Smart Meters – Beware and advice needed?

by Readers Question

8:15 AM, 18th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Smart Meters – Beware and advice needed?

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Smart Meters – Beware and advice needed?

I have just received a letter from Eon saying they have “issued a safety warning notice stating that the boiler is unsafe to use” in a house I rent out. They wanted to shut the boiler down, but the tenant (a very good one) refused to accept the notice or allow them to shut it down because the reason is ridiculous and both “engineers” who visited admitted they are not gas-safe registered, but I can’t confirm that.

The tenant wanted a Smart meter and apparently it is just a plug in one and all the engineers did was switch the boiler of and back on again???? Not had a chance to visit yet ,but it all seems a little strange.

The boiler is a modern Potterton balanced flue type which was only serviced a few months ago along with Gas Safety Certificate for house which all passed ok. Also, recently Potterton very kindly came and replaced a faulty component in the boiler and left a safety check list which included the flue and all was good.

The Eon “engineers” are claiming that the flue is unsafe, where it goes through the ceiling into the loft, it has a gap of one mm max gap around the flue probably plaster shrinkage. They did not go into loft to investigate further. My gas engineer always checks in loft to make sure all ok.

I was also Corgi registered for many years before semi retiring and know this flue should not fail a safety check, my gas engineer who I know and trust 100% says that is totally ridiculous, but of course I can’t ignore it.

I would like advice on what to do next, because this could actually be an offence with the issue of the safety certificate plus if these so-called engineers are not gas-safe registered how can they issue an unsafe notice.

Other LL’s need to be made aware of this and have any others had the same problem?.

Thank you for help.

Dennis



Comments

Sam Addison

10:27 AM, 18th July 2019
About 5 months ago

I had a similar situation when tenants switched to a smart meter (Apparently as Landlord I have no say in this!). After discussion with my letting agent I had an engineer visit and issue a new gas safety cert. It may not have been necessary but the peace of mind was worth the cost. I could also have asked the tenants to pay for this but prefer to look after my tenants and this is a one-off incident.

BadgerMyBadger

12:01 PM, 19th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Hi Dennis,

I actually fit smart meters so I may be able to provide some insight to the issue.

First of all, all meter fitters, regardless of which company they work for, are trained as dual fuel, and have been for many years now.
To fit the smart meter display (the plug in device), we have to change both the electric and gas meters to smart meters. This involves removing the gas meter, which in turn interupts the gas supply, which means we have to check all gas appliances for safety. This is why they were looking at your appliances in the first place.
However, our qualifications and scope of work only allows us to complete a visual check of the appliance, and so we may visually pick up issues that are deemed 'immediately dangerous', but more in depth testing (which we can not conduct) may show there is no issue. This is approved by Gas Safe and therefore no company will pay compensation if they disconnect your appliances when it is not necessary.

Thirdly, the issue that Eon have flagged up is actually only deemed as 'Not to current standards', which doesn't actually exist anymore, the only thing they would need to do is verbally inform you that it's not right, and whether you have it sorted or not is up to you.

In regards to the letter you received, I would ignore it if you have a valid Gas Safety Certificate. If the appliance was deemed 'immediately dangerous', and your tenant refused to have the boiler capped off, they legally would have had to call National Grid, or the local Gas Transporter, for them to come and inspect it and make the decision to cap the boiler or not.

TLDR; Don't worry about it, the Gas Safety Certificate covers you. Yes all meter engineers are gas Safe.

P

14:34 PM, 19th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by BadgerMyBadger at 19/07/2019 - 12:01
All gas engineers that work on meters for suppliers have to be gas safe registered to comply with legal obligations of working on gas under HSE but its not like been a boiler engineer. I work in the industry and I can only advise that smart meters aren't very smart I would advise anybody from getting one especially if your supllier is only Monday - Friday these meters consistently stop working and leave you without gas or electricity and if your supplier isn't open you need to wait until they reopen as currently they aren't required to operate 24 hours. So if its a Friday evening you could be without either gas or electricity until Monday and worse if it is a Bank Holiday weekend.

Dennis Leverett

14:56 PM, 19th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by BadgerMyBadger at 19/07/2019 - 12:01
Hi, Thank you for your reply. The notice received is a "Danger- Do not use. Gas Safety Warning Notice" and states "The customer refused permission to turn off" sent to me in the post 7 days after action carried out. Why are they allowed to do this when they are in fact wrong. The reason the Tenant refused to allow them to turn it off is because they have a disabled daughter and need the boiler, he would have phoned me if there actually was a problem. He is a maintenance engineer for a local major brewery and knows enough. When you say "not to current standards" that is also wrong as my gas fitter told me and I have since contacted Potterton who say it does not contravene any current gas regulations regarding flues. As a non gas-safe fitter are you allowed to come to tenants house and alter the gas without my permission, I had no idea this was happening, and do you provide a safety certificate to cover work carried out because there is plenty of bad press at the moment about Smart meter installers. Surely you carry out a gas pressure test before and after any works carried out, I used to when I was Corgi registered before semi retiring. I'm not after compensation even though I am wasting time because of this and had to get my gas engineer to check it out for mine and my tenants peace of mind.
I've also spoken to Gas-Safe who have asked for an update once I have all the facts including a copy of the "Unsafe Notice". I'm not having a go at you personally, there's good and bad in everything, but in my years of Corgi I've come across some really dangerous work carried out by "qualified fitters". Those Eon fitters should not have condemned that boiler. Imagine the worry if those tenants had no idea about it.

BadgerMyBadger

15:34 PM, 19th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dennis Leverett at 19/07/2019 - 14:56
Hi Dennis,

I understand you aren't having a go at me, and I hope you understand I was just giving you the information that I have in order to help you.

We are Gas Safe, we take the exams and get given our Gas Safe ID card. I would upload mine for you to see however I don't want to reveal my name, gas Safe number etc. As far as altering the gas without your permission, we have to change the metered 'technically' every 15 years or so, (although in real world terms this doesn't happen) however I am not clued up about the regulations on whether we need permission from the landlord if we are changing the meter to smart instead of dumb again.
I believe tenancy agreements state to be notified of change of supplier, but I am not sure if they state anything about meters.
Yes we do conduct tightness tests before and after the meter installation because we are interupting the gas supply. We do not issue any certificate for any work completed other than a checklist that confirms everything is okay, unless a safety notice is left.
In regards to the flue, my knowledge is that if a flue travels through a compartment then it needs to be sealed either side, whether that is actually a regulation or just a rule from the supplier, I couldn't say.
As I said before, if they were concerned about it, and they weren't allowed to cap it off, then they would have called your local gas transporter. Does the letter give any sanctions i.e. if you do not respond we will disconnect your gas supply etc? If not, I wouldn't worry about it and would assume they are just covering their bums in case something ever goes wrong.

Dennis Leverett

21:02 PM, 19th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by BadgerMyBadger at 19/07/2019 - 15:34If a flue goes through a wall to outside then yes it has to be sealed outside and inside to avoid fumes getting back into the house. If a flue goes through a non flammable ceiling into a loft space that is not living space and assuming its fixed correctly then it does not have to be sealed except for decorative purposes. Had they have checked in the loft they would have seen a collar on the loft side which is good workmanship but only serves to avoid dust, dirt etc. from coming down through and not a requirement of gas regulation. If the flue went up through a living space it would be good practice as a fire safety point to seal it appropriately. I agree with P on Smart Meters and would never have one, I was once told wrongly by my supplier it is a legal requirement to have one and they could fit one without my permission, I received an apology after complaining. I'm fully aware of how much utilities I'm using, it's common sense. Without a Smart meter I am in control.

Boots

21:57 PM, 19th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Dennis,
I am also a smart meter engineer.
All are gassafe registered , but the problem is the zero to hero. No experience in the gas industry and minimal qualification. Just enough to be legal. This to me sounds like you're experience. It's not just EON, but all of the suppliers.

Richard

6:55 AM, 20th July 2019
About 5 months ago

I’m also a meter fitter...I am also a qualified electrician and have all the Gas Safe qualifications including boilers, cookers, fires etc.

A meter install involves pressure checks before and after each install / alteration to gas pipework. (HSE requirement). The last person working on the gas HAVE to visual check appliances for safety. I personally would not condemn a boiler for a slight gap but do advise to have any gap sealed. If daylight can be seen through the flue length then that is Immediately Dangerous. The key question is ......can products of combustion enter back into the property.
I’ve installed many hundreds of boilers for BG in the past and yes I’ve condemned new boilers and also ones with a fresh landlord cert. I would have pinned it as Not To Current Standards but we are not doing that anymore just Immediately Dangerous.
Now I agree the meter guy was over zealous but you need to know for an engineer to miss a gas safety issue it means pretty much being suspended by the company and a full investigation. Term thrown under the bus comes to mind.

Dennis Leverett

10:01 AM, 20th July 2019
About 5 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Richard at 20/07/2019 - 06:55
The whole point is it was not a gas safety issue in any shape or form, no maybe's, and could have caused a lot of stress to a tenant with no understanding had they have shut down the boiler and a cost to me to have to pay an engineer to re-commission it. My gas engineer tells me he see's this on a regular basis and rarely is there an actual problem. The training is obviously not fit for purpose and meter fitters are just covering their backsides without a care for the consumer. I could have been reported to the LA for renting a house not fit to live in because of the meter fitters actions, it's not good enough!!!

Badger

16:04 PM, 20th July 2019
About 5 months ago

I'm trying to think what the collective noun for smart meter fitter might be, for verily I have never seen so many gathered together in one place before. 🙂

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