The Gas Man Yorkshire

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March 11, 2018

James speaks with Dean, a gas engineer from Yorkshire who runs a small family business serving the area of Yorkshire.

Show Notes:

James : Hello and welcome to the next episode of property renovation podcast and today I’m really happy to have Dean on, he is In other words, “the gas man yorkshire” and I can’t wait the s asking him some questions I think is going to be a good episode. So, dean, welcome to the podcast.

Dean :Hello

James : Dean can we start off by saying, whats your background and what made you choose a been a gas engineer skill?

Dean : So I was previously employed by a well-known service and energy supplier. I’ve always, as long as I can remember, I wanted to run my own business and I’ve always wanted to be mechanical trade, So my vision was to think not like a provider, which in a more personable way, local locally and what my life, my customers can talk to us anytime of the day or night. You don’t get this from major players except in extreme circumstances, such as gas leaks for example, therefore we provide the benefits of an element of my experience on a local level. We’re able to offer a wide range of services these companies to currently got 30 years experience in the service industry.

James : Has it been a challenge to grow in the business or have you found that you’ve been loved? because it sounds like you provide quite a unique service there.

Dean : Yeah. Like I say, we try to provide the widest range of services possible as opposed to say, for example, who just wants to fit a gas boiler but our vision really is to keep it compact, keep it small because it’s myself, my wife, Nicky, and an apprentice, Nathan.

James : Cool.

Dean : Ok and what certificates are required to be a gas engineer?. Can you tell us about like the level of training and the refreshers because I do know that you have to go and refresh your knowledge every now and again as well and stay on top of regulations.

Dean : OK so I hold a city and guilds qualification in gas installation studies, as well as current ACS accreditation in different categories for the various elements in my occupation as well as enable associate’s degree and energy efficiency accreditation. So I can give clear advice to her homeowners, specific needs in relation to cost and comfort in the home, although some gas engineers may have taken a different route such as relevant, engineering training courses and apprenticeships coupled with an approved centres competency demonstration test. They may have shadowed a qualified engineer and then sat in written and practical tests. Keeping up to date is a  requirement and we have a dedicated training magazine which provides updates and legislation changes, we must attend a training centre  every five years to demonstrate competency in our workscope. My specific competency in workscopes are, combustion analysis, which we need to be able to do, so we can commission modern boilers, cookers, fires, pipework, range cooker boilers, un-vented cylinders, warm are units, water heating and appliances such as gas tumble dryers.

Dean : I mean, it does sound really complex, what kind of questions that your’re asked, do they make it complex enough because it’s a very responsible skill to have?

Dean : The difference between a gas engineer and a plumber is one that, to have the complete range of skills. It’s very, very expensive, you may just want to be able to fit central heating, so you only need a specific element of these skills to demonstrate safety.

James :What’s the most common assumptions that you’ve heard homeowners make regarding promise versus engineers?

Dean :Well, I trained in gas installation studies by that we studied the flame speeds of gases, the specific gravities of gases and how a gas burner operates and things like that, whereas a plumber may not have done but asked to demonstrate competency in being able to do it in a safe manner. Emergency Situations, gas escapes.

James :Yeah. There’s lots to consider.

Dean : Very much so

James : So if someone was listening and thinking about like pursuing a career in gas. What would they, what’s it like? What’s a good start for them?

Dean : A good start for somebody that wants to go into the gas industry and it depends on whether, which avenue they want to pursue if they want to just go in fitting a gas boiler, or indeed anything involved in gas engineering, from fitting a cooker or laying service pipes in the road, there’s a lot to consider. A good start would be to contact the local technical college who can offer advice, and a list of  contacts which will take on trainees and apprentice schemes.

James : I’ve probably had a couple of times, before anyone considers going down that route because it is a bit of investment, I guess, just to make sure they like it. Would you advise anyone to follow an engineer around if they’ve got like a friend of the family or someone that’s willing to do that, but just to shadow them for a while, not actually do the work, but just to see whether it’s something that you’d like to do.

Dean : Yeah, without a doubt, it’s a good good avenue to go down and then the acknowledge then take up the color schemes that are available in Europe. Just inflammation as portfolio evidence that photographic evidence and things like that in good stead to be able to, to relevant examinations, to be able to come into the gas industry.

James : So what’s the common concerns shared between gas engineers about the safety around peoples homes?

Dean : OK, so things like DIY concerns us , people should use a gas safe registered engineer, and not only that they should question that engineer on to the competency scope. I also think and I hate to say it, but if they really did want to go about cut incidents they should make gas equipment unavailable for general sale. They’ve already got the infrastructure in place because of the whole register of gas installers and they have a card.

Dean : Another big concern is neglect. Modern appliances are far from, “fit it and forget it” pieces of equipment. So if people got them regularly checked and service that would cut out a lot of things as well.

James : We were talking about this before we come on air actually and said that, you know, it’s quite crazy that just anyone can go in and buy a boiler off the shelf.

James : If you imagine like trying to keep that under control, things would be a lot, lot safer because in the news there’s been like these explosions and things going on, and I know that just from listening to the news a few months or years ago actually, like they are related to boiler installations, you know, and it is concerning,  you have to get your boiler serviced, what is it every year, right?

Dean : Every 12 months you should get all gas appliances checked.

James : So tell us about poor installation that you’ve discovered and corrected

Dean :Well fortunately due to a greater understanding of using gas safe engineers, unsafe situations in regards to risk to health doesn’t happen very often, however poor the installation doesn’t necessarily mean safe installation. If it’s been done by somebody that isn’t gas safe registered then the warranty is null and void to begin with, and I don’t see why somebody would want to go out. If we’re doing a project at home, buy a gas appliance and try and do it themselves, spend hundreds and hundreds of pounds, have no warranty to fall back on.

James : So if someone had a boiler fitted, and it was by an engineer and the homeowner for some reason they just felt that they wasn’t quite, sure about the competency of that engineer but still, you know, they got it installed, and it’s all working. Would it be wrong of them to consider getting a second opinion and getting someone over to check it out? To make sure the installation has been carried out correctly.

Dean :Well, fortunately legislation doesn’t allow us to do that, the installation to be completed by a gas safe register engineer, from start to finish, that is they have to make sure the boiler frame for example, has been secured correctly. Not to mention the actual gas pipe routing and safety issues with that. So we can only register a boiler if it’s been installed by the gas safe registered company.

James : OK, good to know. So do you have a funny story that you could tell us about something work related?

Dean : Well, it’s pretty serious occupation, but from time to time things come up.

Dean : There was a service and repair. We got a report of the smell of gas from customer, so we had to check out the internal gas supply and this was in a block of flats, so it’s taken quite seriously, so there were the guys from Tramsco the national grid all flying around with their gasco seekers, the things that smell the gas, looking for any leaks of any description and nothing could be found, so we did all the relevant tests, there no problems here, there’s no gas excapes here. We got the same phone call previous night the night after that and it was only when the lady said the smell was coming from behind the back of the work units even though there was no gas pipe there I decided to take the back of a cupboard and unfortunately I discovered slightly be composing moggy, which the lady identified as spot who had been missing for a couple of weeks, grim but at least the case was closed!

James :That’s what I mean. If you don’t know what a moggy is is it’s actually a cat and you say you’ve found a cat behind there.

Dean : Yeah, the smell of de-composition is very similar to methane gas.

James : Yeah, That’s a picture in your head for a while.

James : Ok so the next question I’ve got is actually from someone I’ve asked in our facebook group. For those listeners out there, you can come into our private facebook group by just going to facebook.com/groups/thepropertyrenovationpodcast.

James : With this question, It’s actually two part question. So experience of most reliable boiler makes and plastic plumbing for central heating, your opinions and problems if any, which plastic system is best?

Dean : The most reliable boiler? Well a boiler is the boiler is the boiler to coin a phrase, for as much as anything and different engineers will have different points of view. Sometimes it’s based on the amount of a good feedback from the manufacturer they may have had a good warranty repair and it’s been dealt with accordingly. So they’ll go for that gas boiler and that’s the way we go. It’s all a question of personal choice. Some customers for example will read magazines until like take advice from there. When I first started, boilers were very simple pieces of equipment, they consisted of four main components, a gas valve, a burner, a thermostat and the heat exchanger and the faults were very rare, but even then fault finding was simple and straightforward. Modern gas appliances are far more complex and I like to think of them as electrical appliances containing a gas burner, more specific knowledge and training and experience is needed to welcome these appliances.

Dean : Plastic plumbing, well, it’s moved on a lot and there’s nothing wrong with plastic plumbing. Again, it’s down to engineer choice, although they do recommend now that when you’re working in confined spaces such as under floor and lofts, that you do use non soldered or non heat related components so plastic push fit is great work in these areas. The days where I remember as an apprentice being shoved under the floor with a butane blowtorch and crowded alone, soldering fittings, those days are gone now.  We can more or less fit a central system with one guy at one end of the room and one guy at the other and threat plastic through and it’s great, it makes perfect economical sense for everybody.

James : Do you think? I mean, not specifically a gas related, but do you think the mass introduction of plastic piping has opened up the doors to reducing, the work level, the work chances for the trade and your finding that more DIY experiences are happening do you think?

Dean : Well you don’t necessarily need to be extremely skilled to be able to extend a central heating system in the home. Say for example you wanted to fit an extra radiator, this equipments available for general sale, providing it’s competently, then there is nothing wrong with that. The downfall comes in where somebody may have drained a central heating system to fit this extra radiator and filled the system back up not put the totally correct amount of inhibitor back in the system, or even drained the system down and left the gas boiler running and it’s over heated, and caused all sorts of issues inside the boiler, you can’t stop somebody from doing that. You hope that they check and take the correct advice.

James : Yeah, just reading the instructions. I mean they’re out guides online and you’ve got youtube that can help you and stuff that I think just with the plastic piping, they have a tendency to pop every now and again, and you know that that is a risk as well, isn’t it?

Dean : It is, although the manufacture will say if installed correctly this can’t happen and these extended lifetime guarantees of our fittings.

Dean : I remember one instance where I bought a packet of the plastic fittings and the stainless steel grab ring was missing so I was fitting onto a piece of pipe tested it and it slid straight off. Now, god forbid a house owner for example, may have got these fittings and  used them in a bathroom installation and then put the mains back on could have caused a great deal of problems, and they may not have been aware as to why thats that’s occurred.

James : Yep. I’m just a couple of questions while I’m thinking about it. A typical boiler problem, someone’s home and their boiler stops working, you know, what is the typical thing, the most common thing that happens, like with pressure, I guess?

Dean : Well, depending on the type of boiler, may flash up a fault code and if you’ve got the manufacturing instructions, it will guide you in the right direction as to what’s happened so there’ll be a specific fault code for lack of pressure, and then you providing the original installation engineers correctly instructed you, re-pressurise the system. So that information’s available, and this should have all have been done on the original installation.

James : What’s the typical price range for a boiler? I’ve seen them around like you can pick up one for maybe £450.00 or you could spend in £1700.00

Dean : You’re absolutely correct there you can, we will generally pick an appliance suitable for the house. If the customer says we want you to choose the boiler, we tend to choose a range that we know may have an extended warranty period up to 10 years. In fact, there is one manufacturer out there that offers a 15 year warranty period, which is basically a lifetime warranty, but then your paying for that.

Dean : The lower end boilers, although they do exactly the same job at parts availability may become difficult and the price of the parts tend to be more expensive and the warranty period is not as long. So you may get a £400.00 boiler as you say, with the two year warranty, but lets say it needs a gas valve in 3 years that maybe twice, sometimes three times the price of a gas valve for a higher end appliance. It’s really is down to personal choice, which we really want to go.

James : So what should someone do if they are looking to hire a gas engineer?

Dean : Well, without a doubt, ask your family member or a friend is thy can recommend someone. This is by far the best method, not only that but the engineered who gets recommended will appreciate being recommended and he’s likely to be more attentive, and courteous in the first place. I’m concerned about the number of website based referral systems where people tap in, “I need a plumber” “I need a gas engineer”, because this is where the rouges may lay in wades.

Dean : Be very careful about using some of those sites. If you’re going to use those website referral systems, use the ones where the engineers pay an annual subscription than they are more likely to be the better ones, which shows a bit more of a commitment.

James :If someone was to hire an engineer from one of those kinds of sites, what it will be a good idea to ask for their registration and then check that out beforehand maybe,

Dean : Without a doubt, ask for the gas safe registered number and check their range of competency skills as well, they may be gas safe  registered but they may only be competent in working on a gas boilers when in fact you want a cooker installing.

James : So we’re always almost towards the end, but could you give our listeners any money saving tips?

Dean : Yeah, of course I can.

Dean : Firstly, if you boiler is over 15 years old it may need replacing that could save you around about £275.00 a year, and that source is from the energy savings trust, not from me, it’s set in stone, that’s what they say. Your appliance maybe only 60% – %70 efficient modern appliances are now the getting up to 93% efficient. It’s great because I still go to a lot of all of old boilers, service them do a few bits and pieces, repair them and that, then I would get an old slow standing cast iron boiler and the customer will say “oh, it’s very efficient” when in actual fact what they really mean, is thats it has been really reliable.

Dean : If you’ve got a modern boiler where you’re not going to really achieve any more efficiency. Thinking about changing the controls, that’s vital to help achieve energy efficiency. Smart technology is also around now and thats optimizing and compensating constantly to the varing conditions of the weather,  sometimes in this country no two days are the same. So we’re still with the timer and the thermostat all the time. Yet, something like the compensation, like which its like an outside thermostat, if the weather is slightly warmer on the two it’ll switch the heating on a bit later or it will cycle the boiler at a lower temperature. So we’re maximizing energy efficiency.

James : It’s a good point that you say about the smart technology. I mean you can now literally tell your home device or you know, your heating to come on an hour before you come home so it doesn’t need to. You can really, really control it now.

Dean : Along side that , the modern smart controllers, they call them optimizing, because to start thinking for themselves and they work out your lifestyle. It’s really crazy. They actually know when you’re going to come home, so you might set it to come on an hour before you come home but it might think, yeah, I’m going to set it  for another hour later because I know when they walk through the door, this temperature in this dwelling is going to be the temperature they want when they come in. It’s crazy stuff.

James : A little bit freaky as well.

Dean :  It’s like big brother’s watching you, I

James : OK so listen, I just have one more final question. it’s been great having you on. So what is your opinion of the property renovation podcast and what we’re trying to do, what do you think about it?

Speaker 2: I just hope it provides good information for the industry and homeowners alike so they can make informed decisions with the projects and tasks however big and small and I certainly look forward to any further questions listeners may have now or in the future. You can email him at any time.

Speaker 1: Great, and if you do want to email Dean you can go thegasmanyorkshire@live.co.uk, I have also extend the invite to come into our facebook group Dean, because thats growing and I’m sure will like to ask you a question or two. So, if you’d like to join that, then you’re more than welcome and saying it’s been great to have you on and I look forward to speaking to you sometime in the future. So thank you very much.

Abi Bacon