With summer or home improvement season approaching, Gas Safe Register - the UK’s official gas safety authority - is warning homeowners to be aware of gas risks when making renovations and doing DIY.
Russell Kramer, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, warns: “When it comes to installing a new gas boiler or gas hob, it’s clear gas is involved so a registered engineer
should carry out the job. However, some home improvement work, such as building an extension or having a kitchen fitted may affect existing gas appliances, pipework, flues or air supplies - putting lives in danger.
For example, if you’re hammering into a wall and haven’t checked where the gas pipes are, you could puncture a pipe and cause a gas leak, while a blocked flue or air vent, as the result of building work, may lead to deadly carbon monoxide (CO) being produced by your appliances . The Register, wants to raise awareness among the public of the need to protect themselves by always checking whether gas appliances, pipework and flues will be affected by renovations - as it’s not always immediately obvious.”
The warning comes following 21 reported prosecutions against tradesmen and construction companies since January 2012 under gas safety regulations for carrying out dangerous home improvement work. Three of the most serious cases that came to court last year were instances where it would not have been immediately obvious that the job involved gas but where the consequences were deadly or life threatening.
- Mojammed Jamil, a builder, was prosecuted in July 2012 after he was contracted to raise the roof of a garage but, in doing so, blocked a flue resulting in deadly CO filling the house and killing an elderly couple.
- Vikas Patel and Rushi Construction were prosecuted in August 2012 after trying to extend a flue pipe through a new room, which had been built as part of an extension. The dodgy work meant that CO was leaking into the home, thankfully, no one was injured.
- Superglazing Ltd was prosecuted in September 2012 for building a conservatory over an existing gas flue for a boiler. The work put a family, including a pregnant woman and child, at risk of potentially fatal CO fumes.
Max Schenker knows only too well the danger home improvement work can pose. Max’s brother, Robert, died from CO poisoning in 2006 after a builder, contracted to renovate the chimney, dropped mortar down the chimney blocking the flue to Robert’s boiler. The blocked flue resulted in deadly CO filling Robert’s home while he slept.
Max says: “My brother died from CO poisoning as a result of what he thought was a straightforward renovation. You can’t see, smell or taste CO – so Robert had no idea he was being poisoned until it was too late. My advice to anyone considering making a home improvement is to double check whether pipework or flues will be affected and, if in doubt, to get a second opinion from a registered gas engineer.”