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Web chats tv | Archived consumer chats | Gas safety

Home away from home - Gas Safety

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As thousands of you prepare to pack your worldly belongings into a few cardboard boxes and make the transition to university life, your parents are undoubtedly hoping that their precious offspring will be housed somewhere relatively decent.

Students looking for low-cost accommodation and inexperienced landlords wanting to cash in on the buy-to-let market has sparked concern that appliances emitting the "silent killer" could go unchecked or unnoticed in some properties. Carbon Monoxide poisoning ? from unsafe gas appliances ? cause the deaths of around 30 people each year.

A landlord must ensure that an Annual Gas Safety Check is carried out by a CORGI registered installer, and that a copy of the check is issued to each tenant within 28 days of the check, or to any new tenant before they move in. Steve Bratt, gas safety expert joined us online to answer all your questions about the stress of moving away from home for the first time.

The Transcript

Helena wants to know:

"How often should gas appliances be checked for gas safety?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Gas appliances should have a safety check every year.

Frankie wants to know:


"What's your opinion on electric heaters - I've been using one to heat my room at uni? Is gas better?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Gas is better in certain circumstances, for instance, it's often cheaper. But without knowing the full circumstances I couldn't give a specific answer. The important point is to make sure the appliance is used safely.

Georgina wants to know:


"What can happen if gas appliances aren't checked regularly? " 


Steve Bratt said:


They can produce a highly poisonous gas called Carbon Monoxide. This gas can seriously harm or even kill someone. So please make sure your gas appliances are regularly checked.

Angie wants to know:


"What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning? " 


Steve Bratt said:


The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are flu like, ie headaches, dizziness, nausea, tiredness etc. If you get any of these symptoms whilst using gas appliance, turn the appliance off, go to the doctor and ask the landlord to get a CORGI registered installer to check the appliance.

betty wants to know:


"Who is qualified to perform a gas safety check? " 


Steve Bratt said:


Only CORGI registered installers can work on gas. They possess necessary qualifications to do this work and their work is regularly inspected by CORGI. This is the law!

Anna wants to know:


"How do I know whether the gas installer is CORGI registered?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Ask to see their CORGI ID card - all registered installers carry them. On the card there is a photograph of the Installer and details of what type of work they are able to do. If you have any doubt contact CORGI (the telephone number is on the ID card). To find a CORGI registered installer you can look in Yellow Pages or Thomson Directory, on the CORGI website ( or call 0870 401 2300

Wendy wants to know:


"I have recently purchased a buy to let property in a student area. What safety checks do I have to do before I can allow tenants to live there?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Get a CORGI registered installer to do a full safety check on the property and they will issue you with a gas safety certificate. Then provide that certificate to the tenant within 28 days. This check should be done annually.

Jules wants to know:


"Does a landlord have to show proof of gas safety checks before or after I sign the contract?" 


Steve Bratt said:


It is a legal requirement for the landlord to provide a tenant with proof within 28 days of the check being carried out. We recommend a safety check is done before any re-let. The landlord should have a current gas safety certificate, and I would advise you to see it before you sign your lease.

Jude wants to know:


"Why are students in particular a group who can be particularly at risk from poorly maintained gas appliances" 


Steve Bratt said:


Statistically, rented properties have a higher risk of having unsafe gas appliances, and students traditionally inhabit some of the less desirable properties. So always ask to see a certificate!

Jennie wants to know:


"Which equipment is covered by the annual check?" 


Steve Bratt said:


All of the pipe work and gas appliances belonging to the landlord.

Emma has asked:


"What if an appliance fails the safety check?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Firstly, it should not be used. It will be recorded on the certificate and the landlord should get a CROGI registered installer to repair it or install a new appliance and make it safe.


A common question asked is : "What is a Carbon Monoxide detector?" 


Steve Bratt said:


A Carbon Monoxide detector is a device that identifies if Carbon Monoxide is present in a room. There are different forms of detectors on the market and our advice is to only use ones that have a suitable accreditation (for instance are CORGI approved or British Standard Kite marked). Carbon Monoxide detectors are useful as an extra form of warning but should not replace regular safety checks.

Robbie wants to know:


"What is Carbon Monoxide and why is it called the silent killer? " 


Steve Bratt said:


Carbon Monoxide occurs when gas doesn't burn correctly and is highly toxic. It's called the silent killer because it is difficult to detect as it has no smell or taste.The first you know that it is affecting you is when you start to suffer the symptoms.

Jon wants to know:


"Where should the installer be placed?" 


Steve Bratt said:


All detectors come with instructions advising where to install them. Normally they recommend that they should be at a relatively high level in a room containing the gas appliance and not where they would be subject to interference. The important thing is to follow the manufacturer's instruction.

Simon wants to know:


"Can I get one for free?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Many detectors are often given away for free. The best place to start is with your University or your Student Union. Some gas suppliers and local authorities often give them away as part of safety campaigns. However, if it is a rented property then clearly you need to speak with the landlord and they should provide you with one.

Sara has asked:


"Do I have to renew my carbon monoxide detector?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Again, the important thing to do is read the instructions. Some of the detectors do have a limited life span after which the sensor inside them becomes inaccurate. This is why it is important to choose one that has some form of official approval.


And are there any specific models that are recommended by CORGI? 


Steve Bratt said:


CORGI do approve some detectors and so do British Standards. More information is available on the CORGI website.

Hilary wants to know:


"What action do I take in the event of a gas escape?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Turn off the gas supply, open the windows, don't use any switches or anything that could ignite the gas and call our emergency number on 0800 111 999.

Lenny wants to know:


"Can I - as a tenant - take responsibility for these gas safety checks?" 


Steve Bratt said:


It is advisable for tenants to make sure safety checks are doneand it is clearly a sensible and safe thing to do to make sure the check is carried out. The legal responsibility lies with the landlord. But if the landlord is happy for you to do it, you should then pass a copy of the certificate to the landlord.

Brat wants to know:


"We asked our Landlord about Carbon monoxide. He said it was fine because we have a bit of paper that supposedly turns a different colour in the presence of CO. Is this legal?" 


Steve Bratt said:


We do not recommend those types of CO detectors. The idea of a detector is that it gives a warning which gets someone's attention. The type you have described simply changes colour and will only come to your attention if you happen to look at it - by the time you come to see such a device, you could already be seriously affected by Carbon Monoxide.

Gus wants to know:


"How do the detectors work?" 


Steve Bratt said:


It has a sensor inside which analyses the atmosphere and if Carbon Monoxide is present it gives off an audible warning (sound). It is similar to a smoke alarm but instead of identifying smoke it identifies Carbon Monoxide.

Justin wants to know:


"What does CORGI stand for?" 


Steve Bratt said:


It stands for the Council for Registered Gas Installers and we register people that carry out gas work and monitor the standard of their work to ensure that they work safely.

Steve Bratt


 CORGI operates the gas registration scheme on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive and are accountable to them for it's performance.


Imogen wants to know:


"What should I do if the installer is not CORGI registered and/or has falsely claimed they are CORGI registered?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Firstly do not let them do your gas work . Secondly report them to CORGI so that we can take action against them. In order to check whether an installer is registered always ask to see their ID card. The card has a photograph of the person and also has the details of the work they are able to do. If in doubt contact CORGI to check it out.

Will wants to know:


"Do you think that students are naive about health and safety issues? " 


Steve Bratt said:


I'm not sure that it's naivety but I don't think that safety is a priority amongst students. It is something that is often taken for granted and we don't see how important it is until something goes wrong. That's why we suggest students always ask to see a gas safety certificate.

Adam wants to know:


"What were the most striking statistics revealed by your survey?" 


Steve Bratt said:


The worrying statistic from our research is that over 60% of people in rented properties have never seen a gas safety certificate. This means that they do not know whether the gas appliances are safe or not.

Davey Boy wants to know:


"If i died of carbon monoxide poisoning through a faulty appliance and there was no detector could my mum sue the landlord?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Yes! If you were to be killed and the landlord had not carried out the safety checks then they would be acting illegally and could be prosecuted . The important thing is to make sure that the safety checks are done by a registered CORGI installer, so that you, your landlord (and your mum) can have confidence in your safety.

Jamie wants to know:


"What is the law concerning fire escapes in student houses. My window only opens a little bit and i have an attic room. What's more all my mates are smokers. Should i have a word with my landlord?" 


Steve Bratt said:


I am not an expert in fire regulations but clearly any property needs to meet fire safety requirements which, as I understand it, require multiple routes for exiting a building in an event of a fire. Your local fire service should be able to give you specific information and also inspect the properties to make sure it is safe.

Damien D wants to know:


"We are on gas and the fittings look like they came out of the ark, can I, and if so how can I force my landlord to get them checked?" 


Steve Bratt said:


A landlord has to have a gas appliances/fitting check for safety every year and provide a copy of the safety certificate. If they do not do this, then contact firstly your University to see if they can help you, also any bodies that your landlord is a member of such as the local authority or trade association. The Health and Safety Executive can also help. If you suspect the appliances to be unsafe then do not use them until they have been checked out.

gonzo wants to know:


"Isn't there an old wives tale about keeping budgies as a way of telling if you have a gas leak?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Well actually it was canaries and it used to work for the miners many many years ago however on a serious note if you want something to warn you of CO the electronic versions are much more reliable than the feathered versions.

Simon wants to know:


"How much is a carbon monoxide detector?" 


Steve Bratt said:


The average cost of a decent detector is less than 50.

Nell Atkins wants to know:


"My mum's heard all this news about carbon monoxide poisoning, what can I do to reassure her that I'm ok?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Be nice to her on Mother's Day and make sure you call her regularly! Staying alive is probably the best present you can give her, so make sure that you see the gas safety certificate for your rented property.

Andrew wants to know:


"What can I do if my landlord won't give me a record of the gas safety check?" 


Steve Bratt said:


Firstly, do not use the appliances if you cannot be sure that they are safe. Secondly, speak to the university and the student union to see if they can help you. If they cannot help you speak to your local HSE office or contact CORGI. If the landlord is registered either with a Trade Association or with a local authority you can also speak to them to help you. At the end of the day they have to provide you with a certificate by law.

Steve Bratt


 It has been a pleasure. Never let safety be a secondary issue and always remember you can always check out or call 0870 401 2300 for further information.

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