I wanted to make a public comment on something one of my suppliers threw at me earlier this week. I was commenting that over the last couple of weeks I’ve had been undertaking a lot more Landlord Gas Safety Certificates than usual. My suppplier said ‘that’s great! It’s easy money, isnt it?’ My comment wasn’t really what he expected.
First things first, gas safety certificates are not easy money. Unless of course you think robbing banks is easy money. Let me explain what I mean. The main task in a landlord safety check is to make sure that the property is safe to live in. If it’s safe then a certificate will be issued, if it’s not safe the either the situation will be rectified and/or the gas or an appliance may be shut off. If the proper checks are undertaken the following scenario (in laymens terms) should be as follows:
- arrive at the property
- immediatly start looking at flue locations and how high or how close to an opening door, widow or air brick, etc
- visual on chimneys and brick workand type of terminals
- location of outside gas meter
- knock on door and ask what gas appliances are in the property and then have a look to make sure they are all off, isolated and that pilots are extinguised
- locate the gas meter and undertake a soundness check (to make sure gas is not leaking into the property from the main gas valve and then test to make sure gas isn’t leaking into the property from the pipe work), check that the gas pipe is earthed to the house electrics, make sure that pipe work is labled GAS and check that the Meter Control Valve is labled correctly so that the home owner/renter can turn the gas off in the event of emergency
- if all is safe then it’s time to check each appliance and I always start with cookers
- check the cooker or hob to make sure that the rings are working properly and that the flame picture (the look of the flame) is correct (blue flame with sharp crisp edges and not orange), if there is a cooker and a grill the same test is completed, all safety devices are also checked (if installed) to make sure that the gas is shut off automatically in the event of flame failure, also all controls are checked to make sure that they are working properly, gas hoses and/or gas isolation valves are visually checked for correct location, wear or damage to hoses, ect
- the boiler is my next visit. I do a visual on the pipe work, looking for things like earthing staps, correct fitting of pipe work, I also look for signs of leakage around the boiler, correct fitting of condensate pipe work and pressure releif valve pipe work, the flue connection and the make sure that the boiler is secure (really, I’ve seen a couple of boilers that were being held up by the pipe work only!) (and I’ve also seen a flue that had no brick work around it, just a big ole in the wall with a bit of fibreglass insulation stuffed around it!), fire up the boiler and see how much gas it’s burining and compare it to the manufacturers specifictions, check the gas pressure at the appliance and check to make sure the safety device(s) are working correctly
- now the tricky bit – gas fires. Gas fire checks should also include a flue flow test wherby a smoke capsule is inserted into the flue and then the property is checked for signs that smoke has leaked through the brickwork due to bad mortar or cracked bricks. The entire length of the flue should be checked from bottom to top and yes that means up in the loft too and also outside to see that smoke is coming from the terminal only and not around the brickwork
- The gas fire then needs to be removed and the flue plate removed in order to physically and visually check the inside of the flue (I have found one fire that still had an old flue damper installed and was not wedged open – it could haave popped close at any time causing certain death to the home owner!). If the catchment space behind the fire is clean and the flue is in good condition then the flue plate can be re-sealed and the fire re-installed. Now the fire needs to be checked to make sure that the fire is burning correctly (visual checks for flame picture and a smoke match is lit to visually see that the flue is working correctly and that no smoke is entering back into the room) (this test is done with all doors and windows closed and any fans on and running and if the fan is reversable the test needs to be done again with the fan running in reverse), safety device is tested next.
- the average property takes from 30-45 minutes to complete – maybe longer if there are several gas fires
- if all of the above tests pass then a certificate will be issued with my signature on it stating that the property is safe
- if any of the tests fail then depending on what failed and what reason the result could be to disable the appliance or it could be as major as turning off the gas to the property
- Easy Money! Not really. Consider the gas engineers who run through a property in as little as fifteen minutes to test a boiler, cooker and two gas fires (I know of two properties that the CORGI Reg engineer didn’t udertake flure flow or spllage test in gas fires and one test where the engineer didn’t even look at the gas meter!)
So as I said earlier you can fake a landlord report or rob a bank for easy money. The result is exatly the same. If all goes well and no one gets hurt you can skio steps in the landlord check and make a few quid quickly or you can rob a bank and make a few quid quickly. If all goes bad however and someone gets killed because you didn’t notice a dead bird blocking the flue or you accidently kill someone during your robbery your life is going to change drastically.
If you cheat on the gas safety checks then you really are playing Russian Roulette with the not only the tenants life but yours too. If you someone is killed because you didn’t check properly you will have BIG problems. Oh, and while I’m on the sbuject, all you landlords who figure that the cheapest gas engineer is the best – you’ll be going to court too as the property and the safety of the tenants is YOUR resposabilty.
So are Landlord Gas Safety Certificates Easy Money!!! No, I don’t think they are.