How to stop your gas appliance breaking down this Christmas – and what to do if it does

publication date: Dec 1, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Book

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What to do if your Gas Appliance breaks down this Christmas

As the temperatures drop at this time of year, many householders rely on gas boilers and fires to provide hot water and stay toasty and warm at home, and on gas cookers to provide hot meals. Unfortunately, the increased pressure this puts on gas appliances means that they can break down just when you most need them. Having your appliances serviced regularly means you have peace of mind that they are working efficiently and safely right through the winter.

According to a Gas Safe Register survey a couple of years ago, as many as one in ten people in the UK have had their gas central heating or boiler fail during the Christmas holiday period, and one in ten have been in hot water – because they’ve been left without any!

It is certainly inconvenient, but, worse, it could mean that your gas appliances are faulty and are putting you at risk of gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning, fires or explosions. Badly-fitted and poorly-serviced appliances are the main offenders, and it’s a grim fact that as recently as 2012, incidents like these killed 18 people and injured a further 339 in the UK.

In a Gas Safe survey, gas engineers said that most problems with gas appliances are a direct result of poor or non-existent servicing.


Seven tips to make sure your central heating works during Christmas

To make sure your central heating doesn’t break down during the festive season, we’ve come up with some tips to help make sure you have a merry, warm and filling Xmas!

  • Get your gas appliances – including boilers, gas fires and cookers – serviced and safety-checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer. It’s good to get this done well ahead of the winter period so that there’s no danger of things breaking down when you have a houseful of family and guests.

    Some people, such as the elderly, or chronically ill, are entitled to a free safety check. To find a registered engineer in your locality, call Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500, or look up and also check out our Gas safe Checklist

  • Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm.  An alarm will alert you to the presence of carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that can be produced by unsafe gas appliances. In addition, it’s wise to make sure you recognise the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is particularly true in winter, when the first signs such as drowsiness, headaches or lethargy can be mistaken for ‘flu. For more safety tips visit

  • If one of your gas appliances does let you down, make sure you employ a Gas Safe registered engineer to fix it. S/he should be qualified to rectify the appliance that is faulty. It’s a legal requirement, and for good reason – it keeps you and yours safe.

  • Always check the front and back of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card carefully to make sure it’s valid.

  • If you rent your home, your landlord is legally obliged to arrange a safety check of your gas appliances once a year, and to maintain and service them regularly.

  • If your home is at risk of flooding, contact a Gas Safe Registered engineer, who will visit your home and advise on precautions you can take to limit risk, including how to turn off the gas supply. If flooding is imminent, then call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999

  • In any type of gas emergency, call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999


Christmas and New Year can bring all sorts of unexpected domestic calamities: bad weather can play havoc with travel plans, people forget to put the turkey in the oven, and family arguments can erupt when everyone is crammed together in the same place over a few days.

However, gas safety is one area where you can plan ahead. Be sure that you have taken all the right steps to reduce the risk of gas-related accidents or breakdowns this Christmas. Then worry about cooking the turkey!

As well as our Gas Safe checklist we have plenty more safety checklists on our site including:-



All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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