Heating systems and gas safety

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Heating systems and gas safety

The safety issues relating to gas are well known and include fire, explosion, carbon monoxide poisoning. It is therefore important that gas boilers, heaters and cookers are well maintained and safe to use regardless of whether they run of natural (mains) gas or Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG). 

Health and Safety legislation (The Health and safety at Work Act 1974), places an obligation on all employers to ensure the safety of all persons, not just employees, using the premises.  Even if you do not consider your church to be an employer there are many legal grey areas and it is good practice to treat volunteer workers with the same protection as a paid worker. 

Gas Safety Regulations state that installations should be “maintained in a safe condition so as to prevent risk of injury to any person”. It is very difficult for an unqualified person to carry out adequate checks so the work should be undertaken by a Gas Safe engineer who is registered for that type of installation and for the work being undertaken. 

The testing and servicing intervals are not specified in legislation requirements exist for landlords (residential and commercial) including the need to have installations checked annually. It is therefore reasonable to expect churches to adopt the same requirements. 

Regardless of the servicing level carbon monoxide alarms are recommended by many insurers for rooms where there are combustion appliances. 

Oil installations do not have as many safety issues as gas systems and are not subject to the same regulations however it is still important to ensure they are serviced and maintained regularly not least because their efficiency can reduce more significantly that gas systems if not serviced.

Other heating system issues that are import, especially as winter approaches, is that pipes in unheated spaces such as roof or floor voids are lagged to prevent freezing and then bursting in very cold weather. 

Some churches supplement the main heating system with portable LPG heaters. There are many issues associated with these and they are not recommended.