DIY gas work is illegal in the UK (with a very few exceptions) and anyone working on a gas pipe or a gas appliance (such as a boiler or fire) MUST be on the Gas Safe Register (with a few exceptions – I’ll get on to those).
A quick web search will uncover many pages saying DIY gas work is legal – these pages are misleading and wrong. Or they are writing about the law in a different country.
The Gas Safety Installation & Use Regulations 1998, (Gas Regs 1998) is the relevant law for the UK, you read the full document if you want, I have.
Gas Regs 1998 apply to everyone – including people at work, landlords, people in their own homes.
Note: I have seen it written in forums that the Gas Regs are part of Health and Safety so only apply to employees at work – this is not true. The Gas Regs are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and most of the HSE work is concerned with workplaces and most of the Health & Safety legislation is about work places – BUT NOT TOTALLY.
The HSE produce a guide book to the Gas Regs 1998, its catchy title is The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP). Don’t be put off by the title the latest draft version (L56, edition 4, May 2013) is very readable and even in the introduction it clearly explains who it applies to.
The law says anyone doing gas work and being paid for it (self employed or as an employee) must be approved – i.e. on the Gas Safe Register (GSR).
You do not have to be GSR to do gas work if you are not being paid e.g. in your own home (on a DIY basis though) you just need to be competent.
There are just over 100,000 people on the GSR. Of the 50,000,000 or so adults in the UK only perhaps 0.1% or less who are not on the GSR and are competent to do DIY. I think it is fair to say DIY gas work is illegal because for 99% of the population it is.
Competent in this context is not the same compos mentis *of sound mind” and it is not the same as being a good jack of all trades. I know some people who are great at DIY but they do not qualify as competent to do gas work.
To be competent to do gas work if you are not actually gas safe registered you must have completed and passed the same training course as those who are GSR. So the very few exceptional people who actually could legally do DIY gas are those who could apply tomorrow to be GSR if they want to: they would be people who were registered but didn’t renew their registration in April because they retired or changed career; they will be employees of a GSR company who do not have GSR in their own right.
You may ask where I got this definition from. Conveniently is is in the new draft ACOP, click on the link to the HSE consultation and you can download it. The same definition has been around for a long time but written in difficult language and buried in other HSE documents.
Who is Competent To Do DIY gas work?
To make it easier for you to check I am right I have copied and pasted the section here from the ACOP:
- 57 Anyone who works on a gas fitting…. Therefore, do-it-yourself gas engineers and those performing favours for friends and relatives all need to have the required competence.
- 58 Competence is a combination of practical skill, training, knowledge, experience to carry out the job in hand safely, and ensuring the installation is left in a safe condition for use. Knowledge must be kept up-to-date with changes in the law, technology and safe working practice.
- 60 Gas work should not be undertaken except:
- a) by a person who has successfully completed an industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence. Training that leads to assessment of competence in safe gas work must be recognised by the industry’s Standards Setting Authority. or
- b) in the case of a previously Registered person, they have proved competence through a Certification Scheme. or
- c) for those working at premises that fall outside the scope of the Regulations (see regulation 2(4) and associated guidance), by a person who has successfully completed an industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence.
- 61 Training should be of a standard to enable a gas engineer to achieve competence in the safe installation, purging, commissioning, testing, servicing, maintenance, repair, disconnection, modification and dismantling, of the gas systems, fittings and appliances with which they are working. This should include an adequate knowledge of associated services, such as water and electricity, of the dangers they may give rise to and the precautions to take.
What is Gas Work?
You should be asking at this point. It is also defined in the Gas Regs: installing, disconnecting, servicing, repairing of gas pipes and gas appliances are all activities described as gas work.
What Will Happen If a Home-owner Does Illegal DIY?
There is a sliding scale of possible outcomes from good to very bad.
At the good end the DIY work will be safe and sound, no-one will know, end of story.
At the very bad end house explodes and people die
Or also very bad – with less of a visual impact – people become ill from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, they might die, they might suffer irreversible long-term health problems.
In between the extremes you might have to pay someone to put the work right or make it legit. You might be prosecuted and you could face a prison sentence.
Why is Mrs Tara Plumbing correct and when miscellaneous websites say something else?
When you look at any thing on the inter-web you should think about who has written it and are their references. The pages that tell you it is easy to install your cooker, disconnect your gas fire, etc are written by anon and without references that you can check.
Mrs Tara Plumbing – I am not anon – You can contact me through my business.
I have an established back ground in the gas installation industry and as the author of factual articles and books. You can check up on what I have written – I have provided the references.