You need some work done on your old boiler and so you call in the same chap who installed it twelve years ago. He’s a friendly, reliable old fellow and was recommended to you when you first bought your property more years ago than you care to remember. Since then, he has done all sorts of maintenance work for you.
He is obviously a handy guy to know, but is he Gas Registered?
Does it matter?
Well yes. If he is not Gas Registered, his work could put you and your household in danger and he is almost certainly acting in contravention of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and amendments.
The Gas Safe register was set up by the government in 2009 (2010 in Northern Ireland) with the approval of the Health and Safety Executive and is administered by the private company Capita PLC on their behalf. It replaced the well-known and trusted CORGI initiative and is now the only official registration scheme for gas installers and maintenance engineers in the United Kingdom. Capita PLC holds the contract for ten years.
In order to be Gas Safe registered, a gas engineer needs to be competent.
That competency is obtained by the engineer completing a variety of industry specific courses and obtaining qualifications recognised by Gas Safe.
Registration does not automatically confer on an engineer the authority to work on any gas maintenance procedure. The engineer may only carry out gas work procedures on the specific tasks that the engineer has successfully trained for and is qualified to undertake. The specific areas of competency are printed on the reverse of the engineer’s personal Gas Safe photo identity card.
Businesses that undertake gas installation and maintenance work are also usually Gas Safe registered and receive certification to confirm their status. Along with the individual registration of their employees, this extra evidence enhances their commitment to gas safety and the professionalism of their business.
Gas Safe registered companies and individuals are allowed to use the Trade Mark ‘Gas Safe Register’ brand and have access to a wide range of benefits to enable them to enhance their businesses and promote Gas Safe engineering work.
Engineers must renew their registration annually to continue working legally. Gas Safe regularly inspects the work of registered engineers to check and maintain the high standards of workmanship it expects from them.
Although Gas Safe have managed to raise awareness of the potential dangers involved in having gas engineering tasks undertaken by unregistered operators, the problem still exists. Registered engineers are often called in to remedy the faults and inadequacies that emerge following rogue gas engineering work.
In many cases, householders have succumbed to the financial savings that rogue operators can offer them. Unfortunately, when things go wrong or the unauthorised work is discovered and has not been installed in accordance with current safety or building regulations, the cost of rectifying the faults can be considerably higher than if a registered engineer had undertaken the job initially.
There are also rogue operators who manage to get round the registration requirements by undertaking gas engineering tasks and then getting a registered engineer to complete any necessary paperwork. This of course is illegal but such operators are very good at bluffing attempts by householders to obtain a verification of legitimacy and competency by viewing their registration cards.
Many of these rogue operators can seem very convincing. They often display the Gas Safe logo on their vehicles and paperwork.
In some situations, and faced with the tough economic climate, householders can be tempted to undertake gas maintenance procedures themselves. There are some suitable procedures that are basic and these are often outlined in the relevant appliance handbooks. The law is a little opaque when comes to appliance owners working on their gas appliances. There are areas within boiler housings that are of a plumbing and electrical nature and repairs to those areas might fall within the capability of the householder.
However, many room sealed gas boilers are indeed sealed, and breaking the seal to remove the boiler housing is likely to pose a danger to house occupants following an unprofessional repair and re-assemble.
In general, DIY is not a good idea. It would be very difficult to try to justify saving a bit of money if things subsequently went wrong and other occupants living in the property were put at risk or killed as a result.
Incompetent work undertaken on gas appliances can have catastrophic consequences for those unfortunate enough to be exposed to it. Explosion can wreak devastation on considerably more than just the householder and his property. Whole streets can be wrecked or demolished by incorrectly installed gas appliances. Within the home, loved ones lives can be cut short by the escape of lethal carbon monoxide fumes from badly installed boilers and heaters.
To avoid unnecessary risks, always check to ensure that a gas engineer has a valid Gas Safe Register photo identity card. Ask to see it and check the card to ensure that the engineer is qualified and competent to undertake the work you require doing.
Remember ”No card, no work!”
In fact, to be really sure you can check the legitimacy of the engineer’s identity and card details online on the Gas Safe Registration website immediately if you have internet access, or by phoning 0800 408 5500.
If you suspect there may be a problem with an engineer’s registration, or lack of it, or you have reason to suspect a registered engineer’s work might not be up to scratch, you should contact Gas Safe who will investigate any problems. They will also inspect any Gas Safe registered engineer’s work free of charge if you request them to.
If the chap you have known for years who usually maintains your boiler and also does other maintenance jobs cannot provide you with a visible validation of competency in the form of a Gas Safe identity card, it would be wiser and safer to leave any gas maintenance and installation tasks to someone suitably qualified.