The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a statement alerting UK house builders, developers, property owners and home occupiers of a poisoning risk associated with flues for gas boilers.
Who should read this alert?
Property owners, landlords and tenants living in or responsible for, properties with gas central heating appliances (boilers) that are located on internal walls. These types of boilers may have a flue that runs through the ceiling void (the space between the ceiling and floor of the room above); within a purpose built enclosure/duct or even through another property.
Builders, property developers, managing agents and gas installers.
Why is this alert being issued?
To raise awareness of the potential dangers from certain types of flues connected to gas-fired central heating installations in some properties.
HSE has become aware that some of these flues may not have been installed properly, or may have fallen into disrepair without anyone noticing.
If the flue is not in good condition, this can affect the performance of the boiler. If the boiler is not working efficiently it may start to produce high levels of harmful carbon monoxide (CO) gas.
CO may then enter the ceiling void/enclosure through any breaks in the flue (e.g. where joints are not sealed properly or where the flue material has degraded over time). It could then enter the living spaces above and below the flue.
A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation said:
“We have been co-operating fully with the HSE to enable them to ascertain the exact problem with these types of heating systems and its implications for all buildings. We are also working with CORGI to see how we can ensure CORGI installers check and carry out any necessary remedial work on such heating systems.”
The warning means house builders must carry out extensive checks on new and existing properties to find out how well flues have been installed. Some of these properties may require remedial works. The HSE has advised house builders which have to check a high number of properties that a sample method may be used to assess the situation.
Properties yet to be sold or being built may also require work to ensure the safety of the systems, and those on the drawing board potentially redesigned. Key to the checks will be the need to establish whether access is available to check the route of the flue through ceilings and into roofs. This is required under CORGI technical standards published in June 2007. For more details http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/alert021008.htm#who
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