From April 1 2014 it will be mandatory for heating engineers to record levels of flue gas CO and the combustion ratio when commissioning condensing boilers. This will help to further improve the safety of domestic boilers, which is why Potterton is giving the new measure its full support. Lee Robinson, UK customer service director, comments:
"Statistics from the Department of Health suggest that exposure to carbon monoxide is responsible for around 50 deaths, 200 hospital admittances and 4,000 low level poisoning cases in the UK every year. Carbon monoxide is a highly poisonous substance, and, as well as proving fatal in some cases, exposure can cause lasting damage to health, even in small doses.
"As carbon monoxide can be produced by the incomplete burning of gas, it is essential that gas appliances such as boilers operate correctly and safely. We welcome any legislation that helps to identify any potential safety issues, and that enables heating engineers to prove their installations are safe.
"As part of the Benchmark Commissioning Checklist, from April 1 2014 installers will be required to record the levels of carbon monoxide in the flue gas and the combustion ratio when commissioning a condensing boiler, using an electronic combustion gas analyser. If the measurements are outside the expected range, simple actions can be taken to rectify this. However, the gas valves must not be adjusted without contacting the boiler manufacturer first.
"The Benchmark Commissioning Checklist is an important document that heating engineers leave with the customer, and failure to complete it will invalidate an appliance's warranty. Managed and promoted by the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, Benchmark is a nationally recognised scheme that places responsibility on manufacturers and installers to ensure best practice in installation, commissioning and servicing of domestic heating and hot water products in line with the Building Regulations in England and Wales.
"From April 2014 if the checklist is left without the CO and combustion ratio levels being recorded, Gas Safe Register will defect an installation for non-compliance.
"To complete the flue gas test to the required standard, installers will need a BS 7967 specified electronic combustion gas analyser with a valid calibration certificate (annual checks are needed to guarantee accurate readings).
"For installers who are unfamiliar with monitoring flue gas levels with this kind of equipment, training is available. Potterton offers a one-day course on Combustion Performance Analysis for Gas Safe Registered installers, which covers the science of combustion, the new regulations and how to use a flue gas analyser on domestic heating equipment.
"It's important to understand that the Benchmark Commissioning Checklist is not 'red tape' to tell installers how to do their jobs - it provides reassurance for installers and their customers by demonstrating that a new boiler is running safely and efficiently, offering peace of mind for everyone.
"It is also best practice for an installer to recommend the use of a CO detector with an audible alarm, in addition to an annual service.”
For further information, installers should refer to the Gas Safe Register's Technical Bulletin TB 143, or boiler manufacturers' commissioning instructions.