Lives are being put at risk by cowboy technicians failing to carry out basic safety checks when servicing boilers.
Shoddy workmanship is leaving households with potentially dangerous heating systems in the run-up to winter.
An investigation by consumer group Which? found that eight out of the ten gas technicians they secretly filmed failed to meet the minimum legal requirements for a boiler service with two technicians not even taking the case off the boiler to inspect it.
The report focused on gas technicians but all types of boiler, if not properly serviced, can cause carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning which kills an average of 40 people and hospitalises a further 200 every year. Households who use unqualified technicians are most likely to be at risk.
In response, OFTEC, the UK trade body for oil heating, is urging homeowners to be more vigilant about employing unqualified technicians and to check a technician is fully competent before they start work.
All competent technicians will have an identity card showing the areas of work they are trained to do. Consumers should report rogue tradesman to their local trading standards office and, if they suspect their heating systems could be dangerous, they should turn it off and get it checked immediately.
Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, said: “The months leading up to winter are typically the busiest time for technicians servicing boilers.
“Unfortunately, there could be unqualified rogue tradesmen in Derbyshire who put people at risk by cutting corners and failing to perform the necessary safety checks.
“We strongly urge homeowners to use a competent person such as an OFTEC registered technician for oil boilers or a Gas Safe registered technician for gas boilers.”
You can find a local registered technician near you at www.oilsave.org.uk or www.gassaferegister.co.uk.