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Chimneys & Flues: Safety remains key in new flue regs

Vaillant is using its commercial training programmes to bring installers of light commercial appliances up to speed with new flueing regulations. John Bailey explains.
Chimneys & Flues: Safety remains key in new flue regs
New flueing regulations have been introduced which concern fanflued gas appliances. These are frequently installed on internal walls in order for contractors and building owners to maximise internal space.

The flues to these boilers are, in many cases, routed through voids in ceiling spaces and behind stud walls.

There is a legal requirement for gas engineers to check the flue after carrying out any work on the boiler, which includes making a visual inspection. If the engineer is unable to see the flue because it is located in a void, it is impossible for him to confirm that the flue is safe and impossible for him to comply with his legal obligations.

When engineers fit a boiler, they have to be clear that it can be used without constituting a danger to anyone and that requires them to confirm that the flue is safe. Moreover, every time the boiler is serviced, the engineer must be able to check that the flue is still safe, that it is continuous and properly supported throughout its length and that all joints are correctly assembled and appropriately sealed.

As a consequence, new regulations (announced in HSE bulletin OPSTD 10-2010 which came into force on 1 January 2011) now require inspection hatches to be available in ceilings or stud walls to give engineers proper access to the flue.

Building owners or landlords have until the end of 2012 to arrange for inspection hatches to be installed. Any gas engineer working on such systems after 1 January 2013 will have to advise the homeowner that the system is 'at risk' and, with the owner's permission, will need to turn off the gas supply to the boiler so that it cannot be used.

Between now and then, however, where no inspection hatches are fitted, engineers can carry out a simple risk assessment which should ensure that the risk from exposure to CO is managed in the short-term. This risk assessment includes looking for signs of leakage along the flue route by carrying out a flue combustion analysis check and checking for the presence of suitable carbon monoxide alarms and installing such alarms where they are not already fitted.

As long as the boiler passes the series of safety checks and the risk assessment does not identify any concerns about its safety, it can be left on.

• John Bailey is commercial heating and systems director at Vaillant
6 December 2011

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