaps it’s time to remind everyone to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a gas appliance, test it regularly and replace after five years or as recommended by the manufacturer. Unlike smoke alarms they have a limited life.

Member

Why are they being called engineers, we all know they’re really salesman.

Member
Darren Ward says:
21 August 2015

I am a heating engineer and find the report totally damning towards our profession for the following reasons.
1. If you do a report then name and shame all parties. You say 5 independents but who are they how long have they been trading, how large are the firms etc so that we can get a more detailed picture of your survey. You have taken 5 independents with no further details and decided to tarnish an entire industry with the same brush.
2. Were the 5 Independents Which Trusted traders or not and if not, why not scrutinise your own engineers you promote ?

Finally i would like to add that I have been in the heating industry for 30 years, we carry out a thorough manufacturers service as standard and leave the customer with a Boiler Service Record with all the relevant details (expected in this report) documented. I am extremely proud of the level of service we offer.
I do not like people who carry out poor work nor do I like illegal gas fitters, yet members of the public continue to use them KNOWINGLY to save £20 on a job (for example).
If people really do want to save money and get good service, they should be using a small local business in their area who will be far more experienced than any engineer a large company will send out.
They could also save money (possibly over £2000 over 10 years) by using an independent than having a Gas Contract insurance cover thats littered with small print with larger companies.
Ask friends, family and neighbours and these guys are easier to find than you imagine.
My issue with the report isn’t the findings, it is the tarnishing an entire industry with the same brush with what I consider a flawed, headline grabbing report with 5 Independent companies we know absolutely nothing about. I expect better from Which? who should really focus on exposing larger companies for their poor service and deliver the general public a proper guide to how our industry actually works and how they can really save money by using the very best an industry has to offer.

Member

I feel that it would have been helpful if we had been told how long a “thorough” service should take as mine is done in less than 45 mins. As my boiler is in the airing cupboard in a small bathroom it is impossible to check how long the engineer spends working on the boiler unless I sit on the edge of the bath or loo which I doubt they would appreciate!

Member

Having read the full report (pages 22-24 in the September magazine) it does not appear to state that the ten engineers were on the Gas Safe Register at the time. Bearing in mind what Darren has said about engineers operating illegally, it would be useful to have confirmation that the ones in the investigation were legal.

It is vital that every engineer is complying with regulations and working safely, whether they are individuals or working for a large company, well established or new to the trade. It’s like food, which needs to be safe wherever you buy it and irrespective of how much you pay.

Darren suggests we should ask friends, family and neighbours to find a service engineer. That might help us know whether they will turn up on time and that their charges seem reasonable, but it won’t help us know whether they are working safely. I’m very glad that Which? has conducted this investigation and hope that some engineers may see it as a help to improve standards in the industry.

I have often wondered how garages, boiler servicing companies and others identified as Which? Trusted Traders would fare in Which? undercover investigations. If this revealed that Trusted Traders were generally operating to higher safety standards, that would be a very good endorsement for the scheme, and a way of getting other conscientious engineers involved. But whether or not engineers feature as Trusted Traders, they have to comply with safety requirements that have been laid down.

Member

Trusted Traders does have spot checks (undercover investigators) when I asked the question.
I haven’t seen the Sept Mag yet, just the online article, and have asked whether Which? checked the service engineers’ credentials.

I sympathise with Darren Ward’s (heating engineer) comments above that Which? tend to condemn an industry rather easily. We don’t know how the engineers were chosen, whether they were actually qualified, what kind of companies they came from and how representative they are of the industry. If they are typical (but a much larger sample would be needed) then there is need of a radical look at training, examination and accreditation. This would just be a beginning.

Watchdog would quite happily expose people who do rubbish, dangerous. or extortionately priced work (“rip offs”). Why, if Which? are confident that these engineers were dangerous (and, by implication, their employers) do they not name and shame them?

Member

Malcolm – One possible reason why Which? has not ‘named and shamed’ is that the engineer monitored may be unsatisfactory even if others working for the same company were first rate. It’s a sample number of one per company and even the finest organisation can have a few poor staff. I would want to see more evidence before condemning a company.

This is an important report but not, I think, one of Which’s best efforts. At the start it says: “Find out which firms failed to meet the legal requirements and how to protect yourself from poor work” Only the five large organisations whose engineers were monitored are mentioned. Maybe it had been the original intention to name and shame them all, large and small. I’m just guessing.

I have thought long and hard about how Which? should tackle investigations. You and I would be much happier with larger sample sizes in this and other reports, but that would mean that Which? would not be able to devote resources to other important issues. I can fully understand their approach of informing authorities and companies of problems and giving them the opportunity to respond. My main concern, as I said above, is that Which? members often don’t learn what has been achieved as a result of a Which? investigation such as the one we are discussing.

Member

I agree that Which? should make more in depth and therefore significant (as in representative) investigations into serious matters such as this. It should also follow remedies through, having alerted the authorities. My criticism is that it goes public too quickly, often with a sensational headline, on a limited small-scale investigation. Oregano?
Perhaps it should be more discriminating in its list of investigations, but do them more thoroughly and with tenacity.
I’d like to have results on Xperia phones, exploding washing machines, inspection of food outlets (lack of), sorting out short life and radio-interfering LED light bulbs, illegal imported electrical items, making proper use of the Sale of Goods Act………..for example.
The trouble is, perhaps, it has monthly mags to fill.

Member
derek thomas says:
22 August 2015

well done which about time some one picked up on this,
lots more to tell but not on here,
ask an honest engineer and he will tell you what goes on and will not worry about you watching him, he is supposed to ask you questions about how your boiler is working,
i have worked for several large companies who give you 16 boilers a day to service in an eight hour day,
if they are all gas fire and back boilers the quickest i could service one in, is one hour ten minutes and that is stripping it right down to clean it all out,
and that is if the boilers are all next to one another in the same road,
if you do not achieve the 16 boilers in a day you are summoned into the office to explain,
as i found out by experience as i refused to service any more than 7 boilers,
i have been threatened with my job but i am not worried peoples safety comes before non trained managers and i will not carry out unsafe work,
i am both commercial and domestic engineer and have worked in the gas industry most of my life;
i have left some companies for this very reason ,
as the time has passed over the years i have encountered engineers who would not even take the front cover off a boiler;
if an engineer services a boiler it is up to him to make sure that boiler is in a safe condition,
i refused to commission a water heater because it was fitted incorrectly by non gas safe engineers by the company i worked for which seems to be common practice for some companies,
what did my company do they got an outsider to commission it even though it was labelled and
an id certificate issued, they passed it with id faults on it,
thats what managers do to satisfy their customers
non competent managers overiding decisions
this is not an isolated case
i am now 67 and just passed my courses two months ago and only work part time yes i am gas safe registered, i work as an independant,
peoples safety first no matter how long it takes,
different boilers take less time to service than others depending on manufacturers build,
as for william calling us salesman he is probably the one who never gets his boiler serviced until it breaks down then moans because it will cost more to repair than a new one, or he has probably encountered one of these so called engineers,

Member

Derek – Thanks for some informative comments. Can you suggest what needs to be done to ensure that as far as possible, all work done on gas appliances is done to a high standard? You mention the unrealistic expectations of what an engineer can achieve in a day. I have heard this before from engineers working in other fields.

Member

A local ‘gas safe’ boiler servicing company advertises in my local gratis newsletter displayimg a ‘Which? Trusted trader’ logo. I stopped using this company however due to their 5/7 operational services. On one occasion immediately following an annual service which took place on a Friday, my boiler failed to light and I had to wait until Monday without heat for them to come and fix it. On another occasion, which I have posted on a previous Which?Convo, I had to call them back to change a thermo coupling that was installed at its last service and which failed after only 3 months and for which I was charged an additional call out fee of over £100 which I refused to pay under the Sale of Goods Act. On another occasion, due to a bank error I was overcharged a very large sum for a service which I immediately queried with the bank who admitted the error and subsequently refunded the overcharge. The company however failed to inform me of this, preferring to stay quiet, I presumed, in the hope that I wouldn’t notice the error.

I have now switched to another company but was not happy with the state the engineer left my boiler in. It’s cover had not been put back in its correct position due to the thermo coupling protruding out at an angle which I had to adjust myself in order to close it.

The Gas Safe regulator should appoint an inspector to turn up unannounced as is normal practice with the food industry to monitor the work carried out and award a rating but this would involve the cooperation of the public to alert the regulator of the proposed work to be carried out.

Member

Hi Beryl,

We’re sorry to hear about your experience. Could you please forward your post, along with the details of the business to trustedtraders@which.co.uk so that we can investigate?

Regards
Tom (W?Local & W?Trusted Traders)

Member

Beryl, have you reported the company to Which? They might review its Trusted Trader status.

Member

Malcolm I was prompted to send the above post following the report featured in the September edition of Which? magazine, “Should you trust your boiler engineer” Page 22, which arrived this morning. I do however possess written evidence to substantiate the claims I make.

Member

I am concerned about Which? issuing endorsements like “Trusted Trader” and “Best Buy” for commercial companies to use in advertising. If these endorsements are issued only within the Which? membership then members know who to contact if they have a problem with the trader or product. Which? hopefully might then act if enough complaints are received. However the “general public” are less likely to report such problems, or even know who Which? are or how to contact them. Perhaps it has become too commercial?

Member

Quote from Patrick:
“We’ve shared our findings with the Gas Safe Register. It promised to look into our findings further. A spokesman said: ‘Our experts inspect around 30,000 gas jobs every year, and if there are any instances where we find that an engineer is not working safely, we take appropriate action to remedy this.”

A week after our meter was read, another person came round to read it again to check it had been read properly. I did check with the gas company that this person was legit.

So, how many of these inspections are just checking meter readings rather than work done on a boiler?

Member
derek thomas says:
24 August 2015

tip of the iceberg
unfortunately some engineers are more knowledgeable than others mainly from lack of experience
now they have brought out experience of working so many hours with an experienced engineer things should get better,
going on training courses with boiler manufacturers like vaillant baxi worcester and many more gives you a good insight of how boilers work as well as how to take these boilers to pieces and fault find,
i know this adds more cost to training but what manufacturers charge is very little, as to the vast knowledge you gain.
some engineers are only in this type of work for the money which is not huge,
passing your courses does not make you a gas engineer only experiences over time.
some companies think because you have these qualifications you are experienced,
i have seen people come out of these course and put straight on to gas work and struggle,
one instance where two engineers working together not long passed their courses fitted a modulating gas valve to a boiler which was non modulating ,there was no wires to connect to the modulating gas valve and they went away and left it like it without informing anyone,
(i changed it to the correct valve),
there was manuals there they never bothered to read it,
one of these engineers later got fired for leaving a boiler with holes in the casing letting products of combustion into the room, he worked for a major company not mentioned in your report,
hse were involved,
this incident was in the last three years,
the gas industry within the last few years has started using mandatory use of flue gas analysers when servicing condensing boilers,
while in the commercial sector we have been using flue gas analysers for many years ,
it is a good way of telling when a boilers has good combustion or not alongside other tests,
but taking a boiler apart as well as carrying out the necessary checks and manufacturers instructions and being allowed the time to do this,
which quite a lot of companies dont allow especially when attending breakdowns,
there non qualified managers set the times allowed for each job,
not all companies are like this ,
but quite a few i have worked for,

Member
alan says:
24 August 2015

I’ve just had an annual inspection by engineer sent by Home Energy Services. It took 17 minutes, and the case never came off the boiler.

Have asked for their comments

Member

I’ve today received Which? mag with the full report (plus another PO rubber band to add to my collection.). It appears that 10 boiler “engineers” only were summoned and 80% left potentially dangerous boilers due to inadequate work.

On such an investigation with such potentially serious consequences why did Which? not then extend the testing to a much larger sample to see how significant such results were? They would then have a much more powerful case to get “authorities” to take real action. Cost? 10 engineers = £900 + expert’s time – about the same as one extra large TV (see p 70). So do 50 tests.

As it is, Which? seem to have simply passed this back to the Gas Safe Register who “are looking into the registered businesses to inspect their work”. This is Capita – how much money will they spend doing this “looking into” I wonder. Since they are responsible for operating the scheme it is, perhaps, Capita who should be investigated.

Which quote each of the firms involved getting the usual brush-off replies “very concerned”, “take this extremely seriously”, “we service hundreds of thousands of boilers a year safely” (how do they know?).

Which? then tell us how to monitor the service “engineer” who should talk us through his work. How many will do this, let alone understand it? We rely on their “accredited” competence

I’m sorry Which? but from what you’ve published on such a potentially serious matter it is a poor piece of work. If you’ve uncovered what could be a widespread problem you should have put much more work into it to demonstrate a clear failing – and then pushed for real action – before publishing.

What are you now doing to follow up this investigation?

Oh, and please don’t devalue the honourable profession of “engineer” by applying it to incompetent service operatives 🙂

Member
Peter Lythgoe says:
26 August 2015

A number of years ago our boiler was condemned by the service engineer for not drawing properly. As we were building an extension the boiler was changed as part of that work, however the new boiler would not function and the installing engineer brought another one the following day. This also would not work so he called out the manufacturers engineer who identified low burner pressure as the problem. This turned out to be a partially blocked pipe in the footway outside the house. The blockage was caused by an incomplete hole cut in the mains pipe, and had existed for some 18 years since the houses had been built.

Our existing boiler had been serviced every year by Scottish Gas and obviously not once had he checked the burner pressure, had there been the correct pressure then maybe the draw could have been sufficient. Coupled with the fact that the installing engineer left a leak which caused £3,000.00 of damage and Scottish Gas only responded to a solicitors letter, they no longer provide any services to us whatsoever.

Member
Harry Hawksworth says:
26 August 2015

Some 14 years ago, we had a Vaillant boiler installed by a local heating engineer. The following year, the heating engineer came and did a free boiler service as part of the installation deal. From then onwards, we asked Homeserve to look after our boiler servicing via yearly renewable contracts, the work being done by Vaillant Engineers. Over the following 11 years or so everything appeared to go Ok including the repairing of 2 or 3 break downs over that period. Last September, the engineer turned up do to the annual maintenance. This Engineer was from a different area. When he had completed the boiler service, he told me that the boiler flue terminal was too close to the roof and should be at least 18″ above the roof tiles and said that this needed to be dealt with urgently. I replied that a stream of Vaillant engineers had serviced the boiler over 11 years and not one had pointed this out. He made no comment on this but said that it was incorrectly installed. I could not get the original installer back on site, as he had moved away and then passed away, so I got another local engineer to do the work at a cost of £850. The installing engineer said not only was the flue incorrectly installed but was the wrong flue for that boiler!
I tried to claim out of pocket cost from Homeserve but they would not accept liability on Vaillant’s behalf though I did get some ‘ex-gratia’ payment from them leaving me £200 out of pocket.
The engineer who replaced the flue also found that the boiler had not been maintained properly and needed some replacement parts which, credit where due, Homeserve did pay for. Because I felt that the boiler was potentially unsafe over this 11 year periodand had been overlooked by a number of vaillant engineers, I reported the matter to Gas-Safe but, they were not interested.
I have now told Homeserve and Vaillant that I don’t want to see another vaiilant engineer within 50 yards of my property. I would welcome a comment from Which please.

Member
James Davis says:
27 August 2015

As an experienced Gas installer, servicing and breakdown engineer I find it unacceptable that the level of servicing has not been met by the companies investigated by Which?

I feel it gives other companies and service engineers a bad name along with programmes like Rouge Traders.

I work for a company called “South Coast Boiler Services Ltd” and we actually do a lot of work for Corgi Homeplan who came out top in the investigation. We are also a Which? Approved traders.

I would like to point out that although the investigation proves otherwise, there are genuine traders out there that provide a good service.

It does also depend on the individual engineer and their experience. I know engineers that have been Gas Safe registered for over 30 years that have mainly carried out installation work so are not as familiar with servicing and breakdown work and therefore may miss the faults highlighted in the report.

They would have covered the basics in their training but in my opinion I would not want a Gas Safe engineer without at least 6 years experience in servicing and breakdown work servicing my boiler.

The current course takes 4 years if done via an apprenticeship but what a lot of consumers don’t realise is that not all Gas Safe engineers have completed an apprenticeship and that fast track courses are available.

A fast track course takes a matter of weeks. After that time you will be Gas Safe registered and can legally carry out Gas work. I cannot believe that these courses are available. I think it is dangerous to say the least that someone can enter a customers home with little or no practical experience and carry out Gas work. The government needs to put a stop to this but I’d imagine nothing will happen until someone gets blow up as the government are happy for the extra revenue for now.

I would be interested to know how many of the engineers completed a full apprenticeship.

Member

It would be useful if the Gas Safe register of installers and repair/servicing operatives, showing details of their training and experience, and their qualifications with dates, were publicly available. As you say, someone who has spent most of their time doing gas plumbing and connexions to gas cookers might be out of date on modern boilers and unfamiliar with manufacturers’ latest models. It looks to me as though there is a need for a two-stage registration process [or three stages if an apprenticeship is included as I think it should be]. I should be surprised if a 12-week training course provides sufficient experience but it can nevertheless result in registration that means the operative can work on gas boilers, apparently without any requirement for supervision, or probationary period, or subsequent inspection. I believe it also means they can certify that the work they have done is compliant.

It seems there is a national shortage of registered gas workers running into the tens of thousands [depending on which estimate you believe]. Training providers compete to offer the quickest and lowest-cost route to registration. I question whether this approach is conducive to a proper safety system.

Member
Jonathan M says:
31 August 2015

I wanted to write to you regarding a potential Safety flaw of New boilers. They are generally regarded as very safe, perhaps too safe, by some Engineers:

The thing is at the top of a boiler are two tubes with caps on. One is a safety valve for pressure overload and the other which is called the analyser test point is for the engineer to use to measure the composition of the waste gases and hence the boiler efficiency. So once you take the cap off the analyser test point tube and operate the boiler it will start leaking waste gases such as carbon monoxide, now that is ok if the engineer is measuring the gases but what about if he forgets to replace the cap?

Couldn’t happen? Think again:

My mother’s boiler is situated in an alcove and quite high up and the test point analyser tube is not visible from the ground.

My mother, 85, had the misfortune of inhaling poisonous fumes from a new boiler from when it was fitted in October 2010 to when I suspected it was leaking in Nov 2013, that is for 3 years. I called out the gas emergency who confirmed it was leaking gas from the top when in operation and I called my mother’s insurance the next day who sent an engineer who found that the analyser test point cap was off.

When I called the engineer who had serviced our boiler those 3 times, the most recent a month ago, to complain to him, his main concern was why we hadn’t called him first. Also in his defence he claimed that he didn’t use the analyser test point to check the gas, eventually he apologised and offered us £100 compensation.

Now my mother had been having terrible headaches, loss of appetite/nausea and fatigue for a long time and we had seen specialists who couldn’t find anything and when we thought about it these symptoms stretched back to about the time of the boiler installation. A colleague of his had installed the boiler because he was too busy.

So The boiler was leaking for 3 years because the original Installer, had forgot to replace the analyser test point cap. And the other engineer who by his own admission did not use this point to measure the waste gases, did not notice that the cap was off each time he serviced the boiler.

Also we did not suspect the boiler for my mother’s symptoms because we believed the engineer that “New boilers have positive pressure and can’t leak” and he also said we did not need a CO detector.

Fortunately, my mother has now made a full recovery. We complained to Gas Safe first and then checkatrade. Gas Safe decided they didnt need to visit as the fault had already been fixed I dont know what Gas Safe did but they didnt ask for proof of my Mother’s conditions and the engineers were obviously still in business as they rubbished my complaints later on on checkatrade.

Anyway if any good could come out of my mother’s experience, so that this could not happen to anyone else and it would also protect the Engineer, at the end of an Installation or Service a photo should be taken of the analyser test point tube and signed by the engineer and the customer. I already suggested this to Gas Safe.

And an improvement to boiler design would be for the analyser test point tube to have a valve so that even if you leave the cap off it wont leak. I guess I should be campaigning about this on social media, when I master how to use it.

I think leaving the cap off is something that is so incredibly negligent it should never happen, a bit like a surgeon cutting off the wrong leg, but it did happen to my mum and the engineers’ responsible were Gas Safe registered and had glowing references on Checkatrade. So I think everyone should know about this potential dangerous weakness of new boilers.

PS
I was speaking to a Gas engineer sent to service my boiler and I told him about what happened to my mother and he said her life was saved by 4 factors 1) the boiler is so efficient that the waste gases would be at a very low concentration 2) that the kitchen door was always open and 3) that the kitchen’s sash windows were not air tight and 4) there was a window right by the boiler that we couldn’t shut properly.

Furthermore there is a bitter irony about this because my mother is a German Jewish Refugee and managed to escape Hitler’s Gas Chambers only to be nearly Gassed to death in her own home!

Member

That is a worrying story. Many boilers are installed in high positions and in other places where it is not possible to see whether the test point tube safety cap is in place. Have the manufacturers and the HSE been informed of this problem that depends for safety on the installer and subsequent service engineers remembering to replace the safety cap? Given the fallibility of the human memory this is an unacceptable design flaw. There must be a way of providing a fail safe closure of the tube, or at the very least an audible warning signal [like a whistle] to indicate that the tube remains open. A mechanical or electrical interlock to prevent ignition would be better. This reinforces the need to have a carbon monoxide warning alarm positioned in the same area as a gas boiler. Modern houses can be almost airtight and often have very little ventilation when people close windows and doors on leaving the property.

Member

Is this a problem only with new boilers? When my 19 year old free standing boiler was installed I noticed a smell of gas on each ignition. I have had this checked by various engineers who assured me this was normal and not dangerous. I do have a carbon monoxide detector in situ next to the boiler but have often wondered whether these detect gas leakage as well as carbon monoxide which cannot be smelt anyway. If only the latter then there is a need for a device to detect gas leakage also, particularly in elderly peoples homes since Jonathans 85 year old mum`s ability to smell would be somewhat diminished as part of the ageing process.

A few years ago I recall a very faint smell of gas when walking past a house where an elderly person lived and very foolishly failed initially to report it. It was during a visit from my son and daughter-in-law when walking past this house my daughter-in-law noticed the same smell of gas. I reported it next day and engineers came out immediately to investigate where they identified a gas leak coming from a vent on the footpath. The elderly lady had not smelt the gas when entering and exiting her house, which illustrates the necessity of a gas detector device in all homes where elderly people live.

Member

If interested, more info re the effects of ageing on smell and taste can be found @ ageingcare.com – Problems with Sense of Smell in the Elderly.

Member

It is a Building Regulations requirement that smoke alarms are fitted in all new properties and those let out but there is no requirement to fit a carbon monoxide alarm where a gas boiler is installed and gas detector alarms are never mentioned [the assumption being that our noses will alert us – as Beryl says, an unreliable presumption]. I have never seen gas alarms on sale alongside Smoke and CO alarms. I have never heard of the fire brigade assisting with the fitting of gas detectors.

In a house closed for several days a small build-up of gas can easily lead to a dreadful fire – it can be activated by the simple switching-on of the light as the tiny spark from the electrical contact ignites the gas [some light switches are worse for this than others]. Luckily it doesn’t happen very often but every year there are cases of houses being destroyed by gas explosions. The media never seem to follow up these stories after the immediate sensational reporting and tell us what the investigators found out about the cause. It might emerge if there is a fatality and the inquest is reported. Vulnerable people living on their own are at greater risk since they are more likely to keep all their doors and windows closed for warmth and have a tendency to cover air-bricks and other openings. They might also have old gas fires and cookers that are prone to a flame blow-out due to a sudden draught that then leaves gas escaping.

Member

If confirmation is needed re diminishing sense of smell in the elderly more can be found @ ageingcare.com – Problems with Sense of Smell in the Elderly. It apparently starts at age 60!
Are gas engineers aware of this when training and told to be extra vigilant when servicing elderly peoples boilers?

Member

It’s disappointing that the manufacture of hobs and gas fires without flame-failure devices continued long after these safety features were incorporated into gas boilers. Anyone with elderly relatives should think about having these appliances replaced.

Gas detectors are not uncommon where LPG is in use, for example caravans, portable buildings and boats. LPG more dense than domestic gas and may accumulate at low level, particularly in confined spaces. I have no idea whether gas detectors are available for use with domestic gas.

Member
D Clayton says:
1 September 2015

Comments above suggest all is not well in this industry. A practical suggestion would be to read the servicing booklet that comes with the boiler ,or contact the manufacturer for details of the appropriate procedure. for servicing. When requesting a service , ask whether the person who will attend , has completed a recent course for that particular appliance. Is there documentary evidence to show the person attended the course and actually undertook practical work? A proper check sheet should be completed and signed showing what was done and the qualification of the workman. Reluctance in the above areas would indicate the need to look elsewhere for service.

Member
Rob L says:
1 September 2015

Please don’t call them engineers. They’re technicians. Nothing wrong with that but they’re not engineers.
Spoken by a Charted Engineers (electrical).

Member

In my experience not all good professional engineers are chartered and most proper engineering technicians are more highly qualified than boiler service engineers.

But, like it or not, the term “service engineer” is widely used and understood.

Member

I regard them as service engineers or field service engineers and the Gas Safe Register refers to gas engineers, but irrespective of what they are called, the standard of workmanship has got to be satisfactory.

I am very disappointed that there is still no reference to the Which? investigation on the Gas Safe Register website.

Member

Anyone with a gas, oil or solid fuel appliance should have a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room. The alarm instructions will give information about where best to site it.

A carbon dioxide alarm would have alerted Jonathan M’s mother to her boiler being left in unsafe condition.

If you have a gas hob, beware of the small carbon monoxide detectors in the form of a plastic card with a spot that darkens if carbon monoxide is present. I have noticed these gradually darken in small kitchens with a gas hob, even if new or recently serviced. I have been told by a gas engineer that gas hobs produce a very small amount of carbon monoxide in normal use as a result of ‘flame chilling’, but this is not dangerous. A modern electronic alarm is a better option and like a smoke detector it will warn you immediately if there is a problem.

Member

High Wavechange – did you mean to say carbon dioxide in your second para – or carbon monoxide?

There was another near-tragedy today in Cornwall when a pensioner’s home was destroyed in a gas explosion. Luckily he was pulled out alive and the fire was reported as a small one, but he is in intensive care and the blast was catastrophic. No cause has been reported yet but it once again reminds us of how vital it is to make gas safe at all times..

Member

It should read “A carbon dioxide alarm would have alerted…” I’m glad that someone is concentrating.

Member

I mean: “A carbon MONOXIDE alarm would have alerted…” I’m looking forward to being able to edit my mistakes.

Member

So am I. I wouldn’t have called you “High Wavechange” if I had been able to rectify it.

Member

I thought getting high would require more exotic vapours than either CO or CO2…

Member

🙂 Meanwhile back on topic, I wonder why Which? tests smoke alarms but not carbon monoxide alarms.

Member

You don’t need to go under cover. Talk to us engineers or salesmen if that’s what you want to call us . Most Htg engineers who work for companies would love to carry out there work to manufacturers instructions . And the numerous regulations . But the screw has been turned that much. I’m not surprised at your findings . Insurance . And energy companies have jumped on the heating band wagon over the years soaking up the market share of boiler servicing then subcontracting work out at £15 to £20 pound a service

Member

I recently moved to St Neots into a house where a Vaillant boiler had been installed several years ago. The information pack that came with the purchase showed that there was a gas safe certificate and that the boiler had been serviced about six weeks prior to me taking possession of the property.
Having moved from a house with a Vaillant boiler and having had Vaillant themselves carry out annual checks and service I was fully aware of the paperwork that Vaillant issue.
I became suspicious when there was no documentation and when the previous owners were asked for the documents they admitted to either losing them or they hadn’t received any. This worried me so Vaillant were contacted and asked to look at the boiler and carry out whatever work was necessary to ensure safe working of the appliance.
The engineer duly arrived spent 20 minutes looking over the installation and then told me he was going to close down the boiler as it was unsafe, the flue had not be installed correctly and the covers on the boiler, that need to be removed when carrying out a service, had never been taken off since installed. The engineer issued his official system shutdown document which I refused to sign as it would have left me without hot water or any heating. He agreed to not close down the system if I signed a disclaimer, which I agreed to provided there was no risk of dangerous gases escaping.
The Vaillant engineer then took it upon himself to contact the person who had signed the certificate to ask whether the manufacturers guidelines for serving Vaillant boilers had been followed, the guy admitted he had not read the guidelines, had not serviced the boiler as he hadn’t been trained and would do whatever Vaillant wanted to make the installation safe according to their guidelines.
The corrective work was carried out within 24 hours and duly signed off as acceptable. The message I would like to pass on is go to the manufacturer first and only use Gas Safe engineers that are familiar with the boiler.
In this case Vaillant went beyond what had been asked of them with their reasons being that there are too many unqualified gas fitters offering servicing and these give the industry a poor reputation.

Member

That’s a worrying tale. It shows the importance of prospective purchasers getting correct documentation for boiler servicing and other structural or electrical alterations to a property before exchange of contracts. On a purchase some years ago we forced the sellers to have the boiler serviced because they could not produce satisfactory evidence of a service which they claimed in the official pre-purchase enquiries had been carried during the previous twelve months. If there had been a service they would have been able t get the service contractor to confirm it or supply duplicate documents.

Member

I have kept a record of every annual boiler service since I moved into my present home. Evidence of this essential safety requirement should be included on the EPC before selling ones home.

Member

Which? have published a report on Boiler cover companies: “Each year we survey thousands of Which? members to find out which boiler cover companies keep their customers happy, and which are likely to leave you disappointed. ” This deals with servicing and repairs. In view of this conversation revealing sub-standard and potentially dangerous servicing, what account was taken of this in rating the companies involved?

Member

As a engineer in this industry, I have to come to the defence of all engineers. I work for one of the biggest commercial FM firms in the UK. The time constraint put on us on each job, puts us under pressure before we start. The client ( both home owner and commercial building manager ) try to get work done cheaper and cheaper. FM companies are cutting each other’s throats to get contracts with frankly, rubbish profits involved. This is passed down the line to us making us feel rushed even before we get to site. To compete we have to take on more and more disciplines with little to no training.

A typical week for me could involve going from changing a light bulb, unblocking a toilet, attending a commercial dishwasher breakdown, attending an air conditioning system breakdown or servicing a gas/oil appliance,. Along with reports of funny noises, strange smells, various leaks of gas, oil, water or compressed air coupled with my monthly site maintenance of meter readings, legionella checks, emergency lighting checks and checks of just about every applience on site is it no wonder customers get poor service. Not to mention 4 hour emergency response calls for lifts, revolving/automatic doors, car park barriers, intruder alarms, fire alarms that we’re expected to respond to

But hey, slate the engineer for not having specific knowledge about kit that he has no access to literature for on the road, is a nice headline for Which. Easy to put hidden “experts” behind the scenes who only deal with gas appliances/installations and probably have the luxury of Internet access to research 24/7, then let them tear some poor engineer to pieces without knowing his background. Shame on Which !!!

Member

Boy Ian, You let them have it.
What I see in this is that the tv adverts have as usual sold us something we dont need and more important something we dont actually want.
Back to my old theory that if they need to advertise it I dont need. And neither does anyone. The idea that that selling services and items that are not actually in order to keep the economy going is not in the least wise.
There are plenty of good projects that could eat up 1000s of workers.
Many years ago the Uk Gov set to work in Scotland with Hydro dams. Those dams have served us all very well and have outlived just about every other form of generation station installed since. Many at the time thought it was a waste of money just like solar and wind today and their effects on land and eco system have been nothing like the do gooders said they would
They have been brilliant pieces of British engineering and that lasted a lifetime and many have been refurbished and are expected to last as long again.
There are plenty of things that need done in this land of ours that would do some real good.
I’m rural so there is not much of this blanket, service, breakdown type cover around these parts.
For the concerned they call up the boiler guy who is local and known once a year usually in summer and have everything well serviced.
The same boiler guy spends the winter fixing the boilers that were not serviced for a couple of years.
I dont know anyone who services just about every appliance and although I have a broad range of knowledge I have the good sense to agree with you wholeheartedly in your frustration with being complained about
I know the user/customer is sold on this type of contract but its time they knew that specialising in boilers alone needs a van full of stuff. To try and cover every problem is lunacy.
Near every consumer bit of research suggests that taking insurance out on appliances is a waste of money so how can boiler and appliance cover be any different.
Under such pressure ever engineer will simply do as little as he can to get him out the door. That is not service, that is not maintenance.
I had experience of this British concept of swapping trades.
I worked for a company who needed engineers/companies to install machines.
We had builders who thought because there was a concrete base they could do it
We had telephone engineers who thought they could do it because they somehow thought they could do it
We had just about every trade under the sun and our company took all comers.
Ii conducted the training which was a two day course
I found guys texting below the table
I found guys dozing off
Worse still I trained guys who after-ward went no further than their office and sent rank amatuers out to site
I went to France to find a team of sewer pipe engineers working at our machines. Their vehicles were full of plastic pipe fittings
I found builders had installed electrical items
There was just about nothing that did not happen
All repeat ALL of these guys in the UK were reg approved under Gov regulation. The Standard, the testing was a joke. Someone serious about the thing might have been okay but most were just there to get in on the latest thing.
The industry more or less ended up a disaster and personally I ended up with bad heath and would have been better never there. It took two years of head hunting for me to give in and go there.
There are still machines running and will be for some time and most of those machines are maintained by their owner/operators and many of those machines perform well but they are maintained, they are looked at.
In many other countries trades men/journeymen are qualified for their post and the Gov bodies approve them. There is non of this jumping around to where the next big buck is.
Solar PV is another example many will know about where firms start up disappear just as quickly. They were yet again all experts, all with years of experience. Were did they get this experience. There were 1000s of experts within about one year. Impossible, simple.
Just try leaving here as a plumber and try to get a job as a heating engineer in Canada. You’ll have trouble enough being a plumber and if you want to be a heating engineer you’ll do your time, the full time, the full school courses etc.

Member

Just to clarify, Ian, are you an Engineer or a Technician?

Member

Hi Ian.

My title is a Gas Service Engineer. That’s what my employer says my job is called. I’ve also been a Maintenance Technician, the same roles but different titles. We’re also called Field Engineers, Gas Technicians, Gas Operives etc.

To me it matters not. To you it shouldn’t matter either. To some snobs its an opportunity to look down their noses at others. You may be a Chartered Engineer, all you need to know is if I happen to be looking after the care home where your mum/dad are, I will do everything I can do to make them warm and safe.

I used to have murders every year at this time. My now ex partner, used to accuse me of having affairs when I was working late. The truth was, not having any grandparents left I used to make sure I looked after everyone else’s. 14 hour days were commonplace and 16/17 hours weren’t unusual.

Those old people didn’t care what my role was called.

Member

Thank you, Ian, and I’m not wishing to denigrate you or your role in any way. My concern is simply about perception. Engineering is a profession, with the same training length requirements, the same demands and the same intellectual requirements as Medicine, Astrophysics or Law. It’s a four/five year University course before you can start in work as an Engineer, then further research and publications before you can gain Chartership as an Engineer. This is nothing to do with snobbishness: it’s to do with identifying and differentiating the Professional who designs and regulates Gas flow through advanced fluid dynamics mathematics training from the chap who replaces some parts in a boiler. The boiler technician can be equally as caring and devoted as the Mechanical Engineer; more so, in fact, since the Mechanical Engineer rarely meets the individual whose lives depend on his knowledge, experience and training, but Engineering is a profession.

Member

Personally I don’t draw the line that the use of the word “Engineer” must be restricted to “Chartered Engineers”. My employer does not either and a large number of my Suitably Qualified and Experienced colleagues are given job titles that include the word “Engineer”.

This includes a number of colleagues who are Chartered Physicists and hold PhDs in astronomy / astrophysics. I don’t think we have any “medics” in Engineering roles but we do certainly have colleagues with law degrees, for example, to help run the management of our supply chains.

We do encourage our graduate recruits to gain Chartership with appropriate institutions but we do not operate with any kind of “glass ceilings” above which individuals must be Chartered.

My personally background is that I a have an Engineering Degree but have never wanted to pursue Chartertered Status because it has never really been either important or very useful for the fields where I have worked.

Member

I agree. I see little difference between Engineer and Chartered Engineer, the only difference being that Char5tered are allowed to operate as self employed specialists. “Chartered Physicist” is new to me however.

Member

Ian / All – in the last few decades, many British institutions have gained Royal Charters so they can confer “chartered status” on their members.

As regards whether or not one might be a professional engineer (or scientist or mathematician, etc.) Wikipedia quotes this definition “A profession is a vocation founded upon specialised educational training, the purpose of which is to supply disinterested objective counsel and service to others, for a direct and definite compensation, wholly apart from expectation of other business gain”

I so I think that includes doing right by your clients or customers, rules out “up-selling” and does not require your work to be only “white-collar” / office-based.

Member

I’ve checked out Chartered Physicist and it requires a Masters at the very least. I suspect one main difference is in the level of education required. A master’s degree confers a high level of knowledge and disinterest in a subject, so it seems the epithet ‘Professional’ is appropriate only in someone with a higher degree.

This a thorny issue, since there are no higher degrees in Woodworking, for example, yet a skilled joiner can provide invaluable and disinterested advice. And many would regard a joiner as a profession, surely?

Member

Dee You have just summed up the change in UK industry a lot because of politics over the past 40 years of bring down heavy industry and other industries in this country. Call them “obsolete ” out of date etc bring in the service industry of MacDonalds and co. 10, of 1000,s of apprenticeships lost of every description but hey ! it serves a political end . What have we got now ,according to the many emails from tech and engineering organizations I get the UK industry is “Crying out ” for engineers of every description can they get them ??? can they -ell ! 1000,s of qualified engineers are required and I am not talking computer engineers . So what does the government do ? make it easier to obtain “credentials ” to “qualify ” people to work on equipment gone are 5 year apprenticeships /years knowledge gained over decades thrown out /binned people like myself who are qualified in several engineering /electrical/electronic repair occupations dumped because of “New Age ” thinking ” -aka- dont think OBEY !. No attempt to pass on knowledge of 50 years or more -goodbye=cheerio-its been “good to know you ” how can young people learn from that basis not just basic knowledge but inbuilt over years of work.??

Member

Good man Duncan. Bring back trades Bring back social housing and dont sell them. Get rid of the hoards of managers in the NHS. Dont tell me they are needed because I dont begin to believe that they save anything. Save my foot. The old style system could not have overspent to the tune of these wages if they’d have tried.
Yeh a lifetime of experience, A lifetime of being requested to train and retrain move sideways and specialise to move with the times
I remember selling my LR business and an employee made comment about me having forgot more than the next lot will every learn.
This is the biggest BS system that we have now. Buy everything in. Rely on the London markets and the spin off’s. Allow those super rich to pay near no tax and in some cases no tax at all.
When we go who will answer the questions.

Member

I hear a lot of bleating about “shortages of qualified engineers” but, mostly, I think these are really just shortages of money.

Qualified engineers expect to earn good wages. Any employers complaining about “skill shortages” should try “putting their money where their mouth is” and offering decent salaries and working conditions.

Member

What I am getting at although reading back it is not obvious because I seen parallels with the problems I was having is that I cannot believe that an engineer/technician should not be ask to be an expert in boiler’s, washers, dish washers, dryers and general everything.
Even if you had a broad range of knowledge the amount of tools and equipment required is into lorry scale of operations.
I imagined that the businesses involved would have differing trades that specialised in their own trade
Yes one can move/stretch a little but not this lot that Ian is telling us.
That is an uphill battle and is not his fault whether he is an engineer or technician has nothing to do with it. It’s too big an ask.
There are some of these domestic items that one is supposed to be qualified in and I imagined that first you need to serve your time as a plumber before you do your ticket for unvented cylinder work
I imagined that to work at boilers and there are a few variations you would need to have served your time on such before you would attempt to get your ticket on those or is the UK so lax that one just does a bit of night school and away we go and work at these items.
Many of these things today if not maintained properly are a threat to live and limb
Boilers especially these modern in room are a hazard unless kept properly
Electrical certainly requires knowledge and experience.
Unvented cylinders can turn into a steam bomb although most unlikely but possible nevertheless.
I’m not hitting on Ian or any other of these engineers but where have all the mutli skilled people came from. To be an expert in two or three fields is a big task even for those interested in devoting their life to work let alone just about everything with a pipe or wire on it. I know, I done, It d****d near killed me in the end.
Ian probably has a family and finds himself in a position he doesnt like by the looks of it and if these guys are expected to work on everything to get their wage then they are just being manipulated to provide a service for near nothing to keep the biggies in business.
Just like the supermarkets and the vegetable growers
The customer doesnt care because its cheap.
The likes of Ian, farmers, and those using carparks need to all go on strike. Plough the crops back in, let the boilers go to h****.
Oh I forgot we have all fallen for the great idea of having a mortgage and supposed home ownership, we cant do that.
Mort gage
Death Grip
They have us where they want us but we dont even know who “they” it seems are.

Member

Hi Dee.

You hit the nail on the head. Multi skilled means diluted skills. Not a problem for me as I have 30+ years experience. A newly qualified apprentice is a danger to himself and others, despite being tested and passing the relevant exams. My colleague recently was asked to look at a commercial dishwasher which wasn’t dosing detergent. I heard him say he wasn’t confident about the job to our supervisor, who, basicly told to go have a pop at it.
Result, he thought the tube was blocked, he thought the detergent was like Fairy washing up liquid so he blew through the tube. It wasn’t Fairy, it was caustic and he burnt his lips. Embarrassed by his error, he never reported it. Unreported errors can’t have measures put in place to prevent it happening to someone else. That’s what’s happening out in the real world, engineers getting by, by the skin of their teeth.

Member

I think that proves the point I was making. An Engineer would have known about the caustic solvent, since that would have been a major part of his course. Because repair technicians have to have a very wide remit, it’s incumbent on the management to have warned the individuals about the potential risks, but with so many different appliances to service they only acquire the knowledge necessary through painful experiences. He was lucky he only got mild lip burns.

Member

Also, a properly trained and experienced engineer would have known:

The right way to turn down an assignment that he (or she) was not content to carry out unaided and untutored.

Member

Well it comes down to “time” or rather lack of it again. My company puts a huge emphasis on safety and training. A lot of that training involves being given a sheet of A4 with a safety advisory on, signing for it and BAM, we have now trained your for that particular item.

If we slowed down, my colleague could have read the safety advice on the bottle that was dosing the dishwasher. When your stressed/rushed you aren’t thinking properly. Companies are willing to look the other way in order to get the job done. As an example, a few years ago the company I was with, another national well known company, we’re falling behind on gas boiler services for a well known chain of pubs. They got sub contractors in to catch up. The pubs were sited far and wide, for me 2 a day was possible. Our sub contractor was managing 5/6. How ? By attending site and writing our a safety sheet without checking anything.
Our management knew how many they were doing and therefore knew it wasn’t possible, but, turned a blind eye because it suited their needs. When our bosses are asking us to falsify documents you know your on you own. Again, the client is completely unaware of what we’re up against.

Member

Ian, I agree. As long as everything is done dirt cheap. It’ll not matter how many pieces paper is brought into the system.
We have tick boxes at every corner and all happens is that they get ticked before or after the work.
The health service is full of this stuff. Everything that goes wrong gets another sheet to fill out or box to tick.
No one has time and when they are not ticked the employees end up in the office. Answer. Tick everything because it wont be checked anyhow
Tick boxes, completion sheets and the many other seemingly well meaning efforts are a waste of time. Those who think this nonsense up have no idea of reality or they do not care as long as they can show they put a procedure in place and all the procedures have been shown to be followed. It doesnt matter a hoot whether the work was done or done right or no done at all just as long as the sheets are present and correct
As to idea’s that one has a choice about what one does many employees have no choice. Many have kids and a mortgage and the hard nosed managers know that.
This is where we find ourselves. I watched these type of things take place. The employees had no choice.
I conducted training. I had no choice about who were presented. I had 2 days too teach people who had not a clue about what they had got into. Pointless and I’m glad it near finished me and I walked away.
Bring back time served trades.