To highlight and identify the risks posed by poorly installed open-flued gas heaters leaking carbon monoxide, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has launched its 2019 awareness and testing campaign.
The campaign, which commenced in March, will see 150 newly installed gas heaters in Victorian homes tested over three months. The results of this campaign will inform whether plumbers need further education and training on installing and commissioning gas heaters.
Partial combustion of natural gas can produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas that can cause death or chronic illness if it spills or leaks from gas heaters. A blocked flue or chimney, negative air pressure, or non-compliant installation can have tragic consequences.
CO poisoning can happen in any building with gas heating appliances, including newer models. In Victoria over the past decade there have been several deaths from CO poisoning.
As part of its 2019 campaign, the VBA Plumbing Audit Program is inspecting newly-installed gas heaters across the state, checking for correct installation and CO leakage. The three-month audit program follows last year’s statewide education and testing program of appropriately registered and licensed plumbers to ensure they have the skills and awareness of issues that can arise from incorrectly installed or poorly maintained gas heaters.
The VBA will use the results of the audit as the basis for ongoing education and information activities with practitioners and homeowners on the risks posed by CO poisoning.
Always use licensed or registered people
With colder weather approaching, the VBA and Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) are stepping up safety warnings to Victorian households and recommend gas heaters are serviced and checked by an appropriately licensed or registered plumber at least every two years.
Only heater manufacturers and appropriately licensed or registered practitioners can legally conduct heating work and have the appropriate insurance. Using an unqualified practitioner for installation and servicing puts lives and warranties at risk.
Consumers should always ask to see their plumber’s photo ID card, which shows the classes of plumbing work they are registered or licensed to do. In addition, you can check that your plumber is registered or licensed by going to the ‘Find a Practitioner’ tab on the VBA website (www.vba.vic.gov.au). All gas work, including the installation, relocation or replacement of any gas appliance or the conversion of an appliance from one gaseous fuel to another requires the plumber to issue the consumer with a Compliance Certificate.
Electrical work related to heaters requires an electrician licensed by ESV. Visit the ESV website (www.esv.vic.gov.au) for more information.
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