Question for the Gas Guy's Re Condemned Gas Fire

Discussion in 'Plumbing and Central Heating' started by stem, 12 Mar 2016.

  1. stem

    stem

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    My elderly mum has an inset gas fire in her bungalow. She has lived there since it was built in 1980 and for at least the last 15 years has a BG HomeCare package in place that includes a service of it, along with her boiler.

    All has been well until this week when the engineer said that the gas fire didn't have enough draw for the spill test, so condemned and disconnected it. He said that the flue (metal built into the wall when the house was built) was too short because it's a bungalow and wasn't creating enough draft. he suggested that we replace it with an electric fire. Which won't be easy as there is no adjacent electricity and with a solid floor, all cables have to be chased down from the ceiling. Irinically the room was decorated last wee too. Also the present inset fire in a wooden surround is not that old and cost her quite a bit of money to have installed.

    During the 35 years she has lived there, the fires (she has had three) have all been serviced and always passed. Nothing has happened to the flue since last time, the cowl on the top is in place and it is, as it's always been, so my question is.

    Should I / can I get a second opinion? 34 previous engineers have passed it as OK, and 1 has failed it. Is it likely the one that has failed it is right and the other 34 are wrong? Obviously it does need to be safe, so if it really is life threatening than I needs to go.

    Mum was under the impression that for the £600 a year she pays BG she could relax, that they would fix everything as part of the cover and she would not have to worry about finding herself in this situation. They said the chimney could be extended and then it maybe OK but would cost her another £300+
     
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  3. ollski

    ollski

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    Height of chimney is just advice but if the fire is spilling fumes it is immediately dangerous. I suspect the chimney may be offered as a possible contributory cause rather than the reason. My next step would be a chimney sweep to brush a few cobwebs out.
     
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  4. Jackrae

    Jackrae

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    Wow, think of al those bungalows with gas fires installed
    Did he warm the flue before doing the spill test
     
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  5. LargeWrench

    LargeWrench

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    What exactly is she getting for £600 a year?!
     
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  6. gas112

    gas112

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    a fire can work perfectly ok 99% of the time but weather conditions can affect it and cause it to fail the test , because it passed 35 other times doesnt mean it will pass the 36th and the guy can only react to what he finds at time of tests
     
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  7. Steelmasons

    Steelmasons

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    Get a "37th test" carried out..:)
     
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  8. FiremanT

    FiremanT

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    As said, get the flue swept, cobwebs can stop a flue pulling.

    If you decide on the electric fire option, could you get a sparks to run a cable through loft and drop down flue.? I can't think of a problem with that (maybe flue would need earthing), but a sparks will know.
     
  9. stem

    stem

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    Thanks everyone, some good advice there.

    Who would do that? would it have to be someone Gas Safe? or just a regular chimney sweep? It is only a small metal flue, not a brick one.

    Yes my wife was there. She said that when it failed he left it lit for a awhile and tried again. She said it drew the smoke OK at the opening, but not outside the fire.

    It seems to be cover for the drains, electrical system and a service for the boiler and fire every year, she pays it on direct debit £51 a month. This is because she had a problem with her boiler when I was on holiday in Turkey and couldn't get anyone to attend. In the past she has called them out a couple of times when her heating broke down and they came out immediately and fixed it, once was on a Sunday. Seems a lot of money to me though.

    Hmm. That's a good idea about the cable. I must admit that I have always felt that a naked flame and an unsteady older person are not a good combination, the electric fire would probably be a safer alternative.
     
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  11. FiremanT

    FiremanT

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    To sweep the flue a RGI should disconnect the fire, and a sweep should then sweep it. There are RGI's who also do sweeping, so that would be favourite. Also the cobwebs may just be in the terminal, As it is a bungalow, most RGIs would be able to climb the roof to check and clear - and retest. Remember,if it has been successfully tested many times,cobwebs are the likely culprit, but as G112 pointed out, wind directikon and atmospherics can cause a "marginal" flue to fail.

    Yes my wife was there. She said that when it failed he left it lit for a awhile and tried again. She said it drew the smoke OK at the opening, but not outside the fire.

    This could be an issue! Every fire has a specific testing regime. Normally the test is to insert the match at SPECIFIC place at a SPECIFIC depth.
    On a "proper" flue, pulling well, smoke will be pulled into the flue from a couple of inches away. A precast or system flue may, but often won't. It matters not - the test is with a match held UNDER the canopy - not from outside.

    I'm always careful not to criticise another RGI, as obviously I was not there, bu it may be worth having another RGI out to recheck, and tell him how BG tested.

    I have always been careful about advising my clients to cancel an annual policy for boilers, as sods law dictates an expensive repair will immediately ensue, and for old people the benefit is the (perceived) ability to have immediate attention. I do, however advise everyone NOT to use BG etc for a gas fire service. And this case is a good example. BG guys DO NOT offer the full service, and defo do not climb ladders. Find a local guy and stick to him.
     
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  12. ollski

    ollski

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    Are you kidding?, in my bg days I spent an hour and a half minimum removing, cleaning the fire, stripping burner, injectors, checking flue through the entire length, flue flow and spillage with all the tumble driers etc etc etc. I have never ever seen an rgi up a ladder inspecting a cowl.
     
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  13. oph

    oph

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    Was that pre FGA days though?(y):whistle:
     
  14. BigSnoopy01

    BigSnoopy01

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    probably just a bad day to test spillage, wait till the wind picks up and get it retested.
     
  15. Call Bg explain situation and ask for it to be retested.
    If it failed the test he's done the right thing.
     
  16. simond

    simond

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    Seconded.

    I cut off a boiler that 12 previous service engineers had passed over the last 12 years, including one from the manufacturer's UK distributor.

    The air was a bit frosty in the kitchen- not only due to the weather - and I was inundated with 'it was alright before etc' but as it turned out, I was right and the 12 were wrong.

    So just because this chap was the first doesn't mean he is wrong, and open flued gas fires don't take prisoners.

    You also mentioned that this particular fire was a relatively new replacement, which makes it more likely your BG man is on the money. Sometimes in our job you can be under a lot of pressure to do the wrong thing.
     
  17. Mikefromlondon

    Mikefromlondon

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    If I were you (OP) I would be questioning the RGI who tested the fire, the cause of failure and and not question the failure, and what steps he or his company BG will be taking to remedy the cause, since your mother is paying them an arm and a leg each year, so get on to BG, and ask them for an explanation for failure and why all of a sudden the flue appears to be a problem when it hasn't been a problem for the last 35 years, and if it is blocked or ridden with cob webs then who is responsible for cleaning it? a chimney sweeper is not allowed to disconnect gas appliance so how will he be getting access to clean it and if he tries to clean it from the roof, where would all the debri or other things stuck to it fall? will that not cause more problems to your fire if any of that gets into the fire, in other words it should be the responsibility of BG engineer to remove the fire and visually inspect the flue and if necessary clean or sweep it up. I would get on to BG and threaten to cancel the contract if they refuse to do anything about it, and tell them that you are not going the electric route since your mother had spent a fortune on this gas fire and its surround and so on.

    Sometimes elderly people are taken for a mug.
     
    Last edited: 13 Mar 2016
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