8 Tips To Avoid Being Ripped-Off By A Heating Engineer
- Gas safe – Maybe an obvious one, but make sure the heating engineer is a member of Gas Safe, and has a Gas Safe Number (553166 for example). Gas Safe is the regulating body for the gas industry. If he’s not, he cannot legally work on your boiler or touch any gas appliances in your home. Unfortunately being “Gas Safe” doesn’t necessarily make you an instant expert on boilers and heating systems etc. The Gas Safe course is a 14 week course part time (1 day per week), followed by an open book exam at the end, and you need ZERO plumbing or heating experience to get onto the course. There was a 40 year old chef on my course, straight after the course he got a job with British Gas…
- CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers) – Make sure your plumber is registered with the CIPHE. The days when a plumber had to come through a proper apprenticeship to become qualified, are gone. The industry is not properly regulated now and there are people doing online courses in a matter of weeks, getting a few business cards printed, and then calling themselves plumbers. The only people you can be sure are qualified are those registered with the CIPHE (Where to be a member you need to have a minimum of 10 years experience in the trade, and your NVQ Levels 2 & 3 – so at least you know someone has vetted your plumber, and there’s a better chance he’ll know what he’s doing).
- Check references – Being a member of Gas Safe & the CIPHE does still not prove this plumber is trustworthy and dependable. It’s always good to check their references too. These days with the internet, you can quickly and easily do a Google search of the engineer or his/her company and find out what others have to say about them. I wouldn’t trust review sites, as the information on them can be manipulated, I would ask to speak to some of this persons customers if you’re feeling unsure.
- Inexperienced workers – The old trick employed by many plumbing and heating contractors, sending novice plumbers or apprentices to jobs, paying them £85 per day, and then charging them out at £85 per hour or something. Not really on, but a widely used practice in the industry. Make sure the plumber doing your job is in fact qualified to do that specific job and has experience doing it. There is a reason some companies charge a premium for their services, because their engineers are experienced and know what they’re doing. Cheap prices, often mean cheap, inexperienced labour too (as well as materials).
- Inadequate materials – Insist your plumber uses copper. Too many “plumbers” are opting for the quick, cheap plastic plumbing fittings. They are never as good as copper, and we only let our plumbers use them if there is no other option OR if they’re there already and the customer does not want to get them all replaced. If we use them, we only use the best brand Hep2o, anything else we wouldn’t stand behind. Soldered copper would always be our preffered option though, so we’d recommend you insist on that too.
- No boiler warranty – Make sure before your heating engineer leaves your property, he’s correctly filled out your boiler warranty slip. Either he can send this off or you can, but the boiler details and installers details need to be on there. It’s just good practice to fill this out for customers.
- Boilers Benchmark – Another piece of paper that NEEDS filling out, is the boilers Benchmark at the back of the installation manual. There are several checks etc that your heating engineer needs to carry out and sign off on, to validate your boilers warranty.
- No Gas Safe notification – Do not settle a heating engineers final invoice UNTIL he’s shown you proof that he has registered your boiler installation with Gas Safe. Without it you won’t be able to sell your house, and you may struggle getting the boiler manufacturer to uphold the boilers warranty if anything goes wrong. We go to jobs all too often where the so called “heating engineer” has done a runner and never filled out any paperwork, we’ll then need to charge the customer to perform all the checks and fill it out…when it should be included in the boiler installation.