10/14/2008

Safety alert on gas appliance flues in ceiling voids

The British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a safety alert aimed
at builders and developers, managing agents, landlords and occupiers of
residential properties with gas central heating boilers sited on internal
walls. The purpose of the alert is to raise awareness of a potential poisoning
risk.

The risk arises from a particular arrangement of flues for gas boilers. Such
boilers, most commonly found in multi-storey flats and apartments built since
2000, may have a flue that runs through the ceiling void. If the flue is not in
good condition, this could affect the performance of the boiler, which if not
working efficiently, may produce high levels of carbon monoxide (CO). This may
then enter the ceiling void through any breaks in the flue (e.g. if joints are
not sealed properly) and into the living space below, placing occupants at risk
of CO poisoning.

When commissioning, servicing or maintaining boilers, gas installers need to be
able to visually check the flue system. Where a flue runs through a ceiling or
similar void, a means of access should be provided at strategic locations. A
number of properties built recently have not been provided with such means of
access so it is not possible to tell if the flue was correctly installed or has
subsequently deteriorated.

HSE is working with property developers, the gas industry and construction
trade associations to try and establish how many properties may have been
developed with flues in ceiling voids but without means of access for
inspection, and to agree appropriate action. Relevant Government departments
have also been alerted.

In the meantime, HSEs advice to property owners and landlords is to ensure gas
appliances are serviced and maintained at least annually by a competent,
registered installer. HSE also recommends the use of carbon monoxide alarms as
a supplementary measure.

The safety alert gives advice on potential warning signs; what owners or
tenants should do if they think they may be at risk; relevant legal
requirements; key actions for property developers and sources of further
information.


More info


AplusA-online.de - Source: Health and Safety Executive