COVID-19 Gas Servicing Information for Consumers
With many of us restricted to self-isolation and with the cooler season almost upon us, it’s important for the ongoing safety and health of your family that you understand the importance of maintaining your gas appliances.
All gas appliances which include space heaters, wall furnaces, gas ducted heaters, gas hot water services, gas cooktops and ovens require regular routine servicing to ensure that the appliance is operating safely and efficiently.
All gas appliances sold in Australia must have undergone certification testing for approval which will be displayed on the appliance compliance plate. No appliance should ever be installed that does not have such certification. It is also illegal for anyone other than a qualified gasfitter to install any gas appliance.
Compliance plate example ⤴️
How do I know if my Gasfitter is qualified?
Qualified Gasfitters must carry a photo identification card provided by the Victorian Building Authority. The qualified gasfitter will additionally have a unique identification number and expiry date listed on the card.
The rear of the card will indicate what plumbing work that individual can legally carry out, in the above sample the plumber is both licenced and registered to carry out gasfitting work and the specialised class of Type A gas servicing.
In addition to the card, a plumber and gasfitters details around what work they can carry out can be found on the VBA website https://www.vba.vic.gov.au/tools/find-practitioner
Always use a licensed/registered gasfitter for any installation, repairs or renovations involving gas work.
Types of Gas Appliances
All gas appliances require oxygen, in the form of air, for the purpose of combustion and the end product of heat. When air and fuel are provided to the appliance in the right balance, it operates safely and efficiently. When these are out of balance, (eg not enough air flow) the appliance may suffer from a condition known as incomplete combustion. If this happens, the appliance may be damaged or generate dangerous exhaust gases which include Carbon Monoxide (CO), which under certain conditions can enter the room with potentially deadly consequences.
Some appliances draw their air from inside the room in which they are installed, these are commonly called “open flued or natural draft” appliances. When installing these appliances, the gasfitter is required to calculate whether there is enough freely available air in the room for safe and efficient operation of the appliance. If this is inadequate, extra ventilation is required to be fitted, usually involving the installation of vents in the wall or ceiling. It is important where this additional ventilation is installed, it is not to be blocked off or removed as this may cause the appliance to operate inefficiently and possibly produce dangerous CO. There are sometimes warning signs that the appliance is not working correctly such as a build-up of soot on components of the appliance which in some cases may be visible to the homeowner but more often this can only be detected when the appliance is serviced.
Common open flued appliances include, wall furnaces, space heaters, certain types of indoor installed ducted heaters and water heaters. Cookers and cooktops draw their air for combustion from inside the room however due to the limited volume of gas used and short operational time these appliances don’t generally have the same risks as the other appliances.
It’s also important that the appliances you use inside the house are used for the purpose for which they are designed for. Outside patio heaters and portable BBQ’s are not meant to be used inside and there can be dire consequences from their improper operation.
There can be other influences such as exhaust fans or range hoods which may impact of the ability for these types of appliances to operate correctly. These fans are designed to draw air out of a room to outside and the “negative pressure” or suction that can be caused by this type of ventilation may result in certain types of gas appliances to “spill” CO and other products into the room instead of being removed from the room via the flue or chimney.
Another type of appliance is a “room sealed” appliance. These draw their combustion air external to the room in which they are installed and don’t rely on internal air at all for combustion. Many of the modern gas appliances manufactured are room sealed appliances as they have much higher operating efficiencies.
The importance of servicing your appliances
Many of the gas appliances we have in our homes such as heaters are only used for the cooler months and can sit unused for much of the year. When turned on, they may operate continuously for months at a time. It’s important that these types of appliances are routinely serviced, at a minimum every two years, to ensure their continued safe and efficient operation. A properly conducted service will include cleaning and inspection of the internal components of the appliance, checking and adjustment of the gas operating pressure, testing of safety components such as flame failure devices, overheating shut off, visual inspection of key components such as heat exchangers for any holes or cracks and checking and adjustment/replacement of appliance components related to specific types of appliances.
Just like your motor vehicle, regular servicing can ensure a longer life span for the appliance and for older appliances an opportunity to monitor potential problems and provide you with information for you to decide on its ongoing suitability. Regular servicing of the appliance will also include a check on the internal environment that the appliance is installed in to check if negative pressure is present and the potential for spillage of the exhaust gases.
Servicing of your appliance should only be carried out by those gasfitters who are endorsed to carry out this work. It is specialised work that requires the individual to have specific knowledge on a variety of gas appliances and fault detection and in some cases specific manufacturer information.
All Master Plumbers who carry out this specialised work have the appropriate VBA Registration and have access to professional development that enhances their skills and knowledge in this area. A Master Plumber member will supply you with a Service report as per the recommendations of AS4575 Type A gas Appliance Servicing standard, which will detail what was carried out at the time of the Service and by whom providing you with peace of mind.
GasBoys will provide our customers with a Gas Appliance Report at the end of any servicing activities.
What can you do?
We would suggest that well before the winter season hits you arrange to have your gas appliances, especially heaters, serviced by GasBoys or a Master Plumbers member who has the appropriate endorsement to do so. If we're not in your area, you can find a Master Plumber gasfitter on “find a plumber’ site https://plumber.com.au/find-a-plumber/.
At the time of the service, please ensure that your heating appliance is not operating so that the service can be carried out in the most time efficient manner, also if you can observe the current personal distancing requirements and limit the number of people who will be in the working area also don’t be offended if your gasfitter doesn’t shake hands or is wearing any personal protection equipment necessary for the work.
At this particularly difficult time, GasBoys and the Master Plumbers Association encourages all Victorians to adhere to the guidelines currently recommended by government authorities but importantly don’t forget that ensuring your gas appliances are operating safely and efficiently is also important to maintaining your family’s health and safety.