Safety warning issued as study finds majority of consumers can’t spot faulty gas appliances

More than 9 out of 10 gas customers cannot identify deadly appliances

A nationwide safety warning is being issued today, as results of a consumer study by the UK’s gas safety authority finds an overwhelming number of people in the UK cannot correctly identify unsafe gas appliances.

Gas Safe Register showed 1,200 gas consumers 10 different photographs of gas appliances. Eight were life threatening and two were completely safe. Worryingly, nearly all respondents (95 per cent) thought at least one of the potentially deadly appliances were safe, while one in 17 people (6 per cent) thought all eight dangerous appliances were safe.  Only one person correctly identified all 10 appliances as safe or dangerous.

Six of the eight dangerous appliances shown could have resulted in a gas leak, fire, explosion or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, but were safety checked before anyone was hurt.  The other two unsafe appliances were investigated by the Register after they had already leaked deadly CO fumes – in one case tragically killing the home-owner and, in the other, hospitalising a family. When gas consumers were shown a picture of the gas fire that resulted in a fatality, nearly half thought it looked safe (48 per cent).

Respondents were also asked if they would get each of the dangerous appliances checked if they were in their own home. One in 10 people said they would, but only if it broke down, and one in 14 wouldn’t get it checked at all. However, as Gas Safe Register’s survey shows, the only way to know if an appliance is safe or not is to have it safety checked annually.

Sarah Hill, stakeholder manager for Gas Safe Register, said: “Our research backs up what we, as the UK gas authority, already know – people cannot spot a deadly gas appliance as often there are no obvious signs.  That’s why it’s vital to get your gas appliances safety checked regularly by a registered engineer, who has the skills and the know-how to spot the dangers. Sadly, we also know that the consequences if you don’t can be serious, especially when CO is involved as you can’t see it, taste it or smell it.”

There is also a misconception among the public that newer appliances are safer than old ones, with more than one in five people thinking if an appliance has been fitted in the past five years it will be safe. Even if an appliance is fitted safely, it can become dangerous any number of years following installation if it is not properly maintained.

As you cannot always spot an unsafe gas appliance, it is important to have your gas appliances serviced and safety checked at least every 12 months. Gas Safe Register is urging the public to sign up to a free reminder service by visiting