Most manufacturers and authorities recommend annual boiler servicing, which is also required to keep most boilers under warranty.
Most wouldn’t consider servicing their own boiler, but those with relevant experience might wonder if they’re legally allowed to tinker with their boiler or gas appliances.
Answering the question, “can you service your own boiler?” is not as straightforward as many assume.
Can you service your own Gas boiler?
First and foremost, the law specifies a boiler service as “gas work”. Conducting “gas work” is only allowed if you’re a) a Gas Safe engineer or b) “competent” under gas regulations.
So what is gas work? Does a boiler service always count as gas work? Here’s what isn’t considered gas work, according to Gas Safe:
- Removing or replacing any knob, button, or dial that is designed to be removed by the consumer.
- Making alterations to the ‘decorative case,’ which is the exterior case that can be removed without being unscrewed.
- Work and maintenance specified in a boiler’s user manual are intended for the consumer.
You’re free to do any of the above, regardless of skill or experience level.
A proper service, however, falls under “gas work”, as we can see below.
- Maintaining, servicing, permanently adjusting, disconnecting, repairing, altering, renewing fittings or purging them of gas or air.
- If a fitting is not fully movable, changing its position is gas work.
- Removing the fitting.
- Any work involving seals or gas-related components like the burner, combustion chamber, gas valve, etc.
- Removing some casings is considered gas work, even if the casing seems decorative.
In short, a boiler service always falls under “gas work” by the above definitions.
Therefore, doing any of the above is highly unadvised unless you’re a Gas Safe engineer but still may not be illegal if you’re “competent”. But what does that mean?
Who is competent to work with gas?
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR) as amended. Approved Code of Practice and guidance states that gas work should only be undertaken by:
- “(a) by a person who has successfully completed an industry-recognised training course followed by assessment of competence. Training that leads to assessment of competence in safe gas work should be recognised by the industry’s standards setting body; or
- (b) in the case of a currently or previously registered person, where they have proved competence through a certification scheme; or
- (c) for those working at premises that fall outside the scope of the Regulations (see regulation 2(4) and associated guidance), by a person who has successfully completed an appropriate full training course followed by assessment of competence.”
If you do not fall under any of the above categories, then do not risk servicing your boiler under any circumstances.
In essence, if you’re not a Gas Safe engineer, then do not attempt to service your boiler yourself. Previous gas experience may not suffice to make you “competent”.
Is it illegal to service your own boiler?
If you’re not a gas professional or a Gas Safe engineer, then servicing your own boiler is illegal under The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
Fitting or removing gas boilers and other gas-related appliances also counts under the act.
Can you service your own oil boiler?
The Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) is the oil boiler equivalent of Gas Safe. It doesn’t seem like an engineer needs to be OFTEC registered to service an oil boiler, but this would be highly recommended.
There is no clear guidance on whether you’re legally able to service your oil boiler, as the rules are not as clear as for oil boilers. However, common sense dictates that no one who isn’t highly qualified in oil boilers and related fields should attempt to service one.
Overall, it’s safest to assume you should contact an OFTEC engineer for your oil boiler service.
Why do you need a Gas Safe engineer?
Gas Safe engineers are qualified in gas and gas appliances and are listed on the Gas Safe Register. They can legally service, install, remove, repair, and maintain boilers and gas appliances without legal limitations.
There are a few situations where a Gas Safe engineer is legally required:
- Installing or removing boilers or gas appliances.
- Conducting an annual service boiler for any rented residential property.
- Servicing the boiler in a residential home or commercial property and receiving payment.
- Building Regulations require engineers to notify the Local Authority within 30 days of the installation of a new gas heat-producing appliance.
The dangers of servicing your own boiler
Gas is potentially dangerous. Each year in the UK, there are some 31 potentially deadly gas explosions. Servicing boilers regularly is important to prevent such issues, but gas companies and manufacturers also know that some people simply can’t afford yearly services.
In many cases, only a short check is required to ensure a boiler is working safely, and this shouldn’t be too expensive. If you suspect a gas leak, ring your gas company’s emergency line and evacuate your home until you get a response. Turn off the gas emergency control valve if you can.
Any DIY services or repairs is ill-advised, even when someone falls under the definition of “competent” enough to conduct gas work.
Gas Safe engineers exist for a reason, and the strong advice is to never mess with boilers or gas appliances without discussing things with the correct professional.
You might void your warranty
Another consideration is that many manufacturers require yearly boiler services by Gas Safe engineers to maintain a warranty. Therefore, if you fail to service your boiler using a Gas Safe engineer, you might void your warranty.
If your boiler is under warranty, a Gas Safe engineer typically needs to log a yearly service with the manufacturer for as long as the warranty lasts.
In short, it’s not safe to service your own boiler if you’re not a Gas Safe engineer. The Gas Safe Register exists for a reason, and the stakes are too high. Gas is potentially dangerous - give it a wide berth unless you’re Gas Safe!