/ Home & Energy

Gas Safety Week 2021: tell us your stories

We’re supporting Gas Safety Week once again. Do you have a story to tell about unsafe work and installations? Let us know in the comments.

As you may remember from our Which? Conversation in 2018, Gas Safety Week is an annual event coordinated by the Gas Safe Register, the official body for gas safe engineers in the UK.

The purpose of the week is to make people aware of the potential dangers of having unsafe gas appliances in their homes and how they can correctly take care of their appliances.

Did you know approximately two thirds of illegal gas work inspected by the Register has been found to be unsafe?

When left unchecked and not serviced by a qualified heating and gas engineer, gas appliances can pose life-threatening risks such as gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning and, in some instances, fires or even explosions.

Your stories

We want to hear your stories where you have had illegal or unsafe installations in your home. What happened/went wrong? How was the situation resolved?

In 2018 when we called for your stories on DIY disasters, an engineer told us:

“I was called out to fix an oil boiler after a guy had tried to install it himself. Every wire had been disconnected in an attempt to make it work.

I have been called out so many times to faulty heating systems where the customer has tried to fix it themselves. It always ends up costing them more.

We often see gas pipework with the incorrect fittings, and electric showers with no earthing. Both are potentially very dangerous”

Which? Trusted Traders is encouraging businesses to pledge their support for Gas Safety Week this year and be part of the campaign to help keep the nation and local communities safe.

Have you ever had a problem with low-quality/unsafe gas work being carried out in your home? Let us know what happened in the comments.

Comments

The purpose of the week is to make people aware of the potential dangers of having unsafe gas appliances in their homes and how they can correctly take care of their appliances.

It would be useful if Which? explained just how this safety week will be used to increase people’s awareness. I confess to being cynical about such “awareness” events and the plethora of World ###Days that appear to do little. Or perhaps there is evidence that they do have a worthwhile and positive effect?

In 2018 1000 free CO alarms were given out by Trusted Traders along with gas safety information. What resulted from that?

Seeing this new Conversation reminded me to put a note in my diary about when my next boiler service is due.

Be aware of British Gas Service. They have cancelled our service appointment 3 times.
OK, so they refunded our charge, but no offer of another date.
For BG, what price safety?

The picture doesn’t look like a gas installation.

I also wondered about it. The image is much foreshortened and I assumed the plastic pipe in the foreground might be the condensate outflow and the one behind it the mains water inflow. No sign of the incoming gas pipe [unless it is the copper pipe behind the person’s second knuckle on his forefinger] or the central heating circuit’s flow and return pipes.

The law in Scotland changes from February 2022, making interlinked smoke/heat/CO alarms mandatory in all homes.
Why is there no mention of this on Which?, and why don’t the reviews for alarms mention compliance (or even have filters for interlink functionality on tested products)?
Every household in Scotland impacted, but zero coverage on Which?

Thanks for that. Here are the requirements in Scotland: https://www.gov.scot/publications/fire-and-smoke-alarms-in-scottish-homes/

This Which? article briefly mentions the benefits of interlinked alarms but I agree that this should be highlighted: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/smoke-alarms/article/how-to-place-and-maintain-smoke-alarms-acfj33X4xOUj

It would be helpful if Gas Safe engineers would explain the benefits of interlinked alarms when servicing boilers etc. and maybe leave information for the householder.

“It would be helpful if Gas Safe engineers would … maybe leave information for the householder.”

Given the very low cost of a basic CO alarm, Gas Safe engineers should be required to install one for free during a maintenance visit if not already present, or test and replace batteries in an existing installation if necessary.

Look at it as an investment. At least the customer will be there next year.

Here is advice from Which? about carbon monoxide alarms: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/12/top-5-carbon-monoxide-alarm-tips-for-winter/

The point about replacing CO alarms after the specified number of years is important because they can become less sensitive.

I have 11 interlinked smoke alarms which are mains powered with battery back up, and if one goes off so do all the rest. The one problem I’ve had with them so far is when one alarm fails and goes off needlessly it’s difficult to find out which one is causing the problem as the faulty one has to be isolated from the rest. You have to isolate them from their mains supply, you should have a separate fused spur for that with a 3 amp fuse in it, and then get the stepladder out and take them down one by one until you find the faulty one. And so far I’ve got lucky and got the right one first time as it was the bedroom one where I have my toaster and I think the toasting fumes must have affected it, and I’ve had two fail in that position so far, but not for a long while now, but then I’ve not made any toast for a long while either. I also had one fail on my landing too. And carbon monoxide alarms usually have a built in counter that starts counting down once it’s powered for the first time and they usually last for about 7 years and then when that’s passed it won’t stop bleeping so it reminds you to replace it. And if you’re a landlord renting out properties then you have to fit smoke alarms, and CO alarms too if there’s gas appliances, with a permanently fitted lithium battery which usually lasts about 10 years.

Sophie says:
10 September 2021

I was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning several years ago. I was very disappointed with the response from Wales & West Utilities. The man who came out said I should not use my boiler until it had been checked and was emphatic that my gas cooker could not be the problem. He said he was not allowed to check for carbon monoxide emissions. When I bought a CO detector I found it was my cooker that was the problem, with very high levels of CO.

If carbon monoxide poisoning is diagnosed or suspected, all gas appliances must be tested, as explained on the Gas Safe Register’s website: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/gas-safety-in-the-home/get-your-appliances-checked/

I wish you had complained about the employee to the Gas Safe Register at the time, Sophie, even if they worked for Wales & West Utilities. Failing to take appropriate action is as serious as doing inadequate repairs. Anyone can report a problem online: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help-and-advice/complaints-report-an-illegal/gas-work-complaint/

If yellow flames can be seen, that will indicate that the gas is not burning properly and carbon monoxide is being produced. It’s important to have a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room as each gas, oil or solid fuel appliance.