Access to gas flues could be tricky

Heating engineers will be required access to gas flues from 1 January, 2013 for inspection. But gaining access in flats and similar multiple-occupancy buildings could be an issue, says Jeff Howell to Daily Telegraph readers.

After contacting the Gas Safe Register, it responded to Howell: “As the current guidance stands, an engineer cannot demand access to a flue in an adjoining property without the permission of the property owner. But there is a necessity to inspect flues every time a gas appliance is worked upon, and it would be the responsibility of the property owners to ensure this is achieved.”

Howell said:”This is clearly a ridiculous situation, as a gas flue that has functioned safely for years will suddenly be deemed “at risk” simply because the upstairs neighbours are away on holiday at the time of the inspection,” says Howell.

“Obviously it is important that upstairs neighbours are protected from the risks of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from leaking flues, but I would have thought that the mandatory fitting of CO detectors, plus a visual inspection every two years, would be a more sensible policy than to require an engineer to inspect a flue along its whole length every time he is called out to a minor electronic fault (which seems to be frequent in the case of modern condensing boilers).”

The Gas Safe Register states that carbon monoxide alarms are not an alternative to being able to see the flue which requires inspection hatches fitted. Property owners have until 31 December 2012 for this work to be completed.

From 1 January, 2013, any Gas Safe registered engineer will turn the boiler off but this requires permission from the occupier or user, “who is unlikely to volunteer to lose their heating and hot water for some unspecified period especially if it is a tenant faced with forcing an unwilling landlord to carry out expensive modifications”.