Unsafe gas appliances are most commonly found in homes that have changed hands relatively recently, according to analysis of the latest gas safety inspection figures carried out by Gas Safe Register.
Of properties in which inspectors found faulty gas appliances over the past year1 almost half (47%) had new owners in the last five years, over a quarter (26%) had been purchased in the two years prior to the inspection, and 17% had changed hands in just the past year. One in six UK homes houses a potentially dangerous gas appliance.
The findings – released as Gas Safety Week (September 12th to 18th) gets underway across the UK – are supported by new research conducted with 1,700 of the country’s Gas Safe registered engineers. 94% of engineers want more priority to be put on gas safety in the home moving process, with two fifths pointing to the first year of owning a property as a particular danger for home and family gas safety. Engineers put this down to ‘gas-stumped’ new owners being unaware of key information including where to switch gas off in an emergency, the safety record of gas appliances and if there is a working carbon monoxide alarm in the new home
To help prevent potentially-fatal hazards, including gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning, that can result from unsafe gas appliances such as cookers, boilers and gas fires, Gas Safe Register has joined forces with TV presenter Dion Dublin, and major players in the homes sector, including HomeOwners Alliance, Neighbourhood Watch and RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) to highlight the ‘new home danger zone’ and help everyone be more gas safety-savvy at home, regardless of whether they’re brand new to their property or have been living there for decades.
Dion explains: “From buying and selling properties over the last 20 years, I know just how stressful moving can be. But the excitement of finally getting those keys and dreaming about your interior decorating plans, can mean that less exciting aspects of a move – like health, wellbeing and safety, unintentionally take a backseat. No one wants something to go wrong with their new home, which is why I want everyone to get to know their gas better this Gas Safety Week.
“My one piece of advice? If you’re moving into a new home, there are things that you should be aware of and have the confidence to ask about, so you can avoid being ‘gas-stumped’. Never assume the gas appliances are safe and in good working order. It’s always better to get them safety checked during the moving process or as soon you settle in, rather than wait until something goes wrong later down the line. Make sure you have sight of the latest safety and maintenance records for all gas appliances in the home, and familiarise yourself with where the gas Emergency Control Valve is located, so you know where to switch the gas supply off in an emergency. It’s better to be gas safe, than sorry.”
Gas Safe Register is also pushing for gas safety advice to be given more prominence in popular home moving resources after it found that none of the top 20 home-moving guides found via Google Search mention any of the most crucial information homeowners should know about gas safety.
Dion continues: “For too long, this sort of guidance has been overlooked in key resources and guides that people use when they are planning a move – yet having the know-how on what to look out for and act on, can not only save you money in the long run, but will protect the health and safety of you and your loved ones.”
Bob Kerr, Gas Services Director at Gas Safe Register, said: “Left not serviced and unchecked year-on-year, gas appliances such as cookers, fires and boilers, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as gas leaks which – in some extreme circumstances – can lead to, fires and explosions that cost lives and shatter neighbourhoods.
“Yet, worryingly, two fifths of homeowners3, admit to pushing safety actions such as fitting a carbon monoxide alarm and ensuring their boilers are safety checked to the bottom of their to-d0 lists.
“This Gas Safety Week, we’re urging all householders – especially new homeowners and people who are currently in the home buying process, to get clued up on the gas safety basics to be aware of and act on – from being aware of the signs and symptoms of unsafe gas appliances, to always making sure a Gas Safe registered engineer is used for any gas work, including for annual gas safety checks. All engineers must be qualified and listed on the Gas Safe Register. It’s time to make gas safety a priority when moving homes, so we don’t put our loved ones, new properties or even our new neighbours in danger.”
Ashley Martin, Public Health Adviser at RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), said: “Getting the keys to your new home is an exciting and a hectic time. Gain peace of mind by getting a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer to check over your gas system – you won’t be able to see any cracks or weaknesses in the mains pipes, and you may not smell any leaks. The consequences of a failure can be devastating so it’s well worth putting a gas check right at the top of your new home to-do list.”
Dion Dublin and Gas Safe Register’s homebuyers’ guide to gas safety basics
- Prepare: find out where your gas Emergency Control Valve is located, so you can quickly switch the gas supply off in an emergency
- Paperwork: ask the current owners for all records they have about installation, maintenance and safety checks for their household’s gas appliances and gas pipework
- Peace of mind: if they can’t provide a record, or it’s been more than 12 months since the last check, get in touch with a local Gas Safe registered engineer who can carry out a safety check for you
- Play it safe: only Gas Safe registered engineers are experts in gas appliances, flues and pipework. Your homebuyer or structural surveys might not confirm if the gas appliances in your new property are working as they should be – get them checked to be on the safe side
- Pause use: if you’re worried about any gas appliances in a new home, don’t use them until you’ve had them checked out by an expert. Signs something could be wrong include lazy yellow flames, black marks or sooty stains on or around the appliance, increased condensation or intermittent pilot lights
- Perfecting your home: if doing work to a home after you’ve moved in:
*Don’t try to fit, fix or move gas appliances such as boilers, cookers or fires yourself. Use a Gas Safe registered engineer
*Don’t block or cover air vents and flues – your gas appliance will need ventilation to work safely
*Before drilling, hammering or putting screws into a wall or floor, check what’s behind