Expert Advice & News

Law change required for rogue installers

Britain’s best known plumber, Charlie Mullins, is highlighting a potentially life-threatening loophole that allows rogue gas engineers and DIY’ers to install central heating systems.

While engineers have to prove to customers they are ‘Gas Safe’ registered, the same requirement does not cover the purchase of boilers and gas-related equipment.

This makes it easier for rogue engineers to dupe customers into believing they are registered or allow an amateur to try and fit a boiler to their own property.

Although some builders’ merchants will check their customers’ registration, the increase in internet-based suppliers is making it easier to buy equipment online without any checks being made.

Poorly-installed or badly maintained heating systems can create the risk of poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gas re-entering a property causing a potential danger to life.

Charlie, who is the CEO of Pimlico Plumbers, believes the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) needs to extend its regulation of the market to the purchase or gas equipment, which can be enforced by a change to the law.

Charlie said: “It ludicrous to think that anyone can walk in off the street or click their mouse and buy boilers and gas equipment.  In the wrong hands it’s a lethal weapon and used incorrectly people will end up dead.

“Sure, there are some merchants who refuse to sell to anyone unless they can prove they are Gas Safe Registered, but it’s by no means all of them.  Rogue fitters can also head to the badlands of the internet where it’s a lot easier to get hold of this stuff.

“Of course, it’s not illegal for non-Gas Safe people to buy the equipment, but they can’t legally install it. However, once a cowboy gas fitter or over enthusiastic amateur has taken possession of the potentially lethal technology the law is powerless to save lives.

“All that can be done from this point onwards is to prosecute after the fact, which if we’re lucky will be for carrying out illegal gas work. However, all too often, such prosecutions occur after a life-taking tragedy.”

Charlie suggests: “The truth of the matter is there’s only one opportunity to protect people from this dangerous legal anomaly and that’s to make it illegal to buy gas equipment without a Gas Safe ticket.

“We have built ourselves a pretty decent safety system to protect people from monoxide poisoning, so why do we insist on retaining a great big hole in the net?  The law needs to be changed because this is something that will save lives.”