Boiler services not up to scratchWhich? uncovers incompetence

20 August 2009

Boiler repairs

Independent boiler repairers rated best

A Which? investigation into boiler servicing uncovered incompetence, corner cutting and lies.

In June 2009, we invited 10 gas engineers to service a boiler at a house we’d fitted with secret cameras.

For each visit, we introduced a minor fault that stopped the boiler working; this could have been fixed in minutes by tightening a part. We told the gas engineers there was a fault when they arrived. We also altered how much gas the boiler was using so that it was at the wrong level.

The full article 'How safe is your boiler?' appears in the September 2009 issue of Which? magazine. You can subscribe to Which? magazine online.

Boiler service investigation

Of our 10 gas engineers, one gas engineer failed to turn up. Of the other nine gas engineers, three were so bad we reported them to safety watchdog the Gas Safe Register. The Gas Safe Register said that the engineers were negligent, and has launched an investigation. It is a legal requirement that anyone carrying out gas work should be on the Gas Safe Register.

This is how the gas engineers performed:

  • One gas engineer condemned our boiler and then disconnected the gas – even though it was perfectly safe.
  • Two gas engineers told us they had carried out checks which we knew they hadn’t done.
  • Five gas engineers failed to correct the boiler’s gas pressure.
  • Three gas engineers didn’t check whether our boiler needed cleaning. This is important, as a dirty boiler won’t work efficiently.
  • All of the gas engineers managed to fix the fault we introduced to stop the boiler working, apart from the one who condemned it – he didn’t get that far.
  • One gas engineer did a very good job.

Getting a good boiler service

Engineers must carry out certain checks on all gas appliances, including checking ventilation, working pressure and the flue. They should also carry out other checks depending on the type and age of the boiler. 

For more information about what a boiler service should include, see our video guide to boiler servicing.

If you’re looking for a gas engineer, try Which? Local, the recommendation site exclusively for Which? members. And if you’ve found a good gas engineer, use Which? Local to recommend them to others.

If you need to buy a new boiler, see what kind of boilers are most reliable with Which?'s boiler review, and take a look at the results of our review of boiler servicing contracts.

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