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Saturday, 11 May 2013

Is it OK to for Me to Replace Parts & Fix My own Boiler in the UK?

Most people would never attempt their own boiler repairs - just as well because if you are not qualified to do so:
  • it is against the law!
  • it could do more damage to your boiler
  • it could be dangerous - threatening the lives of you, your family and your neighbours.
You have to be qualified to work on gas pipework and gas fittings, even in your own home.
The boiler is defined as both an appliance and a gas fitting by the Gas Safety Regs (1998).
Only Gas Safe Registered engineers (and a few other trained & competent engineers) are allowed to remove the cover from your boiler and touch parts not intended for every day use by the home owner.
Unless you are qualified you cannot attempt any DIY repairs on your boiler - even parts of the boiler that do not seem gas related - such as replacing a fan.

DIY gas boiler repairs 

A minority of people do their own repairs and they probably think it is OK, but they are breaking the law:
The Gas Safety Installation & Use Regulations 1998:
3.—(1) No person shall carry out any work in relation to a gas fitting .... unless he is competent to do so. 
To understand that this sentence means you can't replace parts or repair your boiler we need a few definitions from the same regulations:
2.—(1) In these Regulations, ...—
  • “gas appliance” means an appliance designed for use by a consumer of gas for heating
  • “gas fittings” means gas pipework, valves...., and fittings, apparatus and appliances designed for use by consumers of gas for heating..... 
  • “work” in relation to a gas fitting includes any of the following activities carried out by any person, ....
  •   (a) installing or re-connecting the fitting 
  •   (b) maintaining, servicing, permanently adjusting, disconnecting, repairing, altering or renewing the fitting or purging it of air or gas;...... 
Leaves just one question:

DIY Gas Repairs - What Does Competency for Working on Gas Mean?

Competency is not just about being good at DIY, or following instructions, it has a specific definition. This quote is from the latest version of the Approved Code of Practice to the Gas Safety Regs (May 2013, draft):

  57         Anyone who works on a gas fitting.... Therefore, do-it-yourself gas engineers and those performing favours for friends and relatives all need to have the required competence.
  58        Competence is a combination of practical skill, training, knowledge, experience to carry out the job in hand safely, and ensuring the installation is left in a safe condition for use. Knowledge must be kept up-to-date with changes in the law, technology and safe working practice.
  60         Gas work should not be undertaken except:
  • a) by a person who has successfully completed an industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence. Training that leads to assessment of competence in safe gas work must be recognised by the industry’s Standards Setting Authority. or
  • b) in the case of a previously Registered person, they have proved competence through a Certification Scheme. or
  • c) for those working at premises that fall outside the scope of the Regulations (see regulation 2(4) and associated guidance), by a person who has successfully completed an industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence.
  61        Training should be of a standard to enable a gas engineer to achieve competence in the safe installation, purging, commissioning, testing, servicing, maintenance, repair, disconnection, modification and dismantling, of the gas systems, fittings and appliances with which they are working. This should include an adequate knowledge of associated services, such as water and electricity, of the dangers they may give rise to and the precautions to take.

More About the Law & DIY Repairing My Boiler

The draft Approved Code of Practice explais the Gas Regs and you can down load it from the HSE website - under current consultations:

Many working in the industry (especially qualified gas engineers) are concerned about how the regulations are implemented.  For example, the way gas fitting are sold without any restriction or prominent warnings implies that fitting and repairing gas appliances may be a simply D I Y task.

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