Gas Safety Week: how safe are your gas appliances?
Filed under: Utilities
Every household has a certain number of gas appliances which are used on a daily basis. But if they're not fitted properly or maintained they can cost a lot of money and be a real safety risk.
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Gas safety checks
To make sure all your gas appliances - such as fires, boilers, wood burners or cookers - are working safely and cost efficiently, you need to arrange annual services and safety checks.
A registered engineer will come to your house and perform a series of checks, such as making sure appliances are on the right setting and burning with the correct pressure, checking ventilation routes are clear and working and that harmful gases are being removed from your house.
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They will also give you advice on when you need to replace an appliance and produce a report detailing exactly what state your items are in.
Signs you need to book a safety test
If your cooker is getting a bit long in the tooth, there are a number of early warning signs that it may be about to break down. Keep an eye out for a lazy yellow flame instead of a crisp blue, as well as black marks or stains on or around your gas appliances.
Increased condensation in a room or a pilot light which keeps going out are also indicators that you need to get things checked out.
Get a safety check for free
Although these checks generally involve you booking and paying for the engineer, there is a chance you might be able to get the whole thing done for free.
To be eligible for a free check you need to meet one of the following criteria:
- be of pensionable age, disabled or chronically sick and either living alone or with someone in the same situation,
- living in a house with at least once child under the age of five,
- if your house hasn't had a check in the past 12 months or if you live somewhere where a landlord is responsible for arranging these checks.
Finding an engineer
Instead of heading to the yellow pages to find a local engineer, use the online database on the Gas Safe website to make sure you find someone who will do the job correctly. If you don't have access to the internet you can call 0800 408 5500.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning
A broken gas appliance can be costly and can also lead to serious health issues. As carbon monoxide (CO) is invisible and has no smell you won't realise if there's a leak and smoke alarms cannot detect it.
Therefore to prevent an accident make sure you have a CO alarm in your house in each room with a gas appliance.
The recommended models are audible (as if you're asleep you won't notice if an alarm changes colour) and should have the British Standards' Kitemark and the mark 'EN 5029'1. These last around five years and cost an average of £15 from a local DIY shop.
Save money on new appliances
There are many ways to save money on energy and when buying a new appliance the best thing to look for is the 'Energy Saving Trust' logo which identifies items that will save you the most energy in the home.
If you're buying a big appliance, such as a boiler, it's worth while researching and shopping around first as generally if you go for a cheap deal you'll end up paying out more for it in the long run.
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