Which? boiler servicing investigation reveals shocking findingsOur secret cameras uncover dangerous gas work

22 September 2016

Boiler engineer

Our boiler servicing investigation uncovers engineers making dangerous mistakes

Our latest boiler servicing investigation filmed 10 engineers servicing a boiler. Seven failed to carry out the minimum legal checks and none fully followed the manufacturer's servicing instructions.

For the second year in a row our hidden camera investigation has uncovered boiler servicing engineers cutting corners and putting consumers at risk. 

Four of the ten engineers did not fix the gas pressure that we had deliberately set too high, one fabricated test results on his paperwork and another falsely claimed to have checked the radiators and hot water storage cylinder.

Read more about our boiler servicing investigation and download our free boiler servicing checklist at getting a good boiler service.

Boiler servicing investigation

Our investigation looked at 10 boiler servicing engineers. Six from well-known companies AA, British Gas, Corgi, HomeServe, SSE and Scottish Power, and four independent engineers. 

We hid our cameras in a rented house with an actor posing as the owner. Before each service, an expert engineer serviced the boiler and deliberately set the gas pressure too high. Our hidden cameras revealed that:

  • four of the ten engineers did not fix the gas pressure we deliberately set too high 
  • none followed the manufacturer's instructions fully 
  • one engineer even fabricated test results on the paperwork.

Other dangerous mistakes included not safely isolating the boiler from the electricity supply, not testing the safety device (which works to protect householders by shutting the boiler down if a flame isn’t present), letting gas hiss out into the room and not checking for leaks.

We also asked 178 engineers what they think about boiler servicing. Shockingly, one in three* said they felt the standards of boiler servicing in general were poor, or very poor.

We contacted all of the companies we investigated to give them our findings. All the firms said they take safety seriously and wanted to investigate further.

Boiler servicing: what you can do

You should get your boiler serviced every year, which costs around £70 on average. You can get boiler servicing cover which includes an annual service and covers the cost of any repairs. However, our research has revealed that most people will save money by paying for an annual servicing and any repairs on an adhoc basis.

Always make sure the engineer is Gas Safe registered. But because of our findings, we would still recommend using our checklist (click the link above) to ensure they cover the basics.

A good boiler service should last at least 30 minutes. So if it’s shorter, ask why. Ask for a written report and check it is accurately filled out and includes the engineer's full name. If you have any concerns, contact the Gas Safe Register.

We shared our findings with the Gas Safe Register and the Health and Safety Executive (which oversees Gas Safe).

*(Survey: 178 gas engineers, April and May 2016)

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