Installers will be legally required to record levels of flue gas carbon monoxide and the combustion ratio when commissioning condensing boilers, as of April 2014.
Part of new Benchmark Commissioning Checklists, these measures aim to protect installers by providing evidence that a newly installed boiler is left running safely and efficiently. The checklist must be left with the boiler, as Gas Safe Register will defect installations for non-compliance if the levels are not recorded.
Full details can be found in Gas Safe Register’s Technical Bulletin 143, issued in July 2013. However, Barry Atkins, managing director of PASS, the independent test equipment expert, has warned that many gas fitters and boiler engineers in the UK may still be unaware of the new mandatory regulations.
"The majority of homes in Britain have the potential to generate and emit harmful gasses into the environment from their heating systems,” Mr Atkins said. “A flue gas analyser allows a trained engineer to inspect the waste gasses being produced and correctly diagnose possible issues.”
There are a number of different constituents of flue gas, ranging from harmless gasses such as nitrogen, oxygen and water vapour, to far more hazardous chemicals such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Lee Robinson, UK customer service director at Baxi, has emphasised the dangers of CO – statistics from the Department of Health suggest that exposure to the gas is responsible for around 50 deaths, 200 hospital admittances and 4,000 low-level poisoning cases in the UK every year.
"As carbon monoxide can be produced by the incomplete burning of gas, it is essential that gas appliances such as boilers operate correctly and safely,” said Mr Robinson. “We welcome any legislation that helps to identify potential safety issues, and that enables heating engineers to prove their installations are safe.”
He went on to explain that in order to complete the flue gas test to the required standard, installers will need a BS 7967 specified electronic combustion gas analyser with a valid calibration certificate. For installers who are unfamiliar with monitoring flue gas levels with this kind of equipment, Baxi offers a one-day course on ‘Combustion Performance Analysis’ for Gas Safe Registered installers, which covers the science of combustion, the new regulations and how to use a flue gas analyser on domestic heating equipment.
"It's important to understand that the Benchmark Commissioning Checklist is not 'red tape' to tell installers how to do their jobs – it provides reassurance for installers and their customers by demonstrating that a new boiler is running safely and efficiently, offering peace of mind for everyone,” said Mr Robinson. "It is also best practice for an installer to recommend the use of a CO detector with an audible alarm, in addition to an annual service."
Audible CO alarms have recently been the attention of a Plumb and Parts Center campaign, as the company made a call to government to extend tough laws on audible CO detectors. Scotland and Northern Ireland have legislation in place to tackle CO poisoning, and Plumb and Parts Center believes this should cover the whole of the UK.
“In Northern Ireland and Scotland, CO alarms are a legal requirement when new or replacement boilers, solid fuel or gas appliances are installed – and we’d like to see tougher regulations in England and Wales,” said Plumb and Parts marketing manager Gail van Dijk.
This call to action comes as Plumb and Parts Center prepares to launch its April Wise up to CO campaign, tying in with the new flue gas legislation.
In a similar vein, Sprue Safety Products has campaigned to increase awareness of CO. The company is donating one CO alarm to the Gis A Hug foundation for every 20 FireAngel CO-9XT alarms sold from wholesalers and merchants taking part. So far, participating stockists across the region have sold thousands of alarms, which will see hundreds more CO-9XTs donated to groups supported by the charity.
Brian Trueman, Sprue’s area specification manager for Scotland and Ireland, said: “The Gis A Hug Foundation does a tremendous job in raising awareness of carbon monoxide and has already provided thousands of CO alarms to the elderly, students and other vulnerable groups."