Gas Appliances and Safety.





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The Problem

The answers

The Law

The danger signs

Using your water heater safely







The Problem:  

Every year some 30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances which have not been properly installed or maintained. When gas does not burn properly, excess carbon monoxide is produced, which is toxic.

You can not see it. You can not taste it. You can not even smell it. But carbon monoxide can kill without warning in just a matter of hours. You are particularly vulnerable when you are asleep.

The early symptoms of poisoning include tiredness, drowsiness, headache, pains in the chest and stomach pains.

You are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if:

    your appliance was poorly installed;

    your appliance is not working properly;

    your appliance has not been checked or maintained regularly;

    there is not enough fresh air in the room;

    your chimney or flue gets blocked up;

    you allow unqualified people to install or maintain your appliance.

There is a particular risk if you sleep in a room where an appliance, which is not of the room-sealed type, is left burning at night. (Flue outlets for room-sealed appliances are commonly located on an external wall at a low level protected by a cage rather than at or above roof level.).


The answers:

NEVER use a gas appliance if you think it is not working properly. Signs to look out for include yellow or orange flames, soot or stains around the appliance and pilot lights which frequently blow out.

NEVER cover an appliance or block the convection air vents.

NEVER block or obstruct any fixed ventilation grilles or air bricks.

NEVER block or cover outside flues.

CAUTION whenever draught exclusion, double glazing or a conservatory extension is fitted to a room containing a gas appliance, the appliance should subsequently be checked for safe operation.

All gas consumers are advised to have appliances checked for safety at least every 12 months by a CORGI registered installer.                                                                                                                                                         

The Law:

 The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1994 (as amended) place duties on gas consumers, installers, suppliers and landlords. Remember, for your own protection:

  • By law all businesses which carry out work on gas appliances must be registered with CORGI (the Council for Registered Gas Installers). Always check your installer is registered by asking to see a current CORGI registration certificate or ringing CORGI on 01256 372300;
  • By law only a competent person someone with the right knowledge and technical experience - can carry out work on gas appliances. Do-it-yourself work on gas appliances could be dangerous and illegal;
  • By law you must not use any gas appliance you know or suspect is not safe. Through CORGI, HSE has asked all registered installers to disconnect any gas appliance which is so dangerous as to be a threat to life if it is used. if your installer asks your permission to disconnect such an appliance it will be in the interests of your own safety, and that of others, to agree. Before you use this appliance again, have it repaired by a CORGI-registered installation business;
  • By law landlords are responsible in certain circumstances for making sure that appliances are maintained in good order and checked for safety at least every 12 months. They must also keep a record of the safety checks and issue it to the tenant. if you live in, or are about to move into , rented accommodation, your landlord must provide you with written proof of the safety checks. if you own the appliance, you are responsible for its maintenance and safety checks;   
  • By low, with the exception of the room-sealed type, there are   restrictions on the installation of gas appliances in sleeping accommodation. These restrictions apply only to appliances  fitted after 1 January 1996. Non room-sealed appliances of less than 14 kilowatts may be fitted as long as they have a device which automatically turns the gas supply off before a dangerous level of toxic fumes builds up. However, non room-sealed appliances above this threshold are prohibited in such accommodation. 

What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide is a gas which is highly poisonous both to people and animals. But it can be difficult to recognize because it has: no colour-no smell-no taste. If your appliances burn any fossil fuel such as gas, coal or oil, carbon monoxide can get into your home if they have not been fitted properly or serviced regularly.

Gas appliances need air too: Gas appliances need air to burn safely. With enough air, burning domestic fuels produce carbon dioxide and water in safe amounts. These products are normally taken away by a chimney or flue. However, if there is too little air, carbon monoxide can be produced. This can also happen if the chimney or flue is blocked or obstructed. Look out for the danger signs. If you ignore these, it could be fatal.


The danger signs:    

  • Stains, soot or discolouring around a gas fire or at the top of a gas water heater may mean that the flue or chimney is blocked.
  • The flame on your gas fire or water heater should not be yellow or orange.
  • There should not be a strange smell when the gas appliance is on. If you are at all worried about a gas appliance, take the advice in this leaflet and seek help. Do not delay and put yourself or others in danger.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: Symptoms are vague and can be similar to those caused by other illnesses-even a cold or flu. But if anyone in your house has any of the following symptoms after using a gas appliance, go to your doctor:

  • Unexplained headaches, chest pains, or muscular weakness

  • Sickness, diarrhoea or stomach pains

  • Sudden dizziness when standing up      

  • General lethargy. 

Stop using the appliance immediately and do not use it again until it has been checked by British Gas or another fitter registered with the Council for Registered Gas Installers (CORGI)

Water heaters: Most modern water heaters are room sealed. This means that waste products can not get into the room, However, some older water heaters with open flues still exit, particularly in rented accommodation.

Using your water heater safely:

  • Make sure your bathroom is well ventilated. Never block or obstruct air vents.

  • Always open the bathroom door or window when you are running water.

  • Turn the water heater off before you get in the bath. Never run more water once you are in the bath.

  • Do not run an un flued instantaneous water heater for longer then five minutes at a time. They are not intended to be used for filling baths, showers or washing machines.

  • If you are concerned in any way about the appliance, stop using it immediately and seek help.                                                                                     


Action you should take: Your landlord a has responsibility to make sure that your home is safe. Unfortunately, some landlords ignore our advice with tragic consequences. However, safety is every ones responsibility and there are certain things that you can do to make sure that everyone in  your home is safe.

  • Ask the landlord, accommodation office or agency when the gas appliances were last checked by someone qualified. If the last check was more than 12 months ago, ask for a check to be done.

  • Never block any vents, because you will be shutting out the air your appliances need to burn safety. check that nothing is obstructing outside grilles, flues or air-bricks.

  • Never use a gas appliance which you suspect may not be working properly. Never try to alter or repair a gas appliance yourself.

  • Act without delay if you spot any of the danger signals. If your landlord refuses your requests for servicing, report your concerns to the local authority. Remember that the law is on your side.

  • Even if you have a responsible landlord and your appliances are perfectly safe, expertly installed, and serviced regularly accident will still happen if you do not use the appliances properly.

  • Always follow the instruction and only use appliances for what they were designed for. For example, do not use a cooker to heat a room.


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