According to staygassafe.co.uk, 1 in 6 homes has a dangerous gas appliance, which in itself is a worrying statistic! Unchecked and badly fitted and maintained gas appliances can pose a potentially lethal risk to your safety and health due to risk of gas leaks, fire, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you’re on mains gas or use liquified petroleum gas (LPG) to heat your home or to cook with, it’s important to know how to stay gas safe and how to make sure your appliances stay in good working order. It's also worth taking the time to understand the health and safety risks, as well as any legal issues that might arise.
Stay Gas Safe - Don’t DIY!
It’s important you make sure your appliances stay in good working order to keep your household safe. But, do not attempt to do this yourself!
The first thing we’d strongly recommend is that you protect the people you love and get a gas safety check once a year on all the gas appliances in your home, such as your boiler, gas cooker and gas fire. This should always be done by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Your engineer will also do a visual inspection of your gas pipework and a tightness test to confirm that there are no gas leaks.
And as well as ensuring the safety of you and your family, having your boiler serviced will also ensure that your appliance is running efficiently and can help you reduce your fuel costs and avoid costly breakdowns, a really important factor in these times of rising prices and soaring energy costs.
It’s simple to check if an individual engineer is currently Gas Safe registered - you will need to know their unique 7-digit licence number, which will be on their Gas Safe ID card. These ID cards are issued annually and each new card will have a different licence number. Once you have this number, you can visit the Gas Safe website and enter the engineer’s licence number. In addition, it’s important to check the back of the card to ensure your engineer is qualified to carry out the work required.
If you’re in rented accommodation, it’s your landlords responsibility to ensure that you stay gas safe. In fact, your landlord is required to have an annual gas safety check carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. So if you’re a tenant, we'd advise you insist on seeing a copy of your landlord’s gas safety check record if you haven't already.
Set a reminder for your Gas Safe check
Gas Safe Register, the official gas registration body for the United Kingdom, Isle of man and Guernsey, has a free reminder service and will send you an email or text when it’s time to get your appliances checked. Just fill in your details and they will do the rest.
Know the warning signs
It’s really important to know what to look out for that might alert you to an unsafe gas appliance, as carbon monoxide poisoning, known as the silent killer, can be a potential and extremely dangerous hazard. It can be produced as a result of faulty appliances that have been poorly maintained or fitted incorrectly.
Carbon monoxide is colourless and tasteless, so is difficult to detect. It is however extremely poisonous, and can cause flu-like symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, vomiting, headaches and confusion, and can even be lethal if overexposure occurs.
Being aware of some of the warning signs that could indicate a gas appliance is unsafe is crucial. These signs can include lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks or stains on or around your appliances, increased condensation around the room, and a pilot light that keeps going out. The NHS website gives more detailed information on the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm
If you live in a home with any gas appliances, whether on mains gas or LPG, you should have a carbon monoxide alarm in every room. In addition, if you have heating oil, and/or a wood burning fire or stove, or indeed any fossil fuel, you should also have an alarm in every room where the fuel is burned.
Such alarms will sniff out the danger – they will sense when there’s carbon monoxide in the air and let you and your family know by emitting an audible alarm.
It’s important to test your detectors on a regular basis. We would recommend a monthly check to make sure they are working optimally. To test, you just press and hold the test button on the alarm, and it will beep. If your alarm doesn’t test properly, install new batteries, or make sure the existing ones are installed correctly.
It’s worth doing a little research as there are different types of detectors which are suitable for different applications. Options include replaceable batteries, sealed batteries, and even smart carbon monoxide detectors.
Ventilate your home
Ventilation is vital for the safe operation of gas appliances. Vents must be kept clear and should never be blocked by furniture or other household items, and inlets mustn’t be blocked. Don’t obstruct flues and chimneys – these should also be cleaned and checked at least twice a year.
Your annual gas safety check will include ventilation tests. This is because for the correct combustion to take place, gas appliances need the correct amount of oxygen to burn.
Think LPG tank safe
If you use mains gas, the gas is piped directly into your home. In the case of bulk LPG users, with the exception of those that live on metered estates, the LPG is stored in a tank. This is either an above or below ground tank, on your premises, and brings with it some further gas safety considerations. Whilst fundamentally LPG is a completely safe fuel when stored and used correctly, it is, like other forms of energy, not without it’s risks. So, it’s important to know what to do in the case of a fuel emergency, and how to avoid potential hazards from occurring.
Other things to think about are keeping the area around your tank free from clutter and keeping access to the tank clear for deliveries and tank maintenance. And whilst gas leaks are rare, if you do smell gas or have an emergency, you will need to close the manual outlet valve on the tank, turn of all appliances and the property’s emergency valve, and extinguish all nearby naked flames. More information and expert advice can be found in our recent and in-depth blog: ‘Is LPG safe’.
Need more expert advice?
We hope you found the information in this blog useful, but we’re always at the end of the phone if you have any concerns or would like more advice on gas safety. At Northern Energy, we’ve been supplying heating oil and LPG to remote areas around the UK for over 90 years and know how important fuel safety is for us all. For more advice, browse our latest news and insights from the off-grid energy experts or get in touch for a heating oil or LPG delivery quote!