In December 2010 the Health and Safety Executive released a Safety Notice to raise awareness of the potential dangers from certain types of flues connected to gas-fired central heating installations in some properties.
Unfortunately the Notice was released following the death of a person in a property earlier that year but there is now an obligation on Landlords to take action before the 31 December 2012.
Where boilers are located away from external walls, flues are more likely to run through ceiling (or wall) voids. In such cases when the gas appliance is serviced or maintained it can be difficult, if not impossible, to determine whether the flue has been installed correctly or whether it is still in good condition.
Unless the gas engineer can make these checks they cannot ensure that the flue from the boiler is safe in order to comply with their legal duties. The engineer will therefore only be able to comply with his legal obligation if appropriate inspection hatches have been installed. Landlords are advised that after the 31 December 2012 if the hatches have not been installed the gas engineer will not carry out the inspection.
If the flue is not inspected and a fault overlooked, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) could be released into the living accommodation. CO is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, poisonous gas produced by incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels. It stops the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs and can kill quickly, without warning.
We have blogged on the dangers of CO poisoning here and whilst landlords will note they have approximately 2 years to install the hatches, action should be taken sooner rather than later.