When it comes to having a gas boiler inspected, you may be confused about whether you need to book in a gas safety check or a service. The two things are quite different, so read on to find out what each involves, as well as which one you might need. 

In this article, we explain what each of your heating system controls do and what temperature they should be set at in order to keep your home cosy this winter.

What is a gas safety check?

A gas safety check isn’t just specific to boilers, but relates to any gas appliances, including cookers and fires too. It doesn’t involve the inspection of specific parts. Instead, it ensures that everything is running as it should be. This could include checking:

  • The boiler pressure
  • The air supply
  • That gas is being burned correctly and efficiently
  • Flues and chimneys to ensure the flue gases can escape
  • Safety devices

Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless, meaning it can only be detected using carbon monoxide alarms. These devices should be placed near any gas appliances so that you can be made aware of a potential leak. The safety check can let you know that your boiler is safe to work whilst a service will ensure efficient running.

The check will also enable you to see that any cut-off devices, such as safety valves, are working. These devices ensure that, if there is a problem with your boiler, the gas supply to the boiler will be shut off to keep you and your household safe.

A gas safety check must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You can ask for their ID beforehand to ensure they have the right qualifications and accreditations. It’s particularly important that landlords keep up to date with gas safety checks in their properties, otherwise they could be neglecting their responsibilities under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. 

What does a boiler service involve?

Whereas a gas safety check will ensure that the appliance is running safely, a boiler service involves checking the individual boiler parts to make sure they’re clean and working efficiently. You should think of a boiler service and a safety check as the equivalent of a service and MOT on your vehicle. The MOT checks that it’s safe to drive on the road while the service checks individual parts and involves changing fluids such as oil if needed. A car’s MOT is equivalent to a boiler’s safety check, while the service is similar in principle to a boiler’s service.

Your boiler will need its first service 12 months after the date of installation and for every 12 months after this. Services aren’t a legal requirement, however they will keep your manufacturer warranty valid and will keep your boiler working efficiently, saving you money on your energy bills.

A service involves taking off the front cover of the boiler and inspecting and cleaning the parts inside. The heating engineer will make sure that there are no leaks in any of the pipework and that all of the seals are intact. As with a boiler safety check, the pressure will be monitored and the flue will be examined for safety.

As a boiler burns gas, dirt can be created and deposited on certain parts, such as the burner and heat exchanger. Over time, these deposits can affect the efficiency of your boiler and may even prevent it from turning on altogether. These parts will be looked at and cleaned if needed. Finally, the expansion vessel will be tested to ensure the correct pressure is in the system and the engineer will ignite the boiler to listen out for any unusual noises.

Once they’re finished, they should make a note of the service details in the manufacturer’s benchmark book. 

Which one do you need?

It’s important that your boiler has either an annual service or safety check. As a manufacturer we state that it is important to have an annual service to maintain your warranty.

To save time, a safety check can be completed on other appliances along with the service on your gas boiler by a Gas Safe registered engineer. He will then advise if other appliances also require a service.

The laws are slightly different for landlords who have to look after their tenants by ensuring all properties contain safe gas appliances. This means that, if you’re a landlord, you must legally have a gas safety check on all gas appliances every year. You don’t have to have the boiler serviced, however the landlord may still need a service to maintain manufacturer warranty. 

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