Gas boiler

My gas boiler in nearing the end of its life.
By law am I alowed to install a new one? I think I could proabably
handle the water and electricity and then pay a man to come in and do
the gas side of things but do the regs alow this?
Would save me a lot of money!
Many thanks for your help.
Chris
By the way I am NOT a trained plumber, electrician or gas man!
Reply to
cj
Yes, provided that you are "competent"
They do, but the man may not.
Reply to
Andy Hall
Thats great but what does 'competent' mean. I have no formal qualifacations to prove I can do anything.
Reply to
cj
I think in reality it's a fairly meaningless test, which can only be applied after the event. If you manage to poison your loved ones with CO or reduce the house to rubble in an explosion then you are (or were) not competent.
Reply to
Martin Pentreath
Out of interest I just had a look to see whether the question of what "competent" means has come up in court. Here's a Scottish case from 1991 on it for anyone who's interested. Makes an interesting story of gas incompetence in its own right!
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WILLIAM PATERSON & JOHN McPHERSON (Appellants) against ROBERT FERGUSON LEES Respondent (Procurator Fiscal, Edinburgh)
1992 S.C.C.R. 300
12th December 1991 Appeal Court, High Court of Justiciary
SUMMARY:
Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1984 makes it an offence to carry out gas fitting work without being competent to do so. The appellants were convicted of a contravention of that regulation in respect of the installation of a gas boiler and appealed by stated case. The sheriff rejected an adjustment proposed by the respondent which sought a finding in fact of incompetence, the reason given for the rejection being that this was not a matter of fact but of opinion to be drawn from the facts. In his note the sheriff listed a number of features, such as the absence of proper flueing and the failure to install permanent ventilation. He also described what had been done as exhibiting a series of cardinal errors showing a woeful lack of elementary knowledge.
Held (1) that the sheriff should have made a finding in fact of incompetence and that the court would proceed on the basis of the rejected adjustment; and (2) that there is a distinction between negligence, which involves carelessness in the execution of work which one knows how to do properly, and incompetence, which is not knowing how to do it properly, and that the sheriff was entitled to hold that the appellants were not competent to install the boiler; and appeal refused.
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FULL REPORT:
William Paterson and John McPherson were charged in the sheriff court at Edinburgh that, inter alia:
'(1) On 31st October 1986 at the flat occupied by Jacqueline Wells, 12 Rossie Place, Edinburgh, you did carry out work in relation to a gas fitting, namely did install a Glow-worm Fuelsaver 30 MkII open-flued gas central-heating boiler in the kitchen of the said flat without being competent to do so: contrary to regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1984, as made under section 31 of the Gas Act 1972, as amended by section 14 of the Oil and Gas (Enterprise) Act 1982, section 67(3) and Schedule 8, paragraph 6 of the Gas Act 1986, and sections 15 and 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; and in terms of section 34 of said last- mentioned Act, as amended by section 67(1) and Schedule 7, paragraph 18 of the Gas Act 1986, evidence sufficient in the opinion of the Health and Safety Executive to justify proceedings came to the knowledge of the Health and Safety Executive on 11th December 1989.' Evidence was heard on 30th January and 5th, 12th and 14th February 1991. The accused were convicted on 20th February 1991 and appealed to the High Court by stated case. The sheriff (Crowe) made, inter alia, the following findings in fact: '1. The appellants are both full-time firemen. They have worked part- time as plumbers trading as "McPherson and Paterson". They installed an open-flue gas central-heating boiler at the then home of Miss Jacqueline Wells at 12 Rossie Place, Edinburgh. Said work was carried out in October 1986, the boiler being a Glow-worm Fuelsaver (30) MkII. They were paid a total of =A32,285 for said work. Notwithstanding their choice of part-time trade, neither appellants were apparently conversant with or had a gas tightness gauge, which is an essential piece of equipment used in gas fittings.
2. Said boiler was installed on an internal wall in the kitchen of said house, it being on the ground floor of a tenement. As the burner for said boiler is fuelled by gas, an adequate supply of air is required to ensure efficient combustion. There was no permanent air vent to supply air to said boiler either in the kitchen itself or in the adjoining living-room from which it was separated by louvred doors. This was contrary to the installation instructions (Production No. 2), paragraph 2.5.1.
3. When installed said boiler flue rose vertically for an adequate distance and then turned at right angles and ran horizontally before terminating slightly proud of the exterior face of the outside wall. This was contrary to paragraph 2.3.1 of Production No.2 and paragraphs 12.5 and 12.8.3 of Production No.3, which was the Code of Practice BS 5440. Said flue was inserted through a piece of board covering the aperture of a blocked-off window. Adjoining said flue pipe was an extractor fan of the "Xpelair" variety. Said fan was installed by the electrician who was asked by the appellants on the complainer's behalf to wire up the boiler. There was no other window in said kitchen. No apparent steps had been taken to comply with paragraph 2.6, Production No.2.
4. In December 1988 the boiler emitted black smoke. The burner was found to be sooted up. The appliance was certified unsafe by the Gas Board pending modification. . . .
13. An open-flued boiler is impractical in a ground-floor flat of a tenement unless it can be vented to an existing chimney. Otherwise the flue pipe would have to extend to above the height of the eaves of the building but the cooling effect on the exhaust gases would be such as to cause them to condense and preclude the efficient working of the flue, leading to a risk of flue gases spilling into the room in which the boiler was situated. Production No.3 at paragraph 12.6 deals with such problems.
14. The recommended form of boiler in such a flat is [a] balanced flue boiler or fan-assisted boiler. Both draw air from outside the building and expel combustion products to the open air. Both are sealed from the atmosphere of the room in which they operate.
15. The installation of an Xpelair fan in a non-ventilated room containing an open-flue boiler would possibly cause spillage of combustion products from the boiler into the atmosphere of the room, as the operation of the fan exhausts the air from the room with possible reversal of the operation of the boiler flue.
16. Although there was no permanent ventilation in the kitchen or living-room, there was a blocked-off fireplace in the living-room. There was a brick missing from the bricked-up fireplace. Behind said brick was soot and debris. As the open-flued boiler flue was at a lesser height than the chimney which served the living-room then, assuming the chimney to be un-obstructed, the draw in the chimney would tend to overcome the draw in the boiler flue, thus pulling combustion products into the room.
17. The insertion of right-angled bends in a flue is bad practice. They restrict the natural convection effect of the hot gases. They cause turbulence. They enhance the likelihood of spillages into the room.
18. The termination of a flue close to and at right angles to an external wall is bad practice. There is a lessening of the draught which would dispel the flue gases and create a vacuum, thus creating a draught in the flue. The termination of the flue parallel but close to the extension wall when coupled with a further right-angled bend is bad practice. The additional bend mitigates against creating a good draught and the proximity of the terminal to the external wall reduces the effective air circulation surrounding same.'
In his note the sheriff stated, inter alia: 'With regard to charge (1) I had to have regard to the question of "competence" within the meaning of the Regulations. I was referred by Mr Clancy [counsel for the appellants] to Brazier v The Skipton Rock Co. Ltd. It seemed to me that one must assess the competence in a practical way using ordinary values. I accept that a competent person may act in a negligent manner but it did not seem to me that the scenario here was of that nature. The appellants committed a series of cardinal errors and indeed, when recalled after the first incident, still remained blind to what was obvious to the competent fitters from the Gas Board who gave evidence. In making my findings I included the last sentence in finding 1--not because it had any direct bearing on the charges but because it served to underline the appellants' woeful lack of elementary knowledge. I was told that the gas tightness gauge was a simple "U" tube with liquid therein which would detect any leaks in the system between the meter and the several appliances and that the gauge was used as a matter of routine in all installations and servicing. . . .
'The procurator fiscal depute said that their lack of competence was adequately illustrated by: (a) The installation of an open-flued boiler in a tenement ground- floor flat with no proper flueing. (b) The failure to install any permanent ventilation. (c) The right-angled bend and the horizontal run in the flue. (d) The insertion of the Xpelair. (e) The fitting of the terminal on the surface of the wall in contravention of paragraph 12.8.3 of Production No.3. (f) The uncorroborated but unchallenged evidence of the brick missing from the blocked-off fireplace. (g) The installation of the boiler on an internal wall. 'I would concur with what she said, with the exception of paragraph (f). Although clearly the installation on the internal wall increased the length of the flue, I would not be prepared to hold that this was bad practice, merely undesirable. In fairness I should also add that there was no evidence as to when the brick went missing from the fireplace, other than that it was missing on 25th November 1989.'
The respondent proposed, inter alia, the following adjustment: 'Finding in fact 1, add "Neither appellant was competent to install said boiler".'
The sheriff rejected that adjustment, and gave as his reason: 'I rejected the adjustments to [finding] in fact 1. . . . It seemed to me that [this is] not [a] matter of fact but [a] matter of opinion to be drawn from the facts.'
The appeal was heard on 20th November 1991 by the Lord Justice-Clerk (Ross), Lord Morison and Lord Caplan. For the appellants: Hamilton, Q.C., instructed by Erskine, MacAskill & Co., Solicitors, Edinburgh. For the respondent: Macdonald, Q.C., A.-D.
On 12th December 1991 the Lord Justice-Clerk delivered the following opinion of the court.
Lord Justice-Clerk. The appellants are William Paterson and John McPherson. They went to trial in the sheriff court at Edinburgh on a complaint libelling two charges. The first charge libelled a contravention of regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1984, and the second charge libelled a contravention of regulation 4(3) of the same Regulations. After a fairly lengthy trial both appellants were found guilty as libelled; they were each fined =A3350 on the first charge and =A3500 on the second charge. They have both appealed against conviction and sentence by means of a stated case. In opening the appeal, Mr Hamilton on behalf of both appellants drew attention to the terms of the Regulations which were said to have been breached. Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1984 (S.I. No.1358) provides as follows: 'No person shall carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting unless he is competent to do so.' Regulation 4(3) of the same Regulations provides: 'No person shall carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting otherwise than in a proper and workman-like manner.' As regards the conviction of the appellants on charge (1), Mr Hamilton pointed out that the essence of the charge was that work had been carried out by the appellants when they were not competent to do the work. He drew attention to the fact that there was no finding in fact to the effect that the appellants were not competent to do the work, and he submitted that that was fatal to their conviction on this charge. He recognised under reference to a letter dated 15th April 1991 from the Crown Office with proposed adjustments for the respondent, that the respondent had invited the sheriff to make a finding to the following effect: 'Neither appellant was competent to install said boiler'. The sheriff has indicated [in] the stated case that he rejected that adjustment as it appeared to him that this was not a matter of fact but a matter of opinion to be drawn from the facts. The advocate-depute pointed out under reference to Mundie v Cardle that the sheriff was under misapprehension regarding this and that he ought to have made a finding in fact in these terms. We agree with the advocate-depute that the sheriff has not dealt with this issue properly. It is clear from the sheriff's note that he accepted the submission of the respondent's depute to the effect that lack of competence on the part of the appellants had been established. He clearly drew an inference of lack of competence from a number of factors which were placed before him. In these circumstances what the sheriff ought to have done was to record the inference which he had drawn from the facts as part of his findings in fact. What the sheriff has failed to do is to state the case in accordance with what the court said in Mundie v Cardle. In that case it was pointed out that if a sheriff has drawn an inference from the facts, then the inference which he has drawn should be recorded as part of his findings in fact. Accordingly, provided that the sheriff was justified in drawing the inference, he ought to have made a finding in fact to the effect that neither appellant was competent to install said boiler. In terms of section 452(4)(f) [of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975] this court is entitled in hearing this appeal to take account of any matter proposed in any adjustment rejected by the trial judge and of the reasons for such rejection. We are accordingly entitled to proceed upon the basis that the sheriff was satisfied by the evidence that the appellants were not competent to install the gas boiler. It is, however, necessary for this court to consider whether the sheriff was entitled to draw that inference from the facts found proved. The question then arises as to what is meant by the words 'unless he is competent to do so'. Mr Hamilton drew attention to Brazier v The Skipton Rock Co. Ltd. That case concerned regulations requiring an inspection to be carried out by a competent person. When considering what was meant by a competent 'In my judgment it means a man who, on a fair assessment of the requirements of the task, of the factors involved, the problems to be studied and the degree of risk of danger implicit, can fairly as well as reasonably be regarded by the manager, and in fact is regarded at the time by the manager, as competent to perform such an inspection.' Mr Hamilton also referred to Gibson v Skibs A/S Marina. In that case under different regulations examination and testing required to be 'I think that a competent person for this task is a person who is a practical and reasonable man, who knows what to look for and knows how to recognise it when he sees it.' Mr Hamilton maintained that the test was an objective one. He also submitted that a competent person might make a mistake and might be negligent, and he maintained that on the findings made in the present case no inference of lack of competence could be drawn. At the highest the appellants might be thought to have been negligent but he maintained that there was no justification for drawing the inference that they lacked competence. Mr Hamilton subjected the findings which the sheriff made in relation to charge (1) to a close examination. We do not, however, consider it necessary to consider these findings seriatim. In his note the sheriff sets out various factors based upon the findings in fact which the Crown maintained demonstrated lack of competence. These are numbered (a) to (g). Before this court the advocate-depute founded only upon the items (a) to (e). When considering what was meant by the words 'unless he is competent to do so' in regulation 3(1) the advocate- depute accepted that there was a distinction between being negligent and being incompetent. He submitted that essentially it was a difference between knowing how to do the job properly and being careless in the execution of the work on the one hand and not knowing how to do it properly in the first place on the other hand. A man lacked competence if he did not know how to do the job properly in the first place. In our opinion that distinction drawn by the advocate- depute is a valid one. A person who is competent to carry out any work is a person who has the knowledge and ability necessary to perform it properly. In the light of the factors listed (a) to (e) the sheriff was entitled to draw an inference of lack of competence. These factors upon which he relied are as follows.
(a) The installation of an open-flued boiler in a tenement ground- floor flat with no proper flueing.
(b) The failure to install any permanent ventilation.
(c) The right-angled bend and the horizontal run in the flue.
(d) The insertion of the Xpelair.
(e) The fitting of the terminal on the surface of the wall in contravention of paragraph 12.8.3 of Production No.3, being the British Standard Code of Practice for flues and air supply for gas appliances of the type installed in the present case.
Having regard to the foregoing factors, we are satisfied that the sheriff was entitled to draw the inference that neither of the appellants had the knowledge and ability to do the job properly and that accordingly neither was competent to install the boiler.
Reply to
Martin Pentreath
You can do it yourself BUT you will have to make a Building Regs application, possibly upgrade other parts of the system especially the controls [1], and the boiler manufacturer may not honour a warranty if the commissioning certificate wasn't signed by a CORGI.
Owain
[1] This may involve new electrical work, which if the boiler is in the kitchen will be notifiable under Part pee.
Reply to
Owain
There is no definition in the legislation - the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 - does not have one for it.
Look in section 3 at
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does go on to say that employed/self employed people (i.e. fitters doing gas work for reward), must be a member of the class of persons... etc.
The HSE has this defined as being a member of CORGI.
So there is nothing to say that you may explicitly do gas work if you are competent, only that you may not if you aren't. This is a known hole in the legislation to which the HSE periodically refers. You can look up gas safety on their web site.
The legislation here was put together following the explosions at Ronan Point and various others and was targeted to try and remove cowboy gas fitters from the market. How successful that is is debatable. The HSE is also aware that DIY gas work happens and needless to say CORGI and other commercially interested parties would like to see it outlawed. If you look on their sites, you will see that they use weasel words like "may be illegal".
Nonetheless, the HSE has not sought to do this to date, partly because there seems little evidence of problems and partly because of difficulty of enforcement.
So..... in effect this means that you would not be breaking the law if you are competent, and there is no definition of what competent means, neither does it appear that there have been any test cases on it.
However, if you were to undertake the work, and a problem happened such that you blew up your neighbours, it would probably be a little awkward.
There is now legislation in place (Part P of the Building Regulations) related to electrical work. Depending on the circumstances of the installation, the work may need to be undertaken and self certified professionally, or you may need to notify Building Control at your local authority.
Overall, it's up to you. If you were looking for chapter and verse authorising you to do the exercise as DIY then you won't find it; but then neither will you find chapter and verse saying that you can't.
You have to decide a) whether you are competent and b) given that that you understand that there is a level of risk if something bad were to happen.
Reply to
Andy Hall
Which in short says that the conclusion of incompetence was drawn through a number of installation mistakes that a competent person would not have made rather than membership of a trade association or formal training.
Reply to
Andy Hall
Rather steals CORGI's thunder! Also, to answer CJ's original question, the test that the court came up with for competence towards the end of the judgment is:
"A person who is competent to carry out any work is a person who has the knowledge and ability necessary to perform it properly."
Which I suspect is probably pretty much what the dictionary says!
Reply to
Martin Pentreath
It's reassuring that our fire brigades are staffed with safety-conscious people committed to preserving life.
I wonder if they received a visit from an income tax inspector shortly after the case...
Owain
Reply to
Owain
I think that's a fair answer. The OP can also read the gas fitting and Boiler Choice FAQs for further elaboration.
Reply to
Ed Sirett
Yes - in other words, if you do consider going down this route, just try contacting a few CORGI fitters and put your proposal to them: I suspect you'll not find a single one who will even consider it, simply because they have enough work to be able to cherry pick the decent jobs, and half a project with a diy'er is definitely not one of them!
David
Reply to
Lobster
One possibility might be to do it, with all due regard to current regs (and make it look tidy), then get a CORGI man in to service it and provide a certificate for a landlord as to its safety, which would be around £50 to £75, depending on where you are
Nick
Reply to
Nick
In message , Andy Hall writes
Formal training or not, there are a lot of CORGIs out there who should not be allowed anywhere near a boiler from the competence point of view
Reply to
geoff
£2,285 to install a Glow-worm Fuelsaver in October 1986? That must be equivalent to BG prices today?!
And they were each fined £350 on the first charge and £500 on the second charge. Would make it worth their while to carry on :-(
Reply to
John Stumbles
Ah, but that's a different issue entirely.
The legal process would deem that they were implicitly competent by virtue of the membership and the insurance would kick in.
The increased cost of premiums would be spread across all of the adherents and then paid for by the punters.
As ever was.
Reply to
Andy Hall
In message , Andy Hall writes
yes, but I thought I'd have a rant
yes, unfortunate, isn't it
Reply to
geoff

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