Badly fitted, damaged, poorly serviced or faulty gas appliances can put you at risk of gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. It is important to know what steps you can take to stay safe in your home.
Signs that your appliances need servicing
Gas appliances should be serviced regularly but if you notice any of the warning signs below you should arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to service your appliance as soon as possible:
- your gas appliance is not working properly
- your appliance is burning with a lazy yellow flame instead of a crisp blue flame
- you can see black marks or stains on or around your gas appliances
- the pilot light keeps going out
- there is increased condensation in the room
- damage or signs of corrosion on gas pipework, such as rusting or green discolouration
Badly fitted or poorly maintained gas appliances can produce a highly poisonous gas called carbon monoxide (CO) which can leak into your home. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but it can be deadly or cause serious long term health problems such as brain damage.
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are similar to flu, food poisoning, viral infections and tiredness. It is common for people to mistake this very dangerous poisoning for something else. The six main symptoms to look out for are:
- loss of consciousness
It’s a good idea to fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm in your home, which will alert you to the presence of any carbon monoxide in the air.
What to do in an emergency
If you smell gas or start feeling ill when gas appliances are in use, it is important to act quickly.
- get fresh air immediately. Open all doors and windows to ventilate the room
- switch off the appliance and do not use it again until it has been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer
- turn off the gas supply at the mains
- call the National Gas Emergency number 0800 111 999
- if you are feeling ill contact NHS 111 or your GP or the hospital immediately and tell them that your symptoms may be related to carbon monoxide poisoning
- contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to check and fix the appliance.
Having a gas safety check
All of your gas appliances, including your gas boiler, gas cooker and gas fire should be safety checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer, ideally once a year.
A gas safety check involves a Gas Safe registered engineer inspecting your gas appliances. They will check the appliance is working correctly and will check the following four areas:
- Gas appliances are on the right setting and burning correctly with the correct operating pressure
- Harmful gases are being removed from the appliance safely to the air outside
- That any ventilation routes are clear and working properly
- All the safety devices are working
Worried about the cost of a gas safety check? Care & Repair Newcastle has a small fund available from the Gas Safe Charity to help older or disabled people pay for a gas safety check, servicing or repairs.
The check will identify any defects which require repair work.
The Gas Safe Register
The Gas Safe Register is the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on your gas appliances. When you have your gas appliances fitted, fixed or serviced, always use a gas engineer who is on the Gas Safe Register.
All Gas Safe registered engineers carry an ID card to prove their identity when they turn up at your door – if they don’t show you then don’t be afraid to ask to see it. To find a gas safe registered business in your area contact the Gas Safe Register.
The Gas Safe Register have an online article showing you how to check the ID card.
Paying for a gas safety check
You may be entitled to a free gas safety check if you are over Pension age and you are on a means tested benefit such as Income Support or Universal Credit. However, you will need to check with your energy provider for more information.
If you rent your home
Landlords are responsible for making sure gas appliances are well maintained, annually checked and that a record of each gas safety check is provided for tenants in a wide range of accommodation, including:
- housing associations, privately rented accommodation, housing co-operatives, hostels
- bed-sit accommodation, private households, bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels
- rented holiday accommodation such as chalets, cottages, flats, caravans and narrow boats on inland waterways.
Please note that these rules do not apply for any gas appliances you bring into rented accommodation yourself.
Other useful information
There are various options available to help you heat your home, including:
- Winter Fuel Payments – government payments to help you keep warm in winter
- Cold Weather Payments – are made to help you keep warm over extended cold spells of weather.
- Energy Services, Newcastle City Council – provide advice, information, access to grants towards cavity wall and loft insulation, central heating and other energy efficiency measures.
See Help with heating problems and how to pay for them for more information.
Last updated: May 11, 2022