Gas safety tips and advice for your home

12th Sep 2023 10 minute read
Lincoln Smith
Lincoln Smith

Just because you can’t see gas, or even smell it a lot of the time, that doesn’t mean it can’t hurt you. Gas Safety Week (September 11-17) was set up by the Gas Safe Register to raise awareness of the risks posed by unsafe installations, highlight what to look out for and hopefully protect people’s health.

Carbon monoxide (CO) can be produced by any natural gas-burning appliance, caused by the incomplete burning of fossil fuels. It’s odourless, colourless and poisonous, and even a brief exposure to it can make you seriously ill. Breathing it in can lead to anything from headache, dizziness and nausea to lung problems, loss of consciousness and death. 

But also remember that, as well as CO poisoning, unsafe appliances put you at risk of gas leaks, fires and explosions.

We’ve listed our key tips to keep you safe at home.

Avoid danger with an annual gas safety check

Before going over the important points and things to notice around gas safety, it’s worth acknowledging that prevention is usually the best cure. Getting your gas appliances (boiler, cooker, hob and fires) checked by a professional once a year will ensure that they are all working safely, meaning you won’t have to worry so much about all the risks. 

Gas safety for homeowners

If you own the property where you live, then you are not actually legally required to keep a Gas Safety record, but we would advise you do so. Getting a qualified, Gas Safe registered engineer to check and service your appliances will give you and your family peace of mind, as well as stand you in good stead if you decide to sell your home. 

Just like getting an MOT for your car, make sure your engineer gives you copies of all documentation showing your equipment has been checked, serviced and (where needed) repaired or replaced. 

Legal gas safety requirements for landlords

If you are renting out one or more homes for people to live in, then you are legally required to ensure they are safe for habitation and follow the government’s Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. As above, contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to arrange visits.

You will need to get a Gas Safety Certificate for every property you let to tenants, or face heavy penalties if you breach the regulations. Each case of infringement carries a standard penalty of a £6,000 fine or six months’ imprisonment. But even this may seem small compared to the possible long-term consequences for the people who live in your homes. 

Standard, practical gas safety measures for all households

The Gas Safe Register sets out a list of the most common tips to bear in mind when it comes to gas safety awareness, but there are a couple more of our own that we would add into the mix. 

  • Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer

When it comes to fitting, repairing and servicing your appliances, you must be able to trust the professional doing the work. You can search for a local engineer near your postcode at or call Gas Safe on 0800 408 5500. 

  • Look into reputable recommended businesses

Do a little research into the background of who you might ask to look at your gas appliances. Engineers only need to take a written exam to become Gas Safe registered, so it’s worth checking their experience, the company they work for and the reputation of the business. 

  • Check your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card

You’ll need to look at both sides to make sure they are who they say they are. Information showing they are qualified for the work you need doing is on the back of the card. 

  • Check your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card

You’ll need to look at both sides to make sure they are who they say they are. Information showing they are qualified for the work you need doing is on the back of the card. 

  • Get all your gas appliances checked and serviced annually

As mentioned above, booking a gas safety check and service every year will ensure your home stays safe. If you rent your home, ask your landlord for the gas safety record. Unsafe appliances put you at risk of leaks, fires and explosions, as well as poisoning. 

  • Know the 6 signs of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning

The key things to watch out for are: headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, physical weakness and loss of consciousness. These are all signs of harmful gas in the atmosphere. 

  • Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm

This is essential for detecting carbon monoxide in the air and will sound an alert if the gas is present in your home.

  • Recognise the warning signs

If your appliances are not working properly, you might notice black marks or stains around them, too much condensation in the room, pilot lights going out and lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones.

  • Make sure vents and chimneys are unblocked

Ventilation is a vital part of ensuring your appliances burn gas properly, so keep airways clear and clean chimneys regularly. 

  • Don’t misuse gas appliances

Using them for anything other than their intended purpose (e.g. heating a room with a gas hob or cooking food over a gas fire) can lead to undue wear and tear, or a build up of dangerous deposits, which can in turn cause leaks.

  • Never work on a gas appliance yourself

It can be tempting to think you can save time and money with a quick fix, or by following a video on YouTube, but in reality this can be incredibly dangerous. An unprofessional eye will not know when something has been done incorrectly, and you will likely invalidate any guarantees you have on the appliance.

  • Follow emergency procedures

If you smell gas, feel unwell when your CO alarm goes off or suspect immediate danger: open doors and windows immediately to get fresh air, turn off all appliances and the supply at the meter, extinguish any flames or cigarettes, leave electrical switches alone and contact the relevant National Gas Emergency service number. In England, Wales and Scotland this is 0800 111 999.

  • If you feel unwell following an emergency

Visit your local doctor or hospital immediately and inform them you may have inhaled carbon monoxide.

  • Spread the word 

Awareness is the key to keeping your family, friends and community safe. Feel free to mention gas safety issues in conversation and share safety information where possible. 

What causes carbon monoxide poisoning? 

Carbon monoxide is released into the air as a result of burning fossil fuels without enough oxygen (which is why ventilation is so important). The most common cause of this is domestic appliances that are poorly installed, faulty or used incorrectly. 

Carbon monoxide can therefore enter the body via the lungs during breathing, where the molecules attach themselves to haemoglobin in the blood. Haemoglobin carries oxygen around the body, so this will stop the body getting the amount of oxygen it needs to work properly, leading to collapse, or even death. 

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and what should you do? 

We mentioned most symptoms above, but the key signs of CO poisoning (in order of severity) are: 

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle pain
  • Personality changes
  • Confusion
  • Weakness and collapse
  • Lung and heart problems
  • Loss of consciousness

If you notice these in yourself or in others in the home, shut off all appliances, check your carbon monoxide alarm and call for medical help immediately. These symptoms are not isolated to carbon monoxide poisoning, but if you suspect gas to be the culprit go outside for fresh air and open windows and doors. 

How can I detect carbon monoxide?

As carbon monoxide cannot be seen, tasted or smelled, it is very difficult to know when it is present in the air. That’s why it’s imperative to get a carbon monoxide alarm for your home – one that will sound a loud alert when it detects the gas in the air. This precaution could save you and your family from irreversible damage to your health. 

How can I tell if I have a gas leak? 

Aside from carbon monoxide, it could also be possible for you to experience a leak in your gas supply somewhere in your home. This could be down to damage or corrosion to the gas lines, and can potentially lead to not only poisoning, but an explosion or fire. Here are five signs that should start ringing alarm bells: 

A rotten smell

You might not know this, but gas companies add a stinky substance called mercaptan to the supply. This means that odourless gases are detectable by the human nose and people can easily spot if there is a leak solely from the smell.

Dead plants

If the gas lines to your home run under your garden, then one sign of a leaking pipe will be a patch of dead grass or other vegetation. 

Hissing sound

There’s no mistaking this one. If you can actually hear the sound of hissing around or near a gas pipe, then it’s fairly certain that you have a leak. And not just a minor leak, either – it needs to be fairly major to make a noise. If this is around a natural gas supply line, then you may have already noticed the smell, and you should evacuate immediately, following the emergency procedures mentioned earlier. If it’s around an aircon or refrigeration gas line, then turn it off right away and call a professional engineer to check it out.  

Small bubbles

The bubble test is a quick and easy way to check if you have a gas leak. While the gas is on, mix some washing up liquid with water in a tub and wipe down the suspected pipe or area with a sponge. If small bubbles start to appear, then they are being filled up by something – you have a gas leak! 

White mist or fog

A broken or corroded gas main supply line could cause an unusual fog or misty cloud around your property in cold or damp conditions. If you see this, call the Gas Emergency line right away on 0800 111 999. 

Is your home gas safe?

In general, the gas systems in the vast majority of homes operate perfectly well. But over time, equipment and pipes can wear out or corrode, leaving you vulnerable to leaks and all the possible repercussions.

Take time to re-read the tips above – know the signs of a carbon monoxide and natural gas leak, get your boiler and other appliances checked annually, install a CO alarm and always use a Gas Safe registered engineer.  

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