Important advice for consumers who have flues which run in ceiling spaces / voids / box work

Some properties, mainly flats and apartments, have been built with boiler flues which cannot be inspected because they are hidden behind walls or ceilings. The boiler flues that this information relates to are connected to room-sealed fan assisted boilers.

If you live in one of these homes then please read on for more information so you know what to do.

Gas Safe registered engineers need to be able to see the flue − which take fumes away from the boiler − as part of essential safety checks whenever the boiler is worked on. A flue in poor condition, combined with a boiler that is not working properly, could put you and your
family in danger from
carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause death or serious injury.

If your boiler is situated on an outside wall, it is unlikely you have this type of flue. Alternatively, if your engineer can see the entire flue, you will not need to take any further action in relation to this matter.

If you do have a boiler where all, or part of, the flue cannot be seen, you, or your landlord, will need to arrange for inspection hatches to be fitted. This does not mean that your flue system is suddenly unsafe. As long as the boiler passes a series of safety checks(the Risk Assessment Procedure)including having audible carbon monoxide alarms fittedit can be used normally for the time being.

Carbon monoxide alarms are not an alternative to being able to see the flue or annual
servicing and you will still need to have inspection hatches fitted. You have until 31 December 2012 for this work to be completed. It is recommended that inspection hatches are fitted as soon as you are able to do so. From 1 January 2013, any Gas Safe registered engineer will turn the boiler off and formally advise you if 'At Risk' or 'Immediately Dangerous' and not to use it until inspection hatches have been fitted in appropriate places. From 1 January 2013 any Gas Safe registered engineer will not be able to carry out any work in relation to the boiler.

Although most of the affected boiler and flue systems are relatively new (installed since 2000), the risk of faults leading to the release of carbon monoxide increases as the system gets older, especially if it is not serviced regularly. It is important that you have your
gas appliances
serviced annually.

You need to take action now.

If your property is less than two years old then contact your builder. If your property is between two and ten years old contact your home warranty provider, as you may be covered by them if there are defects in the flue. If your property is 10 years or older you should contact Horsham Boiler & Heating Services Ltd.

If you are a tenant, it is the responsibility of your landlord to ensure that inspection hatches are installed and that the boiler and flue are checked every year.

 

FAQS

Why is carbon monoxide (CO) dangerous?

CO is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbonbased fuels, including gas. It is only when the gas does not burn properly that dangerous levels of CO are produced. CO stops theblood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs and can kill quickly.

Around 20 people in Great Britain die each year from CO  oisoning caused by faulty gas appliances and flues.

CO poisoning can easily be confused with food poisoning, viral infections, flu or tiredness. Symptoms to look out for include headaches, breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, collapse, loss of consciousness, tiredness, drowsiness, vomiting, pains in the chest, stomach pains, erratic behaviour or visual problems.

 

What should I do if I think I am suffering from CO poisoning?

If you have immediate safety concerns, or think you are suffering thesymptoms of CO poisoning, turn off the appliance immediately and contact the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.

If you or your family experience any of the above symptoms and you believe CO may be involved, you should seek urgent medical advice from either your GP or an Accident and Emergency department.

 

If there is an immediate safety issue, why have I got two years to fit inspection hatches?

Getting the work completed may take time, especially if you are contacting your builder or home warranty provider, or you may be waiting for your next scheduled boiler service. By getting your boiler serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer and fitting audible CO alarm(s), to BS EN 50291:2001, you are helping to manage any risk until the inspection hatches have been installed.

 

If I am safe to use my boiler for the next two years with CO alarms and boiler checks why must I have inspection hatches installed at all?

Gas engineers are required by law to be able to see the flue to inspect it. Unless inspection hatches are fitted, they cannot confirm that your flue is safe and will have to turn the boiler off. Having your boiler serviced and the fitting of CO alarms are only being allowed as a shortterm measure to help you manage the risk until inspection hatches have been installed. They are not an
alternative to having access to the flue.

 

How much will inspection hatches cost me?

It will vary from property to property. Inspection hatches should be at least 300mm x 300mm  and wherever possible, be positioned within 1.5m of any joint in the flue system. Therefore, some properties will only need one while others may need more.

Basic inspection hatches must comply with the Building  Regulations and are likely to cost from £75, though you may choose to fit more expensive ones for cosmetic reasons. Costs for the fitting of the inspection hatches may be extra.


Horsham Boilers can supply and install a variety of different hatches ranging from acrylic to fire rated with intumescent seals.

Prices vary dependent on type and start from just £82 + VAT.

 

Why didn't my gas engineer raise this issue when they visited last time?

If your flue could not be inspected, your gas engineer should have informed you that your  system was 'Not to Current Standards', unless there was evidence of an additional safety issue that would have required your boiler system to be declared 'At Risk' or 'Immediately Dangerous'.

Technical instructions to gas engineers have changed following a number of cases where, once inspection hatches had been installed, faults were found in flue systems. There have also been several cases where CO from a faulty boiler has been found to be
entering properties from faulty flues that are concealed within voids.

In light of this evidence, industry organisations have now decided it is right for gas engineers to classify installations with concealed flues as 'At Risk' for the safety of the occupants.

 
What does 'At Risk' mean? Can I still use my boiler?


If your system is 'At Risk' it could become dangerous in the future. Having inspection hatches installed will mean your system is no longer classified 'At Risk' (as long as there are no additional safety issues found with the boiler or flue system).

If your flue cannot be inspected, you can continue to use your boiler as normal until 31 December 2012, as long as it has undergone an appropriate safety check by a Gas Safe registered engineer and audible CO alarms (meeting BS EN 50291:2001)
have been fitted.

If you do not meet this
deadline, your gas engineer will have to turn the boiler off.

 

Why was my property built without inspection hatches in the first place?

Advances in technology allowed boilers to be put in a greater variety of positions, not just on an outside wall, suiting the development of flats and apartments where space was at a premium. This resulted in some boilers being installed, but in a way that the flue cannot be inspected to make sure it is correctly fitted and safe.

I think I have a home warranty but don't know who it is with.

When you purchased the property your solicitor should have told you who was providing the home warranty. It is possible that you have correspondence from the warranty provider. The main warranty providers in the UK are NHBC and Premier Guarantee. Depending on the age of the property Zurich Building Guarantee may have provided the warranty.

 

My home warranty has expired. What does that mean for me?

If your home warranty has expired, you or your landlord will have to meet the cost of the inspection hatches and any defects to the boiler or its flue. If you receive benefits you may be entitled to financial assistance.

 

Where do I get CO alarms and what will they cost me?

Costs from independent gas engineers will vary however Horsham Boilers can supply and install a single CO alarm will be £34 + VAT with the cost reducing by £10 + VAT for each subsequent unit per property.

CO alarms can continue to be used once inspection hatches have been installed and are recommended as an additional precaution.

 

Who do I approach to install inspection hatches?

Horsham Boilers can supply and install the requisite numbers and type of hatches required.


PLEASE CALL

 

KARL 0772 0299 384

or

DEREK 07973 505 021

TO DISCUSS EXACT REQUIREMENTS


 
What if I don't have inspection hatches fitted?

From 1 January 2013 you will not be able to have any work, including servicing, carried out on your boiler, as the gas engineer will be breaking the law.