Are You at Risk From Illegal Gas Fitters?

A Recent survey finds that over 65% of work carried out by illegal gas fitters is unsafe!

 

In the age of the internet, it can seem like you’re spoiled for choice for plumbers or servicemen that can fit a brand new gas appliance. The ease of search engines meaning you’ve got hundreds of local businesses at your fingertips, and choosing the right one can all come down to price, or even the way their website looks.

But, the oversaturation of services means that often we’re driven to overlook one of the most vital aspects of gas appliance installation.

Recently released research has revealed that nearly five million people spanning the U.K. have put themselves at risk from a range of severe and even deadly health issues, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, gas leaks and explosions, by allowing illegal gas engineers to fit their appliances in their homes.

Gas Hob

Gas Hob

What’s the Problem?

The Gas Safe Register is the only official registration body with oversight over the competencies of engineers working with gas appliances. Since 2009, by law, all engineers working with gas must be on the Gas Safe Register.

The register was set up to protect the public from the dangers of unsafe gas work, and it does this through two ways. The operation of the register ensures that all Gas Safe Registered engineers are qualified and competent, through regular inspection and investigations of reported illegal gas work. As well as conducting public awareness campaigns to educate on the issues to do with gas safety.

The primary way the Gas Safe Register protects from illegal gas work is by maintaining an up-to-date and easily accessible list of the gas engineers who are regularly checked and qualified to perform gas work.

By employing an unregistered, or illegal, engineer, you’re allowing someone who has been relatively unchecked and could even be unqualified, to work with potentially dangerous and tricky gas appliances. Something that can have massively adverse and harmful effects on your, and your household’s health.

To give some indication of the scale of the problem, the data collated by the investigations team from the Gas Safe Register found that over 65% of jobs carried out by illegal fitters were unsafe, and one in five gas appliances were putting the household at such risk they had to be disconnected immediately.

Illegal Gas Fitting in BristolOver the past four years of collecting and collating data, the investigations team from the Gas Safe Register inspected over 2,300 illegal gas jobs. Whilst the overall trend was one of poor workmanship, a significant disparity was found to exist between different regions, and even cities, around the number of dangerous gas jobs, worked on, or completed by, illegal fitters.

Over the past four years of collecting and collating data, the investigations team from the Gas Safe Register inspected over 2,300 illegal gas jobs. Whilst the overall trend was one of poor workmanship, a significant disparity was found to exist between different regions, and even cities, around the number of dangerous gas jobs, worked on, or completed by, illegal fitters.

How does that affect you in Bristol?

Whilst Bristol did not make the top ten regions with the highest concentration of illegal gas work, it only just narrowly missed out, coming in eleventh behind Birmingham.

In the South West, over half of the households were found to have had unsafe gas work done by an illegal engineer, rendering a whopping 52% of homes at potential risk from the dangers we specified above.

Gas Appliance

Gas Appliance

How to make sure you use a registered gas engineer

The first thing you can do to curb the employment of illegal gas engineers is to check that any prospective fitters are on the Gas Safe Register, either through their website, www.gassaferegister.co.uk, or calling them on 0800 408 5500.

Another way to check is by asking to see a proof of registration, in the form of an ID card, before allowing an engineer access to your home. You can do this by ‘trusting the triangle’ and checking for the Gas Safe Register logo and relevant credentials on the gas fitters’ ID card. Worryingly, the research found that one in five people, a relatively large 19%, did not check that a tradesperson had the relevant ID card or qualifications to work on a gas appliance.

The key is to be vigilant. We understand that the most common way of finding a local tradesperson isn’t through a gas safe register but through word of mouth, or peer reviews. The study completed by the Gas Safe Register finding that people are most likely to employ a tradesperson based on recommendations from friends or family members (53%), and trust them based on their personal presentation (41%) or how official they look (30%), rather than checking for their qualifications (11%).

The safety of your home and your family should not be based on whether someone is, or is not, wearing a well-presented uniform, so ensure that you double check their qualifications through one of the methods above.

If you’re worried that your boiler or other gas appliance was fitted by an unsafe engineer, don’t hesitate to contact a reputable, and Gas Safe Registered plumber to do an inspection.