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Burning Issue: Maintenance is cheaper than a boiler breakdown

Boilers are not always visible but according to Adrian Harvey (below), commercial director of British Gas Business, out of sight should not mean out of mind
Burning Issue: Maintenance is cheaper than a boiler breakdown
FOR small businesses, it isn't only productivity that should be at the top of the agenda, keeping basic systems in good order should be considered just as important - none more so than the boiler.

Maintenance can often be pushed down the pecking order of priorities, especially when small firms have to deal with the day-to-day pressures of running their business.

Our findings reveal the importance of taking boiler maintenance seriously, something that not all small businesses are doing.

A recent survey by British Gas Business showed one in five businesses are not servicing their boiler and are therefore running the long term risk of it becoming dangerous or inefficient.

Of the small businesses BGB talked to, nearly one fifth had not had their boiler serviced within the last year, 7% didn't know when their boiler had last been serviced and nearly one in five didn't even know how old the boiler was.

These figures are very concerning, not only from a health and safety perspective but also because SMEs can't afford to be throwing away money on expensive repair bills.

According to the Health & Safety Executive, all gas appliances should be checked at least every 12 months by a qualified inspector.

No matter what the season, many businesses could find themselves facing enormous repair bills and even loss of trade, all because their boiler has been forgotten and gone without a thorough inspection for ages.

These problems could be exacerbated even further if businesses are not covered as part of a planned maintenance programme.

The main reason for not getting the boiler serviced regularly is often the fear of the costs that might accrue from doing so; yet, SMEs should also consider the financial and environmental benefits.

A quick and regular check-up will always cost less than having to fix a boiler which has broken down.

According to the Carbon Trust a boiler that is poorly maintained will consume 10% more energy*.

A poorly-maintained boiler uses more energy than one in perfect shape and is at a high risk of breaking down - and who wants that? A small amount of time every now and then is all that is needed!

Getting your gas boiler and heating system serviced at least every 12 months should become as regular an event as filling in your tax return. Just imagine what would happen to your business if you had no heat or water?

British Gas Business also surveyed businesses on who was responsible for arranging the servicing of the boiler because all businesses have a responsibility to ensure they meet the applicable gas safety regulations.**

There seems to be some confusion: nearly half of businesses claimed that it was the responsibility of somebody other than the business owner.

Therefore, business owners need to make sure they are absolutely clear on who exactly is responsible for servicing their boiler. More often than not, it is themselves, but if someone else has responsibility, such as the landlord, they need to ensure that it happens. A regularly serviced boiler is both safe and cheaper to run.

Like a machine, it's the cogs of a business that ensure its smooth running. Making sure that these are well maintained is therefore a must if you don't want to land yourself in hot water.

* For more information about the Carbon Trust, visit

** For more details and advice on gas safety for businesses, visit, or call the HSE Gas Safety Advice Line on 0800 300 363
1 April 2006


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