It’s a year since the Gas Safe Register’s guidance in regards to flues in voids changed, with gas engineers now required to check flue safety as part of work on any flued appliance – such as a gas boiler. If this cannot be achieved due to the flue being concealed, more common in flats built after 2000, then the appliance that relies on this flue/concealed chimney should be switched off and classified as ‘At Risk’ or ‘Immediately Dangerous’, in accordance with the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure.
To help installers understand the issues surrounding flues in voids, the Gas Safe Register has issued guidance on the subject – TB 008 Edition 3 Existing concealed room-sealed fanned-draught boiler chimney/flue systems in domestic premises.
Accompanying the guide is an interactive learning tool, available through the Gas Safe Register’s On Demand Learning area.
In addition, as part of a cross-industry initiative, Gas Safe Register has developed a database facility where details on properties/developments with concealed room-sealed chimney/flues can be logged. This will assist in evaluating the effectiveness of communications relating to flues in voids and help registered engineers demonstrate they have taken appropriate steps to inform those who may be at risk of chimney/flue failure.
Flues in voids overview
Ideally, concealed chimney/flue systems should be fitted with an inspection hatch to allow examination. For homeowners with a property between two and ten years old the installation of an inspection hatch may be the covered by the home warranty. For properties older than this, a Gas Safe Registered Engineer should be the first port of call. For tenants, this responsibility lies with the landlord, who must ensure that the boiler is checked every year and the flue can be examined.
Gas engineers that are not able to carry out an examination of the chimney/flue system, should conduct a risk assessment to determine the appropriate classification (‘At Risk’ or ‘Immediately Dangerous’). The following elements should be considered:
- Where combustion performance analysis is not possible but it is possible to inspect the flame picture, is the flame picture visually satisfactory?
- Where installed, do CO alarms conform to BS EN 50291 and are they installed/located in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or industry guidance?
- Do CO alarms ‘alarm’ when the test button is pressed?
- Are all CO alarms within the manufacturer’s recommended lifespan or, where this information is not available, are they less than 5 years old?