Protect your home from gas cowboys
Recent research uncovered some startling statistics about illegal gas fitters - but a few simple measures will ensure home owners are protected from rogue traders.
Home owners should never DIY when it comes to installing or servicing gas appliances - but with recent research showing as many as 250,000 jobs are carried out by illegal fitters in Great Britain and the Isle of Man every year, how can residential property owners protect themselves?
The report from the Gas Safe Register made some stark discoveries - over one-third of the illegal installations inspected by the watchdog since the start of 2009 were leaking gas, while more than half had faults that could potentially lead to lethal carbon monoxide exposure.
Overall, one in ten jobs was classed as being immediately dangerous and the appliances had to be disabled to make them safe.
The dangers of using a cowboy gas installer are very real - in 2008, the BBC reported there were 14 deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning in the UK. Another 234 people required hospital treatment.
However, as the research from the Gas Safe Register indicates, the cowboys make up a tiny minority. The organisation believes a "hard core" of 7,500 unqualified workers are responsible for the majority of illegal installations.
Residential property owners can ensure they dodge these rogue traders by making sure gas engineers are authorised by the Gas Safe Register and are qualified to carry out the work.
Phil Brewster, the body's national investigations manager, said:
"We want everyone to understand that different types of gas work require different qualifications. "The work that engineers can legally do is listed on the back of their Gas Safe Register card - it's so important you check this every time you have work done."
Mark Dicker of Home Heating, one of Rated People's recommended tradesmen, added it is also important to check qualifications are still "up-to-date". He said:
"If in any doubt double check the card online or by ringing the Gas Safe hotline."
For additional peace of mind, home owners can nominate a gas installation in their home for a free inspection by the Gas Safe Register.
The watchdog checks the work in a selection of nominated homes to ensure it meets the right standards.
The Gas Safe Register replaced Corgi as the official gas registration body for Great Britain and the Isle of Man on April 1st 2009.