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Installers back supplier's ID request to stop cowboys

A poll of more than 600 installers in the UK has revealed 98% would support a policy to restrict the sale of gas safe critical products to Gas Safe registered engineers only.
Installers back supplier
Some 613 of the 622 installers questioned at the Plumbfix stand at the recent Installer Live exhibition, said they would back a policy where all should be asked to show their Gas Safe Register id card to buy gas carrying products in the UK, effectively cutting off the supply to unqualified tradesmen.

Trade-only plumbing and heating supplier Plumbfix has already pledged to only sell gas critical components to those who can prove they are on the Gas Safe Register and it checks installers' details for each relevant purchase. “Our customers tell us these illegal workers are a huge source of concern to engineers who work hard to prove their competency and achieve high standards. Illegals tarnish the reputation of professional gas installers by putting lives at risk through poor quality, dangerous work.” said John Mewett, Plumbfix marketing director.

The Plumbfix research follows data from Gas Safe Register which revealed a quarter of a million gas appliances in Britain and the Isle of Man are installed or serviced by illegal fitters every year.

The Gas Safe Register study* estimated that 7,500 hard core illegal gas fitters are doing these jobs without the skills or the qualifications to work on gas.

More than half (57%) are sole traders. As well as carrying out gas work, many also undertake plumbing jobs (90%), bathroom fitting (81%), kitchen fitting (67%), general building (43%) and electrical work (43%).

*Accent carried out this research for Gas Safe Register in August 2009. To be eligible for interview, respondents had to say they personally undertook at least one of four types of gas work (fitting gas cookers or hobs, gas fires, gas boilers or doing gas pipework). In total, 427 people were interviewed, (of whom 270 were from online sources and 157 advertised in Yellow Pages or Thomson directories).

Phill Brewster, Gas Safe Register’s national investigations manager said: 'One in 10 of the illegal gas installations we investigated in the last nine months have been 'immediately dangerous' and we had to disable the appliances straight away to make them safe. Over a third of these were leaking gas and almost half had faults that could lead to lethal carbon monoxide exposure'.

As well as searching for illegal gas fitters, Gas Safe Register’s investigation team also investigates registered engineers carrying out work they are not qualified to do. Brewster said: 'Just because someone is qualified and registered to work on one gas appliance, for example gas boilers, does not mean that they are automatically qualified to put in a gas fire. If they do this, the work is illegal and potentially life threatening. The work that engineers can legally do is listed on the back of their Gas Safe Register card.'
5 November 2009


By Zarrafak
05 November 2009 00:02:00
My daughter lets out her semi.
Recently, the letting agency she uses to let out her house sent out their "Gas Safe registered engineer" to repair a boiler fault prior to the annual inspection. He failed to do this, and left the installation in a dangerous condition, with gas build-up and unreliable ignition. We had him return, this time with me present, and within minutes I had identified an ignition problem, with an incorrect piezoelectric spark gap as the cause. I have over 30 years' experience as a process control systems engineer in hydrocarbons. I am constantly frustrated by the lack of professionalism of supposedly approved tradesmen. There has to be some system where individuals with relevant higher level experience and knowledge can be fast track approved for "Gas Safe" work.
By System Thinker
05 November 2009 00:01:00
It should be applauded that we try and stop the cowboys, however as someone who has installed my own boiler you will prevent people like myself from doing our own work, which is quite legal.

Before you shout out I am not qualified, I spent many years as a chemist working with far more dangerous gasses than what comes down our pipeline one molecule of which could have killed you so I am aware of the dangers.

However from an insurance point of view I had the boiler commissioned by the manufacturer's engineer who claimed it to be the best self installation he had seen and better than most professional installers. To cap it all the boiler efficiency ran at 7% above design spec the reason being that I had designed the pipe size and runs properly.

There are many competent DIY'rs around, it would be unfair to block these out of being able to have access to gas critical components.

To add I would however not contemplate doing work for anyone else for many reasons the main one it is illegal. The point I am trying to get across is do not tar everyone who is not qualified with the same brush.

The fact that I get your newsletter and go to HEVAR and seminars show I have more than a passing interest in the subject. The fact that as an approved installer you have a piece of paper does not mean you will always do a good job. You are only as good as your last job.
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