You’ve just received the news that everyone dreads getting from their heating engineer – your boiler’s dangerous and has been condemned. Bummer.
So, what next?
Whilst having your boiler condemned sounds a bit scary; it’s good that safety issues have been identified before any harm has been done. You and your family are safe.
But regardless of the positives, it’s still not what you wanted to hear!
To help you get sorted, we’ve put together this guide to everything you need to know about your condemned boiler; what to do next; and how you can hopefully prevent this from happening again in the future.
What is a condemned boiler?
Let’s start by looking at what a condemned boiler actually is…
Unfortunately, being condemned can be the death knell for your boiler. It means that it’s been officially declared unsafe for use.
We all know that gas can be dangerous. And if your boiler isn’t burning gas as it should, it’s dangerous and shouldn’t be used – hence it being condemned.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the end of the road for your boiler. It depends which category it falls into (more on this later) and whether it can be made safe again.
Think of it as being a bit like an MOT for your car. Your mechanic might fail your car initially because it doesn’t meet current safety standards.
Your mechanic calls you, explains what needs addressing, and how much it will cost. If economical repairs are possible, you might choose to go ahead. Your mechanic then does the repairs, and your car passes its MOT.
This might be the case for your boiler. It might be component part can be replaced to make your boiler safe again.
Why are boilers condemned?
Your Gas Safe engineer will be following the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP) when assessing your boiler.
This procedure helps to protect you from unsafe gas appliances. It complies with the law under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
When looking at your boiler, your engineer will do his or her best to ensure that you’re safe.
There are many reasons why your boiler might be unsafe. There are many components which might have deteriorated or been improperly fitted or maintained.
The reason could be as simple as there being inadequate ventilation. But it could be as dangerous as your boiler leaking carbon monoxide gas.
What are the risks of having an unsafe boiler at home?
You might be wondering what the risks are with having an unsafe boiler in your home. And why condemning it was necessary…
There are three main risks of unsafe gas appliances:
1. Gas leaks
A gas leak can cause fires or explosions. If you think you can smell gas, then you’ll need to call your emergency service provider immediately. During a gas safety check, a Gas Safe engineer will do a visual inspection of pipework; and a tightness test to confirm there aren’t any gas leaks.
2. Fires and explosions
Safe appliances burn gas in a controlled way. But faulty boilers or pipework can leak gas which can ignite, causing fires and explosions.
3. Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas. It can be especially deadly because you can’t see, taste or smell it.
According to the NHS, there are approximately 60 carbon monoxide related deaths in the UK every year.
These are all pretty scary, we know! But you can avoid the risks by servicing your boiler each year.
The two categories of condemned boiler
What happens when your boiler is condemned, depends on what category it falls into.
Under GIUSP, there are two categories used to classify your unsafe boiler; depending on how serious the problems are:
Condemned boiler: Immediately Dangerous (ID)
As you might expect, ‘immediately dangerous’ is the most serious one!
An ‘immediately dangerous’ boiler is one which if operated; or left connected to the gas supply; is an immediate danger to life or property.
In this situation, your engineer will disconnect your boiler. And you must not use it until the fault has been fixed.
If for some (crazy) reason you refuse to let the engineer disconnect the boiler; they must report the matter to the Gas Emergency Service Provider (ESP).
The ESP has the legal power to forcibly enter your property and make the situation safe; or disconnect the gas supply.
Condemned boiler: At Risk (AR)
An ‘At Risk’ boiler has at least one fault; which could endanger life or the property.
Again, an engineer will disconnect the boiler. And it must not be used again until the faults are fixed.
However, in a limited number of cases turning off the gas supply will not remove or reduce the risk.
In such circumstances you will be issued with a warning notice and advised whom to contact for further information.
What is an ESP Visit?
Where a gas leak is suspected, the Gas Emergency Service Provider (ESP) may visit your home. The ESP will put a ‘Danger do not use’ label on your boiler if they suspect it’s unsafe.
In which case, you need to find a Gas Safe registered engineer to check it over. You should not use the boiler until a Gas Safe registered engineer has declared it safe to use.
Condemned boiler – What happens?
If your engineer cannot find the cause of the problem and fix it; they will need to make the situation safe either by turning the boiler off; or disconnecting the gas supply.
Your engineer will apply a ‘Danger Do Not Use’ warning label to your boiler; in line with the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP).
The warning sticker means that your engineer has conducted a safety check and your boiler doesn’t meet current safety standards.
The sticker will categorise the boiler as Immediately Dangerous (ID) or At Risk (AR). It provides information about what needs to be done.
Condemned boiler – What to do next
We understand that it can be stressful to have your boiler condemned, so here’s what you need to do next:
Try not to panic!
Whilst it can be worrying to hear that your boiler is unsafe; you should be pleased that the fault has been found early.
Your engineer will have taken all the necessary steps to make the boiler safe. So there’s no need to worry that you are in danger now.
Get good advice
Hopefully you have an expert engineer whom you can trust to give you sound advice. If not, find one!
You need to follow your engineer’s advice on whether it’s economical to repair your boiler; or whether a replacement is the best option.
Find the right boiler
Although you may be without heating and hot water, it’s important that you don’t make a rushed decision.
A boiler is a big investment that you’ll want to keep you and your family warm for the next 10-15 years so you’ll want to get it right.
Again, finding an expert engineer whom you can trust is the answer here!
The Heating People are boiler installation specialists. We have over twenty years experience in helping families with their heating. Rest assured that we will calculate, recommend and install the right boiler for you and your family in your time of need!
Can you sell a house with a condemned boiler?
You can sell a house with a condemned boiler, if you make the buyer aware of the situation. But, it’s advisable to replace a condemned boiler before selling. Would you want to pay to inherit this problem?!
Investing in a new efficient boiler could increase the value of your property, as well as making your property more attractive to potential buyers.
How to avoid a condemned boiler in the future
Now that you’ve been through this inconvenience once, you’ll want to avoid it happening again in the future.
There are several things that you can do to avoid facing this headache again:
Keep up to date with your boiler service
Prevention is better than cure, and an annual boiler service is vital in optimising the lifespan of your boiler and preventing problems from occurring.
Research by Which? Found that around two thirds of boilers that are serviced every year never need a repair. This number drops dramatically as you increase the time between services, so spending a bit on a boiler service could potentially save you a much bigger repair bill.
During your boiler service, your engineer will spot any possible issues before they cause a big problem.
Also remember that you need to have your boiler serviced annually to maintain its guarantee.
Invest in a new boiler
If you’ve been putting off replacing an old and temperamental boiler, it might be time to consider a replacement before it becomes dangerous.
To find out the warning signs, check out our related blog: Does my boiler need replacing?
You can save money on your heating bills by replacing an old G-rated boiler with a modern, A-rated condensing one. The Energy Saving Trust estimate that such a switch can save you around £350 on your bills each year.
Get a professional to fit (and service) your boiler
Only Gas Safe registered engineers are legally qualified to install, repair and service your gas boiler.
But despite this, there are still an alarming number of Charlatans out there who are installing and working on gas boilers illegally, without the required qualifications.
It goes without saying really, but a boiler is far more likely to end up condemned if it’s been installed incorrectly by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. So make sure you check!
Rest assured that all engineers with The Heating People are Gas Safe registered and are experts in commissioning your boiler to fully optimise its energy efficiency.
So, the takeaway from this, is that you don’t need to panic if your boiler is condemned.
Take the time to find an expert engineer who will give you advice that you can trust; and will find you the boiler that is right for you and your family.
And once you’ve found your trusted engineer, keep them! Your engineer is key to keeping the unsung hero of your home ticking over for the next decade or more.