Plumber put lives at risk with illegal gas work

A Milton Keynes plumber who put a householder at risk by illegally installing and working on a gas boiler has been sentenced.

Trading as C&H Services, Christopher Johnson, 45, of 2 Bogart Place, installed a new gas boiler in the kitchen of a residential property in Fairfield Road, Dunstable in April 2010.

He was called back to the house in October 2010 as the resident reported a banging sound coming from the appliance. Mr Johnson determined that the boiler needed a new part. He left the appliance with its casing off but still connected to the gas supply. 

After Mr Johnson’s visit, the resident contacted the boiler manufacturer which classified it as “immediately dangerous” and disconnected the gas supply to prevent it being used.

An engineer from Gas Safe also inspected the work and confirmed the existence of immediately dangerous defects which posed a significant risk to people in the house. Gas Safe found the boiler and flue were not compatible and the boiler casing had not been replaced resulting in the seal between the boiler and the kitchen becoming ineffective. 

Both defects could have resulted in potentially lethal carbon monoxide escaping. The investigation also found that Mr Johnson was not registered with Gas Safe and so was working illegally.

At Luton & South Bedfordshire Magistrates’ Court today, Mr Johnson pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 3(1) and 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998.  Along with a three month community order, he was ordered to pay £475 costs.

HSE Inspector Stephen Manley said:

“It is against the law for anyone who is not registered with Gas Safe to carry out work on a gas appliance – and for good reason. When unqualified people try to bypass the law in this way they are not only putting themselves at risk of prosecution, and potentially a large fine or a spell in prison – they are also putting their customers’ lives at risk.

“Working with gas appliances is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. Only engineers who are qualified and registered should attempt it.

“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way.”

Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register added:

“If you’re employing an engineer to fit, fix or service gas appliances, you should always make sure that person is Gas Safe registered. If they say they are, don’t just take their word for it. Check they are on the Gas Safe Register and check their ID card when they arrive at your door.

“You shouldn’t take any risks, badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause fires, explosions, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.”