Safety warning issued as study finds majority of consumers can’t spot faulty gas appliances

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A safety warning is being issued to consumers across the country today (Thursday February 27), as results of a consumer study by the UK’s gas safety authority finds an overwhelming majority of people in the UK cannot correctly identify unsafe gas appliances.

Gas Safe Register showed 1,200 gas consumers1 10 photographs of gas appliances. Eight were life threatening and two were completely safe. Worryingly, nearly all respondents (95 per cent) thought at least one of the potentially deadly appliances were safe, while one in 17 people (6 per cent) thought all eight dangerous appliances were safe.

Is this applaince safe?

Is this applaince safe?

Only one person correctly identified all 10 appliances as safe or dangerous.

Watch our slideshow and see if you can spot the faulty appliances.

Six of the eight dangerous appliances shown could have resulted in a gas leak, fire, explosion or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, but were safety checked before anyone was hurt.

The other two unsafe appliances were investigated by the Register after they had already leaked deadly CO fumes – in one case tragically killing the homeowner and, in the other, ending with a family having to go to hospital.

When gas consumers were shown a picture of the gas fire that resulted in a fatality, nearly half thought it looked safe (48 per cent).

Respondents were also asked if they would get each of the dangerous appliances checked if they were in their own home.

One in 10 people said they would, but only if it broke down, and one in 14 wouldn’t get it checked at all. However, as Gas Safe Register’s survey shows, the only way to know if an appliance is safe or not is to have it safety checked annually.

Sarah Hill, stakeholder manager for Gas Safe Register, said: “Our research backs up what we, as the UK gas authority, already know - people cannot spot a deadly gas appliance as often there are no obvious signs.

“That’s why it’s vital to get your gas appliances safety checked regularly by a registered engineer, who has the skills and the know-how to spot the dangers. Sadly, we also know that the consequences if you don’t can be serious, especially when CO is involved as you can’t see it, taste it or smell it.”

There is also a misconception among the public that newer appliances are safer than old ones, with more than one in five people thinking if an appliance has been fitted in the past five years it will be safe. Even if an appliance is fitted safely, it can become dangerous any number of years following installation if it is not properly maintained.

GAS SAFE REGISTER’S TOP TIPS

Keep you and your family safe, follow Gas Safe Register’s advice:

You cannot always spot an unsafe gas appliance, have your gas appliances serviced and safety checked at least every 12 months. Sign up to a free reminder service by visiting www.staygassafe.co.uk www.staygassafe.co.uk.

Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer when having gas work carried out in your home. You can find a registered engineer in your area by calling Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk

Check the front and back of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card, making sure they are qualified to do the specific type of gas work you require.

Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm which will alert you if dangerous levels are present in your home.

If you smell gas or think there might be a gas leak, call the free 24 hour national gas emergency number immediately on 0800 111 999.

Slideshow results:

Aplliance 1:

What was wrong with this appliance? This gas fire was found to be in an immediately dangerous state by Gas Safe Register as the flue was undersized and not installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. This meant that fumes from the gas fire were not being evacuated (removed) properly and as such, it would have resulted in dangerous fumes, including carbon monoxide, entering the home.

Appliance 2:

What was wrong with the appliance? This boiler was found to be in an immediately dangerous state by Gas Safe Register as the flue had been built around - leaving it venting into a building extension so that dangerous fumes were leaking into the home.

Appliance 3:

What was wrong with the appliance? This boiler was found to be immediately dangerous by Gas Safe Register, because the flue pipe, which carries away all the dangerous fumes following combustion, was not sealed correctly and had subsequently come apart. In addition, the flue joints had not been screwed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. As the flue was not sealed, dangerous fumes, such as carbon monoxide (CO), were being allowed to leak into the home. This flue joint was hidden in the loft, so could not be seen.

Appliance 4:

What was wrong with the appliance? This gas fire was found to be in an immediately dangerous state by Gas Safe Register. There was no evidence that the fire had been serviced or maintained. The firebox behind the radiants (pots) had cracked. The gas fire was fitted to a letter box flue opening into the chimney causing the fire to overheat and crack the firebox. The mould-looking substance on the front of the fire casing is in fact blistering caused by the overheating of the appliance. Due to the cracking, poisonous fumes were being allowed to enter the home.

Appliance 5:

What was wrong with the appliance? This boiler was found to be an immediately dangerous state by Gas Safe Register. This was because the material used for the pipework connecting the gas boiler to the gas was incorrect. As such it could have caused a gas leak. In addition, the flue had been fitted very near a door and window. This meant that dangerous fumes, including carbon monoxide, could have come back into the home.

Appliance 6:

What was wrong with the appliance? This boiler was found to be in an immediately dangerous state by Gas Safe Register. This was because the flue had not been installed correctly and incorrect materials had also been used in its construction. As a result dangerous fumes, including carbon monoxide, were leaking into the home.

Appliance 7:

What was wrong with the appliance? This appliance is safe.

Appliance 8:

What was wrong with the appliance? This boiler was found to be immediately dangerous by Gas Safe Register. This boiler had a blocked heat exchanger, which meant that dangerous gases were unable to escape safely. To make matters worse, a lack of regular maintenance had resulted in the case seals to become ineffective allowing dangerous carbon monoxide fumes to enter the home. This carbon monoxide fumes, caused by this appliance, ended up poisoning a family. The defects with the boiler were identified as avoidable if the appliance had been serviced regularly.

Appliance 9:

What was wrong with the appliance? This gas fire was found in an immediately dangerous state by Gas Safe Register. The chimney serving this gas fire had been blocked. As a result dangerous carbon monoxide fumes were allowed to leak into the home. The homeowner in this case died as a result of carbon monoxide caused by this faulty gas fire.

Appliance 10 is safe,