The British public is wasting £100 million a year to rectify illegal gas jobs that put their homes and families in immediate danger; according to new data gathered by Gas Safe Register.
The information below is taken from the Gas Safe Register website (www.gassaferegister.co.uk).
These illegal gas jobs cost an extra 25 per cent on average to rectify. They are often carried out by tradesmen who are recommended by friends or family, but are not qualified to work safely with gas.
"If you have a boiler fitted by a gas engineer who isn't registered to do the work, then you may end up paying to have it ripped out and start again which may cost you thousands of pounds. It may also put your life in danger," warns Phill Brewster, Gas Safe Register's national investigations manager.
One in five of the homes investigated by Gas Safe Register were found to be 'Immediately Dangerous' and the appliances had to be disconnected straight away to make them safe. In all cases the work had been done by an illegal gas fitter.
Yet research, carried out for Gas Safe Register, found that one in three (39%) people would trust a tradesman to do their gas work purely on recommendation from a friend or family member. Five times as many people would take a recommendation on trust, rather than actively check whether they were registered to work safely and legally on gas. Most people chose a fitter that they liked, who had been recommended and who offered a good price.
"Money may be tight so it's understandable that people ask around for recommendations in the hope of getting a good job done. But with 250,000 illegal gas jobs done every year by cowboys, it's shocking that five times as many people would hire a gas engineer simply on trust rather than checking they're safe, legal and Gas Safe registered."
For one couple, Dean and Jenny Yardley, trust in their neighbour's recommendation cost them dear. After their home was flooded, they hired a gas fitter who was recommended to them by a neighbour. The fitter put in their gas cooker and fire, then went on to fit Dean's sister's boiler. It was only when her boiler went wrong that Dean had his own gas work checked, revealing a highly dangerous gas leak which could have caused an explosion. "It cost us an extra £1,300 to sort it all out and the insurance company wouldn't pay because the gas fitter was illegal. We took the recommendation on trust and didn't think about checking him out. You don't think of asking for the card do you?" said Dean.
In the right hands gas is perfectly safe, so it's better to be gas safe than sorry. Gas Safe Register advises:
Never trust a tradesman on recommendation alone.
Always ask for the Gas Safe Register ID card. It's the only way you can guarantee that your engineer is legal.
Check on the back of the Gas Safe Register ID that the engineer is registered to carry out the work he intends to do in your home. If they're registered to fit gas boilers, it doesn't mean they are automatically qualified to put in a gas fire.
Check a gas engineer is registered by visiting http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk
After the gas work is done, nominate your home for a free gas safety check. If your home is chosen, the inspector will check that the gas work is the correct standard.
For more advice on avoiding illegal gas fitters visit http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk