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How to check your home is gas safe before you move in

Wondering how to make sure your gas appliances are safe and in good working order? Here’s how to do it, whether you’re moving in or just want to check your current home.

Words by: Ellie Isaac

Senior Editor

There’s a lot going on when you’re moving home. With so many things to think about, checking that your gas appliances are safe and in good working order can fall to the bottom of the to-do list.

But a faulty appliance which has been left unserviced or hasn’t been checked year-on-year can be dangerous. It can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and also gas leaks which - in some extreme circumstances - can lead to fires and explosions. 

And the latest data reveals that unsafe gas appliances are usually found in homes with new owners. 

In fact, 17% of households with dodgy gas appliances moved into their home during the last year, according to the Gas Safe Register. And 47% moved in over the last 5 years.

And that’s because we tend to assume gas appliances are in good working order.

So don’t put it off. Make it part of your moving-in process, rather than waiting until something goes wrong down the line.

Here are the top gas safety basics to be aware of when moving into your new home, and how to keep on top of it once you’re in.

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How to check gas safety before you move in

1. Ask to see the paperwork

Ask the current owners for all the gas records they’ve got. 

They should have paperwork on installation, maintenance and safety checks for all their gas appliances and pipework.

You want to see that a registered engineer has serviced and safety checked all gas appliances (cookers, boilers and gas fires) within the last year.  Even better, they’ve had it checked every 12 months during their time there.

2. Get an expert in

If the last safety check was more than a year ago – or they don’t have the paperwork – it’s time to call in an expert.

Find an approved engineer on the Gas Safe Register, which is the official list of businesses that can carry out gas work.

Or you can call 0800 408 5500 to book a gas engineer from the Gas Safe Register.

3. Find out where the Emergency Control Valve is

An Emergency Control Valve is a safety mechanism which connects your gas meter to the gas mains supply.

Ask the owners where it is so you can switch the gas supply off in an emergency.

And if they don’t know, ask an engineer to show you when you get your gas appliances checked.

4. If it looks dodgy, don’t use it

Does something look off with a gas appliance? 

Stay on the safe side and don’t switch it on until you’ve had it checked by an expert.

Keep an eye out for lazy yellow flames, black marks or sooty stains around the appliance, as well as extra condensation and faulty pilot lights.

How to keep your home gas safe

1. Check and service your gas appliances every year

The general rule of thumb is to have your gas appliances checked once a year.

An engineer will look at your pipework and make sure it’s all secure. It takes about 30 minutes for them to check everything over, so you can have peace of mind for another year.

If you rent your home, it’s down to your landlord to organise a gas check every 12 months. 

If you haven’t heard anything about it, ask to see the landlord’s Gas Safety Record that shows when the last inspection was.

2. Use a Gas Safe registered engineer

Always make sure you use a credible engineer by heading over to the Gas Safe Register website.

Each engineer that’s qualified to do gas work will have a Gas Safe ID card. It sets out which types of gas work they’re allowed to do, as not all engineers can do all types of work.

You can also ask to see an engineer’s card when they turn up to make sure they’re fit for the job.

3. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm (and it’s working)

Check your carbon monoxide alarm to make sure it’ll pick up any trace of a gas leak.

Most alarms have a test button that you just need to press and hold. It can take up to 20 seconds for the alarm to sound.

Experts recommend testing your alarm once a month to be on the safe side.

4. Steer clear of DIY

We love a bit of DIY, but it’s a definite no-go when it comes to gas appliances.

Do not try to fit, fix or move gas appliances such as boilers, cookers or fires yourself, as you could cause a leak or something worse.

And if you’re drilling, hammering or putting screws into a wall or floor, check what’s behind it first. You don’t want to accidentally hit a gas supply.

5. Keep vents and flues clear

Make sure you don't block any vents or flues as they’re vital to ensure gas appliances burn properly. 

6. Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is invisible and it doesn’t have a smell, so it could be around you without you knowing.

The six signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapsing and losing consciousness.

If you or someone in your home has any of these signs, head to your GP or hospital straight away. Let them know you’ve been exposed to carbon monoxide.

Advice for carbon monoxide poisoning (NHS)

What to do in a gas emergency

If you think you have a gas leak, act quickly to keep you and your family safe.

Make sure you:

  • ventilate your house by opening all the doors and windows

  • turn off the gas emergency control valve

  • put out any naked flames

  • don’t use any electric switches – even to turn things off – as this can ignite the gas

  • call the National Gas Emergency service for your area

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.