There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the growing number of people who are bypassing their gas meters, often managing to gain access to €˜free" gas. Of course, quite apart from being illegal such behaviour is astronomically dangerous, to both the resident and their neighbours. It also of course contributes to the rest of us having to pay higher bills.
It"s staggering though just how common this sort of behaviour is. There are many gangs of people across the country who for anything from £50 to £500 will bypass your meter for you, and plenty of websites and online information recommending ways in which it can be done.
A quick search on Google for €˜bypass gas meter" brings up 686,000 results, including an online forum in which people discuss the unlikelihood of anyone bypassing their meter actually going to court (http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=3866039), a YouTube video demonstrating how using a vacuum cleaner can run a gas meter in reverse (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIuKuuHbZbI) and a company advertising their own prototype gas bypass kit (http://www.gas-engineer-kit.com/?p=48).
Of course, all of these resulting websites are helping to encourage ludicrously dangerous tactics, most of which won"t work anyway. Running a meter backwards for example will ruin the cogs, using a vacuum cleaner or other device to blow air through backwards will burst the diaphragm, and any rogue trader who comes to your property to carry out a few minutes" work for hundreds of pounds won"t be too concerned about the long term safety as they"ll be far away should the worst happen.
What"s Worse Than A Rogue Gas Fitter?
If you employ the services of a rogue trader then you can be pretty sure the work will be of a dubious standard and your life very much at risk. All of which might well be worth it to save a few pounds on your gas bill of course.
But if you employ the services of a registered, approved and presumable safe gas installer you"re much less likely to be cautious or wary as far as the quality of the job is concerned. Rogue traders are likely to cause us to be on the lookout for trouble" approved gas fitters leave us with peace of mind, and a lower likelihood of us looking out for problems.
This was the problem with Paul Cresswell, operating in the Stourbridge area. After carrying out apparently legal and approved work on a number of flats in the area one resident decided to call the Gas Safe Register to complain. Since all of the residents assumed that Mr Cresswell was registered and approved by Gas Safe this seemed the logical approach to take. However, Gas Safe confirmed that he was not registered or approved by them, rendering his work illegal.
An HSE investigation revealed the true state of the work he had completed, including a boiler flue which hadn"t been fitted properly, creating a very realistic and probable chance for the home to be flooded with deadly carbon monoxide. In another property he had managed to install pipes in such a way that they could very easily become live.
Mr Cresswell clearly displayed the Gas Safe logo on his van and credentials, and in fact back in 2011 he had been registered, but this lapsed and was not renewed. He was subsequently found guilty of breaching Regulations 3(3), 3(7), 26(1) and 27(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and ordered to carry out 80 hours" unpaid work and to pay costs of £1,270.
How To Stay Safe With Gas Installations
If you"re a homeowner, tenant, landlord or business premises owner then it will be important to make sure that any gas installations, repairs or work is only ever carried out by an approved Gas Safe engineer. How can you check that they are registered, and not either a rogue trader or, like Mr Cresswell, a lapsed member of Gas Safe?
The first thing you can do is to call Gas Safe yourself directly on 0800 408 5500 and they will be able to confirm whether the engineer carrying out the work is approved and registered.
If you have any concerns about the safety of a gas installation or gas works, or construction work which may affect gas pipes or installations then you can call Veritas Consulting free on 0800 1488 677, and one of our highly experienced health and safety consultants will be happy to help you.