UK tenant adivce-filter: Stuck with a "dangerous" boiler that perhaps isn't, between estate agents, mistrusting landlord and two different gas/heating companies. How do we keep ourselves safe (and warm)?
posted by menialjoy to home & garden (9 answers total)
I need to know how to figure out if our boiler is actually safe or not, but we're not in the position of knowing who we can actually believe, and this includes Gas Safe-certified heating companies. Details may or may not be neccessary, but I've included them for completions sake. If not, the last two paragraphs have the more specific questions.
The short version:
We have two inspections (one from last year) saying there is flue corrosion and high CO, the later of these saying that CO is so high the boiler needs to be replaced. Landlord sought 2nd opinion from someone, they say everything is fine and the flue is fine and it's fine. We don't know who to believe, we now don't trust either side and we need to know how to find out of the boiler is actually safe.
2011's gas inspectors left their print-out taped to the boiler, with (handwritten) notes about flue corrosion and high CO, but not high enough to warrant any serious action. Lets call them Gas 1.
This week, when we had our 2012 inspection. The inspectors (A new company, Gas 2) also mentioned corrosion in the flue, and suggested we get a CO monitor. Then they tested the exhaust, at which point they switched advice to "turn this off, it is dangerous. We will tell the agents to get a new one."
They said our CO ratio was crazy high, told it is not normal for the exhaust to smell like gas *all the time* (which it has done constantly since we moved in). We were awarded a colourful triangle stating the boiler was dangerous, and we were not to use it. They took 2011's slip along with theirs back to the estate agent.
The next day (Thursday) estate agents had a gentleman from Gas 3 come out to do a quote for a new boiler. 40 minutes later, he comes back. He tells me he had been told to go ahead and replace the boiler, but the way the estate agents wanted him to do the install made him suspicious. They apparently wanted it done as quickly as possible, and seemed to indicate that they wanted to pay him cash under the table.
As it happens, his boss knows the landlord, who owns several properties arount town. They got in touch directly with him. He has been suspicious of the estate agents. He wanted this guy to take a good look at the boiler, and test it himself.
He asked if he could look at the boiler again, but if I could not tell the estate agents that he had been. I regret this now, but I consented. He said the boiler was only 8 years old (Gas 2 seemed to think it was older), and he couldn't see any corrosion (he just took the outer case off). I showed him the slip from the inspectors, and explained that the previous year's inspection had similar but less severe results.
Gas 3 man, installed a CO monitor above the thing and asked if he could come back and do actual tests on the thing while it was on, because he didn't have time to do them that day.
We of course had no obligations, but honestly I just thought he'd conclude what two different sets of gas inspectors already done, and if that put the landlord's mind at ease then he wouldn't drag his feet about replacing it (which had been a concern of ours).
So, the repairman came back this morning (Sunday), did a full service on the boiler and tested the levels himself. He showed me the print-out and said while the CO was a wee bit high, it was only half-way to what would be considered dangerous levels (.0041, dangerous is over .008.). He's certified to do gas inspections, so he can effectively "undo" the dangerous conclusion. He's going to come back later today to do a reading after the boiler has been on a few hours, and said not to worry about running it, because based on what he's seen he would be happy to do a passing certificate on it right now.
He has "no idea" how Gas 1 and 2 got such a high reading, but suggested that there are ways to fiddle the test, and that some companies like to "make work". He also said the flue looked "fine".
I regret letting him in now, and I should have just said "look, Landlord needs to take it up with the estate agents if he doesn't trust them." We don't trust either party, to be honest. The estate agents have been disorganized, slow on certain repairs, and have cut corners on service. The landlord comes across as stingy, but then we've never actually dealt with him directly.
Now we have two potentially contradictory gas certificates. Plus two different companies over the last two years have reported high CO levels during a month where the boiler is in constant use. This latest guy tested it before and after doing a full service on it, and even before the service he said it was at like .0053 or something. But it hadn't been turned on for 4 days.
Anyway, these are details.
What are we, the tenants, supposed to make of all of this? We don't care about the landlords problems with his estate agents, we care that we are not running a dangerous machine in our wee little house with cramped, badly ventilated rooms and/or having no proper heating while the two sides duke it out.
Should we listen to The Last Honest Boilerman and just get on with things, letting the CO monitor warn us? Are heating companies as famously dodgy as estate agents? Can we/should we solicit a 3rd inspection by someone new? Should we be calling British Gas and reporting this nonsense? Is there anything we should be worried about with regards to angering the estate agents/landlord?