Is DIY gas work against the law? Or is it ok in my own home?

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.

http://consultations.hse.gov.uk/consult.ti/CD252/consultationHome

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.

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11 Responses to “Is DIY gas work against the law? Or is it ok in my own home?”


  1. 1 Matt B (thanet star) July 9, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    It’s always good to see Thanet Bloggers showing that they can do their homework. Also I totally enjoyed reading that despite having never really thought about DIY gas work before and still having zero interest in doing anything like that. The closest I get to thoughts of that nature is to wonder what a fully qualified engineer might make of the work some of the local authority’s folk make of some gas safety inspections.

  2. 2 Heating engineers July 17, 2013 at 7:57 am

    I am happy to read your blog. Indeed, the DIY gas work should be banned everywhere. Gas work is not easy and it needs proper experience and expertise in a specific field. A little mistake can create big problem for you and you’re surrounding also. It may be a reason of big disaster, therefore we always should be careful to become safe from this.

  3. 3 Gerry Sweeney November 24, 2013 at 2:34 am

    There is a very good reason why the law cannot be explicit and say that if you have been trained you can do gas work but if you have not been trained then you cannot. The word “competent” is used because there is no guarantee that someone that has attended industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence is actually “competent” at all – in fact I have seen work carried out buy Corgie/GasSafe registered engineers that should be condemned on more occasions that should have been. I am neither trained or certified and I have always done my own gas work (in my own property of course) because a) I am competent to do so and b) I know that I will do it right whereas I cannot be 100% someone else will…of course I accept that I am probably an average JOAT but none the less the point is still valid.

    • 4 mrstaraplumbing November 24, 2013 at 7:39 am

      I think the word “competent” is used for a number of reasons:
      1) exactly as you describe, someone may be qualified on paper but not competent.
      2) laws are often written in such a way so that the details can be changed without rewriting the actual law and putting it through parliament.

      For example it didn’t take a law to change the official body that working gas engineers must sign up to from Corgi to Gas Safe. The actual body is not defined in the law. But it is clear who that body is.

      Similarly definition of “competent” is left outside the legislation so that it can be changed or redefined as required.

      The ACOP is like the highway code, it doesn’t make the law it explains it and if you stick to it you should be OK. I think the ACOP is clear that if you haven’t had all that training then you are working outside the law.

      In practice, I would be willing to gamble that you would never be prosecuted unless something unsafe was found. Even then you might not be prosecuted unless there was a dangerous incident resulting in harm to people or property. Anyone who has read through the Gas related prosecutions on the HSE website would know this.

      So I am half in agreement with you and half not!

      I must tell you though why I know you are wrong on the point you make about KNOWING that you will do it right.
      Rules, standards, best practice relating to gas work and other related construction work changes frequently – new information comes to light, new equipment is used. Those in the industry working daily have a hard time keeping up with it and some of the detail is complicated which is why mistakes are made. Only yesterday I was discussing with gas engineers a job that involved the prosecution of gas engineers for manslaughter and yet they appeared to follow the rules at the time and it was actions by others later that made the situation dangerous and resulted in a death. Many engineers do not feel those guys should have been prosecuted, the installation was safe at the time.
      We get regular notices through our membership of Gas Safe Register – explaining these finer points….. I will stop going on but my point should be obvious.
      A DIYer who doesn’t get regular info intended for gas engineers is not going to know all the wider implications or up to date information. A DIYer is not going to be better qualified than a real qualified gas engineer.

      • 5 gerrysweeney November 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

        Of course thats absolutely right, I would not be exposed to the regular changes in the regulations but I would say this. The first part of being competent is having a thorough understanding of the chemistry involved with both the gas and its additives and the effects on the materials used for pipes and fittings like copper, brass and plastics, and understanding the corrosive effects of water mixed with other building material compounds like cement – all of which falls into the realms of common sense once you have a basic A level grounding in chemistry. Next is having a solid appreciation of the physics involved, everything from gas pressure to physical pipework and the physical construction of the building around the pipework, understanding where there is potential movements in the buildings construction is, or where potential risk of pipe crush or other physical damage and of course having enough experience to know how/what to do to prevent/avoid such things from happening. Another area is understanding and asking yourself the “what if” questions, what if the flu had a leak, or where would the gas settle if there was a leak here etc, then picking sensible locations to fit the boiler/appliance. In my experience its just as important to consider the other builders working on the site as well as the occupants and the potential damage they can cause after you have left – basically you don’t leave any of this to chance. Also as a DIYer, if you are going to do this sort of thing then you need the right tools and you need to know how to use them, for example I have a digital manometer, I very rarely use it, but I will check for leaks ones every couple of years or so in my own home with it.

        I can assure you I have come across gas fitters who do not appreciate some of the above (based on observing their actions or finished work) and will choose the “best site” for the boiler to get the job done as quickly as possible – for example siting a boiler in a bedroom when there is a safer place to install it – but with more work involved. I have never known any customer who given the choice would not be happy to pay more to end up with a safer home but often the incremental cash for the time involved is not as attractive as getting to the next job (my cynical me…)

        The other important element for a DIYer to ensure you are “competent” at the time you need to carry out any work is (as I do) to actually read up or even better ask and expert or practicing gas fitter advice on current regulations. Not practicing every day means I must gen up before I start any work – I have generally found experienced people to be happy to offer advice if you ask them sensible and not obviously stupid questions, or even pay someone for an hour of their time to walk through an installation before you undertake it – so long as you find the ones that do not think you are trying to encroach on their livelihood – Generally adhering to the important elements of current regulations is easy like this.

        I guess the point I am making is, while I appreciate that most registered gas fitters will most likely have a good knowledge of the regulations, that does not always translate into them doing the right job. I make sure I do the right job for myself by doing what I need to ensure that I am being “competent” with regards to regulations, all the rest of it I am comfortable with so its instinctive and common sense.

        The industry feels like a closed club where a key part is having to pay your dues which is what ultimately lead to the shutdown of Corgi and the introduction of what is now the improved GSR – I have spoken to so many gas fitters who are completely convinced that DIY gas work by someone who is not trained or certified is actually against the law – which of course is totally incorrect. As far as I understand it, its against the law to sell your services to undertake gas work that you charge for without being registered with the GSR and the primary reason for this is to ensure that there is some traceability and something insurance companies can interface with. By definition, the test of competency as you have already stated is not a certificate, its only actually tested in law should your incompetence lead to property destruction or harm to people or creating a clear situation for the potential of the same.

        Anyway, I have gone on enough. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that everyone should do their own DIY gas work, far from it, as a proportion there will be a greater proportion of competent registered gas fitters than there will be competent DIYers in the population and people should stay well away from it unless they are truly “competent”. but I do think it important that for those who are competent that they should be frightened into thinking they will end up in jail if they install their own boiler.

        Nice article by the way.

  4. 6 Martin January 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Mrs Tara Plumbing
    Your assertion that DIY gas work illegal in the UK is incorrect, I will try to explain.

    The requirement for competence and employees to be a “member of a class of persons approved for the time being by the Health and Safety Executive”( ie GasSafe) is made clear in the Gas Safety Installation & Use Regulations 1998.
    The ACOP (L56) goes on to describe how the law can be complied with however it also make clear that if a prosecution were to be brought and the ACOP had not been complied with it would be necessary to show that you have complied with the law in some other way, see page 2 of L56.

    This leaves the DIYer in a position that he or she can;t be employed in any way to do the work, needs to be competent and needs to comply with the other detailed provisions of the Gas Regs 1998, reg 5 onward.

    My view is that is is unlikely the question of demonstrating competence by a DIYer will ever be resolved. The opportunity to demonstrate competence would require a prosecution to be brought over an adequate installation that a DIyer had undertaken. I don’t think such a prosecution would be in the public interest. A prosecution over an inadequate DIY installation would clearly show the DIY was not competent and be successful, thus leaving the question of whether a DIYer can demonstrate competence unanswered.

    • 7 mrstaraplumbing January 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      I entirely agree with your last paragraph and therefore am in agreement with you in that that is how our law works in practice. I don’t think that makes my previous comments wrong.

      I think the point may be that DIYers will probably get away with it most of the time.
      Even poor installations simply get rectified without ever being reported and prosecuted.

      I suppose we can think of it like littering – no one takes it seriously and people don’t get prosecuted for it.

  5. 8 Walter January 18, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Competent does not mean a piece of paper issued by an institution, it is what you do – THE RESULT. I know many incompetent people who have bits of paper with flash badges on the heading.

    Primarily you need to be Competent. That is if you are doing work for yourself (no payment) or doing it for gain (payment). Further to being Competent:

    1. You need a Gas Safe ticket if you are doing any gas work for gain (payment).

    2. You can do gas work for yourself or when you do not receive payment.

    It is that simple. THAT IS THE LAW

    No 2. above was included in the law to enable retired people to work at home and do voluntary work.

    End of matter.

  6. 9 tpalavaman@yahoo.co.uk April 10, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Do not do it if you are not qualified, pls

  7. 10 gas certificate September 18, 2014 at 5:18 am

    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.


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