"Is a tightness test mandatory?"

Excerpt from Gas Safe Register News (November):

"Following our Guide to Landlords’ Gas Safety Checks and Records (October 2017), some readers have questioned whether a tightness test of the installation is recommended, as stated in the article, or whether it is mandatory. Gas Safe Register’s Technical Team says: It should be remembered that Regulation 36 of Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 (GSIUR) places certain legal duties on landlords. In law, the landlord is the duty holder and they must demonstrate compliance with the law by employing a Gas Safe registered engineer to undertake checks for them. Regulation 36 has two main duties, both of which are separate and distinct. These are Regulations 36(2) and 36(3). They are separate requirements and duties in law. Regulation 36(3) states a landlord must “ensure that each appliance and flue to which that duty extends is checked for safety within 12 months of being installed and at intervals of not more than 12 months since it was last checked for safety.” It does not mention installation pipework. However, Regulation 36(2) states: “(2) Every landlord shall ensure that there is maintained in a safe condition – (a) any relevant gas fitting; and (b) any flue which serves any relevant gas fitting.” This is the part of the regulation that covers installation pipework. Reminder: This regulation is aimed at the landlord. The HSE provides guidance to landlords on this: “How often should the pipework be checked? “Installation pipework is not covered by the annual gas safety check. But we recommend that when you request a safety check, you ask your Gas Safe registered engineer to: • Test for gas tightness on the whole gas system, including installation pipework • Visually examine the pipework (as far as is reasonably practicable).” It continues: “You should also ask your Gas Safe registered engineer to examine the installation pipework if there is any damage, for example if the tenant reports a suspected gas escape. When tenants vacate your premises, it is recommended to ask your engineer to inspect and test the pipework.” This directed to the landlord not the engineer. It is telling the landlord that pipework is not covered by the requirements of Reg 36(3) but is advising the landlord to ask you, the engineer, to undertake a check on the pipework as this will help them in their overall compliance with Reg 36(2). Therefore, the duty to comply lies with the landlord and it is their responsibility to ensure these checks are done. The engineer is required to work to GSIUR: so if they have not broken into the installation pipework gas ways there is no requirement for them to undertake a tightness test based solely on the work they have undertaken on the appliance. The ‘recommendation’ to undertake a tightness test is therefore for the engineer to assist landlords in their overall compliance. If you do not undertake a tightness test, then you should record this because the duty still remains on the landlord to demonstrate compliance with Reg 36(2) for ongoing maintenance. In addition, Regulation 36(9) states: “(9) A safety check carried out pursuant to paragraph (3) above shall include, but shall not be limited to, an examination of the matters referred to in subparagraphs (a) to (d) of regulation 26(9) of these Regulations.” This means that the safety check you perform on the appliance shall include (but not be limited to) those checks contained in Regulation 26(9). Regulation 26(9) does not refer to installation pipework – it states: “Where a person performs work on a gas appliance he shall immediately thereafter examine ….” Note the word ‘appliance’ not pipework, so Reg 26(9) does not apply. Is a tightness test mandatory?  • Landlords have TWO separate and distinct duties: – A safety check of their appliances – Ongoing maintenance of their appliances, flues and pipework • As an engineer, it is recommended you undertake a tightness test to assist landlords in their maintenance duties – but it is not mandatory unless you have broken into a gasway that necessitates an installation tightness test (see Technical Bulletin 046: Gas tightness testing requirements for examples). • If you do not undertake a tightness test, record this on your documentation to advise the landlord – it does not prevent you from undertaking safety checks on the appliance(s)."

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