18 Sep 2019

Day in the life of a gas engineer

All gas engineers in the UK have to be Gas Safe registered. The Gas Safe Register manages the register of legally qualified gas engineers in the UK and aims to protect people from unsafe gas work.

There are more than 130,000 gas engineers on the register, who will all have had their gas work assessed to make sure they are safe to work on gas.

So what does it take to become a qualified gas engineer?

Engineers have to go through a rigorous training programme in order to become registered. This includes assessment on all aspects of gas safety, from gas pressure and ventilation to pipework and flueing. They also have to spend time in a workshop environment identifying controls, calculating ventilation for gas appliances and faulty installations.

Further training and certification is needed on gas boilers, fires, water heaters and central heating systems, including theory and practical exams.

Every gas engineer has to re-sit their qualifications every five years throughout their career, making the gas industry one of the most highly regulated in the UK.

Meet Jay, one of 21 qualified gas engineers at GreenSquare. He joined two years ago and has worked as a gas engineer for 20 years after making a career change from the leisure industry. 

When I first started I found the training very intensive and a lot of newly qualified engineers do. I’ve been doing the job for a long time now so I’m used to it, but I’m still always still learning. A boiler now is very different to a boiler when I first started! There is always something new with gas work, new changes and new regulations, so we have to stay up to date.

A typical day for me I’d get to my first job at 8.00am. We can work on a variety of jobs from breakdowns, installations and servicing, currently I’m doing a lot of the annual gas safety checks for our customers in Wiltshire.

When I get to a customer’s home I’ll introduce myself. I work in the area a lot so often the customer already knows me! I always ask before I start if there’s any issues I need to be aware of and I bring in all my tools. Hopefully I get a cup of coffee!

I start with a lot of pre-checks before I even touch the boiler. I also take a picture of where it is and just get a good visual of the boiler really – to make sure there’s nothing immediately obvious. I’ll then turn it off and make it safe.

Next comes a gas soundness test, which is in essence a test of the whole installation, to make sure everything is okay and there’s no gas leaks etc. 

The service can depend on the age of the boiler, with older ones some need stripping and cleaning out. Others I use a special probe which measures the combustion and also looks at tolerances etc - we can get good number readings or bad number readings and good is what we want to see!

When analysing the boiler I’ll test the gas rate too, boilers have different kilowatts and so by testing the rate we can make sure its burning the right amount of gas. It’s also important to check all the safety devices on the boiler too.

Water softeners can increase the life of a boiler, reducing scale build up, so I’ll often fit one or need to clean one out. Some also have filters on them, which if it’s an older boiler can get blocked up, so I sort that out too. 

If there are no major issues then a service normally take up to an hour. Typically I’ll have about six or seven jobs in a day, but if I’m on call I will go to more. I was on call last night visiting a customer who was concerned about their carbon monoxide alarm as it had been beeping. Thankfully it wasn’t anything serious, just a fault with the alarm. So I did all the checks and everything was fine.

With breakdowns the jobs can vary, mainly they’re to do with a customer having no heating or hot water and we are particularly busy during the winter period. Sometimes it can be a quick fix that takes 15 minutes and sometimes I can be there for a couple of hours.

I enjoy having a chat with the customers, especially the elderly ones as often they don’t see anyone else that day. Some like to watch and ask questions about what I’m doing. 

I really enjoy my job, it’s varied, interesting and gets me out and about. When you go to a customer’s house and you solve and fix the problem, and they get their hot water back again for example, it’s really satisfying.

This week is national Gas Safety Week (16-22 September) an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of gas safety. Find out more here.

Top tip!  Never attempt to work on a gas appliance yourself, always seek the help of a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer who can work on your gas cooker, boiler or fire in a safe way.