As a home owner you have a responsibility to yourself
and the residents in your home to ensure that your gas fittings and appliances
are safe. It is very important that gas appliances are installed and regularly
checked for safety by a Gas Safe Register engineer. It is recommended that you
arrange safety checks on an annual basis.
There are around 30 deaths in the UK every year and
hundreds of serious injuries caused by Carbon Monoxide poisoning due to faulty
gas appliances and flues. When contacting a gas installer to carry out your
annual check, install a gas appliance or for another reason, always use a Gas
Safe Register engineer. These registered installers have to undertake high
levels of training in order to work with gas. Non-registered installers are
breaking the law. If your installer is not registered then you have no guarantee
that they have the necessary competencies or gas safety awareness that are
required to carry out the job safely. 93% of gas work carried out by
non-registered installers has been found to have serious safety defects.
As a landlord, you have a duty to ensure: Gas fittings
(appliances, pipework and flues) are maintained in a safe condition. All
installation, maintenance and safety checks are carried out by a Gas Safe
Register engineer. An annual safety check is carried out on each gas
appliance/flue by a Gas Safe Register engineer. Checks need to have taken place
within one year of the start of the tenancy/lease date, unless the appliances
have been installed for less than 12 months, in which case they should be
checked within 12 months of their installation date. A record of each safety
check is kept for two years A copy of the current safety check record, which can
be either a Gas Safe Register engineer Gas Safety Record or something similar,
is issued to each existing tenant within 28 days of the check being completed,
or to any new tenant before they move in (in certain cases, such as holiday
property, the record can be displayed).
Please note: An appliance service inspection will not
necessarily meet the information recording requirements of a landlord's annual
safety check, nor will the annual safety check be sufficient to provide
effective maintenance. Always ask the advice of a Gas Safe Register engineer.
Invisible, odourless and tasteless - carbon monoxide
(CO) lives up to its name as the silent killer. Exposure to relatively low
levels of this highly poisonous gas can cause brain damage or death. CO can be
produced when a gas appliance has not been correctly installed or maintained, or
a flue or chimney has become blocked. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to
those of viral infections and include drowsiness, weakness, headaches, nausea
and pains in the chest. If anyone in your house has any of these symptoms when
using a gas appliance, stop using the appliance until it has been checked by a
Gas Safe Register engineer. Consult a doctor and mention the possibility of
carbon monoxide poisoning.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
LPG is the generic name for commercial propane and
commercial butane. There are hydrocarbon products produced by the oil and gas
industries. Commercial Propane predominantly consists of hydrocarbons containing
three carbon atoms, mainly propane (C3H8). Commercial Butane predominantly
consists of hydrocarbons containing four carbon atoms, mainly n- and iso -
butanes (C4H10). They have the special property of becoming liquid at
atmospheric temperature if moderately compressed and reverting to gases when the
pressure is sufficiently reduced. Advantage is taken of this property to
transport and store these products in the liquid state, in which they are
roughly 250 times as dense as they are when gases.
There are two grades of LP Gas, butane and propane.
Butane is usually supplied to customers in cylinders, propane can be supplied in
cylinders or in bulk for storage in tanks at the customers premises. Butane is
used mainly for portable applications in mobile heaters in the home, and for
leisure activities such as boats, caravans and barbecues. Propane is the LP Gas
used for central heating, for hot-water, and gas-fires, convector heaters and,
of course, for cooking.
Remember, virtually all appliances offered for natural
gas use can be provided for LP Gas use. You must however specify that it is
required to operate on propane as details like gas jet sizes are different.
There is a lot more heat energy in a cubic foot of propane, than there is in a
cubic foot of natural gas.
Bulk Storage Supply
The usual method of providing the LP Gas system for home
heating etc. is to provide a small storage vessel which the road tanker will
deliver the liquid into. This is then connected to the house, often by a buried
pipeline so that from here it is then much the same as other piped gas supplies.
The LP Gas supplier will provide a storage vessel on hire or rental terms which
will cover its maintenance and regular inspection. The position of the storage
vessel is important and the LP Gas supplier will be able to advise you on the
detail. For instance, the road tanker must be able to park in a safe position
when making a delivery and the vessel needs to comply with Codes of Practice
which specify the distance from the house and the property boundary.
Consideration is also needed to the run of the road tanker delivery hose when
making a delivery, so that it will not cause inconvenience while it is laid out
from the hose reel.
Since the liquid in the vessel creates its own gas
pressure, no pumps are needed. When the outlet valve on top of the vessel is
open, gas will flow. In fact the pressure has to be reduced, usually in two
stages, down to the standard 37mbar for domestic appliances and pressure
regulators are incorporated in the system to achieve this. Other controls are
also provided to ensure maximum safety of supplies. These and other technical
details are set out in the Association Code of Practice 1 part 2, drawn up by
member companies. The pipework installation from the storage vessel should be
carried out by a Gas Safe Register engineer and the LP Gas supplier will be able
to provide advice on this. At the house an emergency control valve will be
provided, so that the internal gas system can be readily isolated if necessary.
LP Gas appliances like natural gas appliances are among
the most efficient available, besides being among the most environmentally
friendly forms of energy use. The latest developments include the new breed of
"condensing" boilers which reduce considerably the fuel bill by extracting even
more useful heat out of the LP Gas. For new or replacement boilers these are
worth considering. Once installed, the LP Gas supplier will fill the vessel and
will agree with you the method of providing further supplies. The supplier can
usually provide a top-up service which will ensure you always have gas on tap,
or you could choose to telephone for a refill as necessary. Cylinder Supplies
Sometimes it is not possible to fit an LP Gas storage vessel into a small
garden. An alternative is to use LP Gas cylinders which are less restricted in
terms of location. Although they come in many sizes the most appropriate for
home heating are the propane 46 or 47 kg. size. Propane cylinders are always
located outside of premises and the gas piped in. They can provide a similar
service to the bulk vessel except for large off-takes. For central heating
installations it is usual to use four cylinders, two either side of an automatic
change-over valve, often called a 'four-pack' system. The gas supply is fed from
two cylinders at a time and when they begin to run out, the automatic device
switches to the other two. Cylinders can be replaced then without interrupting
the supply. Hazards LPG (propane or butane) is a colourless liquid which readily
evaporates into a gas. It has no smell, although it will normally have an odour
added to help detect leaks. It can burn or explode when it is mixed with air and
it meets a source of ignition. It is heavier than air, so it tends to sink
towards the ground. It can flow for long distances along the ground, and can
collect in drains, gullies and cellars.
LPG is supplied in pressurised cylinders to keep it
liquefied. The cylinders are strong and not easily damaged, although the valve
at the top can be vulnerable to impact. Leaks can occur from valves and pipe
connections, most likely as a gas. LPG liquid can cause cold burns to the skin.
a) Fixed cylinder installations - If you have one or
more cylinders fixed in position for connection to an appliance, the installer
must ensure that they are located in a safe place and have all the necessary
safety devices to protect the hoses, pipework and appliances attached to them.
However you need to look after the installation. In particular you should: -
ensure the cylinders are kept secured in position and are not tampered with. -
if you have a maintenance contract (with the LPG supplier or other reputable
company) make sure they come at the specified intervals, and that any work
required is done. If the equipment is leased, make sure the owner keeps to the
lease terms regarding maintenance. Keep all the paperwork relating to the
installation for reference. - don't let anyone work on the installation unless
they are suitably trained and competent to do the work. - read the operating
instructions, and the emergency actions, and ensure that everyone who needs to
knows them and follows them carefully. - don't do any modifications which may
affect the safety of the installation, such as altering fire walls, or erecting
sheds or fences or installing electrical equipment near the cylinders. If in
doubt, ask your LPG supplier for advice. - make sure that "No Smoking" signs and
any other safety notices are maintained.
b) Cylinders not fixed in position - keep all cylinders
in a safe, well-ventilated place, preferably in the open air, and away from
occupied buildings, boundaries and sources of ignition and of heat. Make sure
the cylinders are properly secured and are kept upright.
c) In all cases: - keep rubbish and anything combustible
well away, and keep weeds and grass in the vicinity cut down. Don't use
chlorate-based weedkiller, as it can be a fire hazard. - don't let anyone have
any electrical equipment, vehicles, bonfires, barbecues or other sources of
ignition near the cylinders. Exceptions are items purpose-designed to use LPG,
such as gas-fired barbecues. Do not smoke when changing cylinders. - keep people
not involved with the installation well away from it, particularly children. -
keep vehicles well away from the installation. - make sure that the pipework or
flexible hose from the cylinders to the point of use is protected against
accidental damage and is properly supported. For underground piping, make sure
you know the route it takes, and avoid putting anything in the ground which may
damage the pipework. - report any equipment failure or damage to your supplier
without delay, and ask them for advice about what you should do. Deliveries If
you have cylinders delivered, make sure you order the right number and type of
replacements. Don't order more than you need, as you may not have space to keep
them safely. On the delivery day, make sure the parking area is clear for the
delivery vehicle. Keep away from the vehicle while the cylinders are being
handled. Return of Cylinders Local LPG suppliers and dealers can be found in the
Yellow Pages under Bottled Gas or Gas Bottles or Gas Suppliers. LPG cylinders
remain the property of the gas company and are refilled by exchange.
IF A CYLINDER IS NO LONGER NEEDED IT SHOULD BE RETURNED
TO A LOCAL DEALER OF THE COMPANY OWNING THE CYLINDER.
If A Fire Or Leak Occurs
1) Dial 999 to call the fire brigade. Tell them an LPG
tank is on the premises.
2) Tell everybody to leave the premises and go to a safe
place well away from the installation. If you have a fire alarm activate it.
3) If it is safe to do so, turn off all LPG appliances.
4) If you think that you have an LPG leak, or that a LPG
appliance is not working properly, call the LPG supplier so they can come and
5) If the leak is indoors, open doors and windows.
6) Do not switch any lights or electrical equipment on
or off, as this may cause a spark.
7) A leak in the LPG piping can be stopped by closing
the manual outlet valve on the tank, but only do this if you can approach the
valve safely. If the tank has a remotely-operated shut-off valve, operate the
control to close the valve if IT IS SAFE TO DO so.
Don't try to put out a fire involving LPG - leave it to
the fire brigade. It is safer to evacuate everyone from the area. An overheated
tank can explode. If you have fire-fighting equipment for use on paper, wood,
rubbish, etc., make sure that you know how to use it, and that it is maintained
regularly. Don't try to use it on burning LPG. A fire involving grass, rubbish,
etc. can be tackled with a fire extinguisher or hose reel IF IT IS SAFE TO DO
SO. Always call the fire brigade first. If the fire is near the tank or its
pipework, or if you can't put it out quickly - leave it.
For general advice on LPG safety, ask the enforcing authority for your premises.
For most domestic premises this is the Health and Safety Executive. For
commercial premises (such as offices, hotels and leisure/holiday facilities) it
is the environmental health department of the local authority. If in doubt
contact the local office of the Health and Safety Executive. For queries on the
use of your installation, ask the LPG supplier or equipment owner/supplier. The
LPG supplier should provide you with a 24-hour contact number for emergencies.
For advice on fire precautions, ask the fire prevention officer of your local
Detailed guidance on bulk LPG storage is available in
Code of Practice 1 Part 1 - Design, installation and operation of vessels
located above ground Part 2 - Small bulk installations for domestic purposes
Part 4 - Buried/mounded LPG storage vessels.
The Gas Safe Register
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association