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The real cost of a cowboy gas fitter

When it comes to changing your boiler, check who's doing the fitting

Phill Brewster, Gas Safe Register’s national investigations manager, tells us why it can be expensive and dangerous to  trust your friends when it comes to gas:

“At Gas Safe Register, we’ve found that the British public is wasting £100 million a year on rectifying illegal gas jobs that put their homes and families in immediate danger.

These illegal gas jobs are costing us an extra 25 per cent on average to rectify. And they are often carried out by tradesmen who are recommended by our friends or family, but are not even qualified to work safely with gas.

One in five of the homes investigated by Gas Safe Register were found to be ‘Immediately Dangerous’ and the appliances had to be disconnected straight away to make them safe. In all cases the work had been done by an illegal gas fitter.

Yet research carried out for Gas Safe Register found that one in three (39%) people would trust a tradesman to do their gas work purely on recommendation from a friend or family member. Five times as many people would take a recommendation on trust, rather than actively check whether they were registered to work safely and legally on gas. Most people chose a fitter that they liked, who had been recommended and who offered a good price.

For one couple, Dean and Jenny Yardley, trust in their neighbour’s recommendation cost them dear.  After their home was flooded, they hired a gas fitter who was recommended to them by a neighbour. The fitter put in their gas cooker and fire, then went on to fit Dean’s sister’s boiler. It was only when her boiler went wrong that Dean had his own gas work checked, revealing a highly dangerous gas leak which could have caused an explosion. “It cost us an extra £1,300 to sort it all out and the insurance company wouldn’t pay because the gas fitter was illegal. We took the recommendation on trust and didn’t think about checking him out. You don’t think of asking for the card do you?” said Dean.

In the right hands gas is perfectly safe, so it’s better to be gas safe than sorry.  Gas Safe Register advises:

  • Never trust a tradesman on recommendation alone.
  • Always ask for the Gas Safe Register ID card. It’s the only way you can guarantee that your engineer is legal.
  • Check on the back of the Gas Safe Register ID that the engineer is registered to carry out the work he intends to do in your home. If they’re registered to fit gas boilers, it doesn’t mean they are automatically qualified to put in a gas fire.
  • Check a gas engineer is registered by visiting
  • After the gas work is done, nominate your home for a free gas safety check. If your home is chosen, the inspector will check that the gas work is the correct standard.

For more advice on avoiding illegal gas fitters visit or call 0800 408 5500.”