5 Safety Tips To Follow When Using Gas Appliances
With gas powering numerous household appliances, including cookers, boilers and central heating, many of us enjoy the warm benefits that this natural gas brings to our homes. Often more cost-effective to run than electric, you should get many years of use out of your gas appliances. However, a gas appliance has the potential to be unsafe if it is not well maintained.
To help keep you and yours safe, we take a look at 5 top gas safety tips to follow when using gas appliances.
Tip 1: Get your Appliances Checked Annually
Once a year you should arrange for all your gas appliances to be checked by a qualified professional to ensure all is well and they are in good working order. It’s a good idea to arrange for the check at the same time you get your gas boiler serviced so it can all be done at once. Leaving your gas appliance unchecked can lead to problems in the long run, as smaller issues can develop into expensive repairs as well as costly energy bills if your boiler or appliance is not running as efficiently as it should. In-between your annual safety checks, also make sure you keep your appliances clean and don’t delay calling out an engineer if you spot an issue that you need to get fixed.
Tip 2: Always use a Gas Safe Registered Engineer
Only ever use a Gas Safe registered engineer for your annual gas safety checks, servicing or repairs. A Gas Safe registered engineer is acknowledged by the Gas Safe Register as qualified and experienced to check and carry out repairs on gas appliances. In fact, all qualified engineers are required by law to be Gas Safe registered so if a heating engineer or plumber is not registered or cannot show proof of his registration, you should not let him do the work.
If you are in any doubt, ask to see their Gas Safe ID card – they should carry this with them and should be more than happy to show it to you. You can also check their credentials on the Gas Safe Register.
Tip 3: Make sure You Have Adequate Ventilation
All gas appliances need sufficient airflow to burn safely and effectively so you need to make sure your appliance – whether it’s a boiler or gas cooker – has adequate ventilation. Freely circulating air allows any residual gases to safely escape and ensure the appliance is working at its best. However, any blockages in air vents or chimneys can cause a dangerous build-up of gases, particularly carbon monoxide which can prove fatal if it builds up in sufficient quantities. Adequate ventilation includes sufficient space behind the boiler and ensuring flues and vents are always kept clear. Your flues and vents will also be reviewed by your engineer as part of your annual gas safety check.
Tip 4: Do a Visual Check
While you should only ever let a Gas Safe registered engineer do any servicing, safety checks or repairs on your gas appliance, there are some visual checks you can regularly do to make sure all is functioning well. The flame on your gas boiler is a good place to start as it should be consistent and a distinct blue. A floppy or poor flame or a flame that is yellow or orange, needs to be professionally checked as it could be a sign of carbon monoxide gas leaks. Excessive condensation or black marks on your boiler are also warning signs that something may not be quite right and needs to be professionally assessed with a gas safety check.
Tip 5: Fit a Carbon Monoxide Alarm
As with most things in life, prevention is better than the cure and when it comes to potential carbon monoxide (CO) leaks, you should leave nothing to chance. If you have gas appliances in your home, you should install an audible carbon monoxide alarm which will sound an alert if there’s an unsafe gas appliance and a CO leak occurs. Choose a CO alarm that is marked with the quality standard, EN 50291 and always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Once in place, try to get into the habit of testing the alarm monthly and replace the batteries when required.
CO has no taste and smell, so it is wise to also know the signs and symptoms of Carbon monoxide poisoning, so you are ready to act should you or a family member fall ill. The main symptoms of CO poisoning are:
If you recognise any of these symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, leave your home and seek medical attention. And a call to an emergency Gas Safe engineer will be required to make your home safe again.