Does re-roofing require combi boiler isolation??

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by David Eales, Jul 10, 2019.

  1. David Eales

    David Eales New Member

    Hi All,

    Looking for some opinions/facts please. Our adjoining neighbours property is owned by the local authority who are currently carrying out a series of renovations to there housing stock. Part of these works involve the stripping of the roof and fitting of new tiles.

    We have a combi boiler which is fitted to the party wall and the flue is vertical up through the loft space and out onto our roof.

    The councils roofing contractor is insisting that in order to carry out the re-roofing of my neighbours property they need to isolate my boiler each morning for 3 days and then recommission each evening.

    Not only is it massively inconvenient due to having 2 young children to try and shove out the door in the morning but I don't want a gas engineer to decommission and recommission my boiler over a period of 3 days! My boiler works fine, receives it's annual inspection and service and I am very much of the view that if it ain't broke then don't touch it!! especially when the works have nothing to do with us (our property is privately owned)

    So in summary, my question is... is this a legal requirement when carrying out works in the vicinity of a flue? They are claiming it is when working within a radius of 1.5m of a flue. I have offered to switch off my boiler at it's control panel when the last adult leaves the house in the morning and proposed that they can use a gas alarm to monitor the flue but apparently that is unacceptable to them as they are also concerned about debris getting into the flue. My view is that this can be mitigated by placing a net (with sufficient sized holes) over the flue during the works and generally just taking care and not going at it like a bull in a china shop :)

    Grateful for any thoughts/opinions.
  2. Beeero

    Beeero Active Member

    No way I’d be complying with that either... I work for a major housing association and have never heard of anything like this surly it’s up to them to figure out a work around if you turning it off isn’t acceptable
  3. jonathanc

    jonathanc Active Member

    so I think they are asking for the boiler not to be used from a health and safety perspective. If you own the free hold to your property then there is no way they can force you to turn your boiler off - its their problem. Equally it is their responsibility to ensure their works do not damage your property in any way. if you are a leasholder from the council then their powers will be in the lease

    so if you do own the freehold - tell them to go away and you'll hold them liable for any damage to your boiler. If you are leasholder from council then comply with the terms of the lease
  4. Mike83

    Mike83 Well-Known Member

    I think it’s actually a good idea for it to be turned off and covered whilst work is carried out.
    If anything dropped in the flue it wouldn’t always be picked up by testing and a visual check.if the flue was covered obviously it would prevent this.
    However, chances of debris getting in a vertical flue are quite slim.

    I’ve seen similar scenarios were flues are covered in the vicinity of scaffolding during the working day.

    If you refuse and the contractor then thinks there’s an issue the gas supply could be turned off by the supplier.
  5. jonathanc

    jonathanc Active Member

    no. if a contractor working on a neighbouring property endangers themselves its their look out. they have no right of access to your property - end of. In particular there is no WAY a roofing contractor can form a view on the safety of gas equipment unless they are gas safe registered - are they.

    the answer is the contractor working on the neighbour's roof needs to properly shield your flue - they cannot be bothered. get them to cover/shield it properly
  6. David Eales

    David Eales New Member

    Whilst I can see the merit in isolating our boiler for a belt and braces approach, I could also see the advantage in placing inflatable crash mats around the property just in case someone falls off the roof or having an air ambulance on standby just in case.

    I strongly suspect this is a case of the councils principal contractor offering a snatch your hand off price for the works, and then loading it up with ridiculous H&S requirements to bump the price up. They will obviously Be adding their overhead and profit onto what ever the gas engineer is looking to charge.

    To confirm... my property is 100% privately owned. It is our adjoining neighbours which is owned by the local authority.
  7. jonathanc

    jonathanc Active Member

    so the simple answer is to tell them to go away, and if they damage your roof and property including the boiler then you will hold the contractor and the council liable for all costs. they have no right of access to your property and cannot force you to do anything..
  8. Mike83

    Mike83 Well-Known Member

    If the contractor damages the flue and no one is in the house at the time, then if the contractor is planning on leaving site the gas transporter would need notified.
    They would most likely come out and isolate the gas supply for obvious reasons.
    It does sound like the roofers have access to a gas safe engineer so it will be him making any decision.
    If you cover the flue to protect it the boiler would still need to be isolated incase they forget to remove the covering.

    I don’t think the contractor is being unreasonable in their request. They seem to be taking full responsibility for the gas side of things.
    It’s a far better approach than what others would do.

    I came across a dangerous install a while back. It was immediately dangerous and the customer refused for it to be disconnected. I called the gas transporter who arrived within 45 minutes and then isolated the gas supply external to the property.
  9. David Eales

    David Eales New Member

    It's a different situation, you identified a dangerous situation with an existing installation. My installation is fine and is not dangerous, the only time it could potentially become dangerous would be through the incompetence of the contractors working on the neighbours roof.

    Out of sheer interest how does the gas transporter isoloate the gas supply external to the property? As far as I am aware there are no individual gas values exterior to my property unless they are underneath a manhole in the street somewhere?
  10. Mike83

    Mike83 Well-Known Member

    I agree.
    But by isolating the boiler then testing it on reinstatement this ensures the boiler remains safe.
    I can’t really comment on other people’s working practices.
    Your boiler flue is probably really close to the boundary (should be 300mm or more) as it’s on the party wall. This makes their work a bit more difficult.

    On more modern installations the gas can be isolated at the outside meter or at the point of entry to the building.

    Depending how close the flue actually is to where the work is being carried out will determine what action they deem necessary.
    They probably have a risk assessment in place.
  11. The Teach

    The Teach Well-Known Member

    The local authority contractor would have to carry out a risk assessment,the gas flue terminal is adjacent to the contractors working area. The risk assessment surveyor would be minded to consider products of combustion and heat from the terminal.

    If a tin hat or shrink wrap temporary roof with side protection is used to protect your neighbours property,this will extend over the party wall and maybe your boiler flue terminal.

    At least the work is being done in the summer :) Reasonable out of pocket expenses can be claimed before the works commences ;)
  12. David Eales

    David Eales New Member

    The problem mainly for us is the inconvenience of it all. They are telling me that it is a 2 minute job in the morning and evening. I am not a gas engineer, but I presume any gas safe engineer must work to a set decommissioning and recommissioning procedure which I am pretty sure takes longer than 2 minutes. They want to come and do the isolation work at 8am and recommission at 5pm each day, again totally inconvenient for a working family. We have an autistic child and it is stressful enough getting her out of the door to school in the morning as is without having to worry about what time the engineer is going to show up. The same in the evening, the first thing I want to do when I come home is jump in the shower, I won't be able to do that until the engineer has visited and recommissioned the system each day. There simply is no window of opportunity between us using our own boiler in our own house and us leaving for work/school, I am sure we are not a unique family in that sense!

    We have already made significant allowances to the councils contractor, they have erected a scaffold structure which crosses onto our boundary which puts the Eiffel tower to shame, we have allowed them to place heavy planks and scaffolding onto our side of the roof (they wanted a full safety rail from gutter to apex.) FYI... Our house is a bog standard 3 bed semi.

    Also the 3 days they have specified is largely dependent on weather, if they come and isolate my boiler and then it starts raining then that will obviously delay things and then I will need to accommodate even more visits!

    I have written to the council and its contractor asking for proof that all other available options which don't involve inconveniencing us have been considered in full. As far as I am concerned if that means the council paying for a gas safe engineer to keep watch on our flue all day then so be it.
  13. Mike83

    Mike83 Well-Known Member

    The decommissioning part in reality won’t take that long.
    Turning it back on is a bit more work. Far longer than a couple of minutes.
    Not sure what compromise the council can come to.
    Would it not be possible to do all the work at your side in a shorter timeframe?

    The council only wants to cover themselves legally and probably hoped you weren’t bothered about being inconvenienced.
  14. David Eales

    David Eales New Member

    I suggested to them that I could turn it off at the control panel each morning before leaving for work. And in case they do not trust my word then they can use a gas sensor alarm. Though I am not sure if the concern with respect of toxic gasses is valid anyway, the flue vents into open air its a modern combi boiler, not something from the titanic. Even if it was faulty and pumping out carbon monoxide I fail to see how it would pose any danger outside. I don't see how it could possibly get debris in it either. I cant really see from ground level but it looks like it has a bog standard flue top to it like every other flue. If they are concerned about dust and small particles then I dont see why it cannot be covered over with a debris netting, again coupled with a gas alarm.
  15. jonathanc

    jonathanc Active Member

    at the end of the day it is your house and they cannot force you to do anything. there is no need to compromise. simply explain to the council that their workmen have no right of access and are not to move or damage anything on your property.

    in short as it is inconvenient to you tell them to go away.
  16. Itchy sponner

    Itchy sponner New Member

    You have 2 issues.

    1 the safety of the workers

    They should be able to perform the job without breathing in fumes from your boiler.

    2 dust created may effect your appliance if running while work is being done.

    When the boiler draws combustion air into the flue while they are making alot of dust it may effect the boilers performance.

    You should not expect them to work with the risk of your boiler running. Proper procedure will be isolation of gas to appliance and recommission. This will be what the HSE and gas Safe will expect them to do.

    You should compromise with them, allow them to isolate and recommission at the time that suits you.

    We all have a right to work safely after all.
  17. David Eales

    David Eales New Member

    I have offered to turn the boiler off at its control panel each morning and they can monitor the flue with a gas alarm. I fail to see why this is not an appropriate compromise.

    In reality there is no good time for the work to be carried out. In the morning the bathroom is in use until just prior to heading out the door to school and work. And when we get home we simply don’t want to be having to wait for an engineer to attend to hopefully get working hot water again.

    I agree that everyone has the right to work safely, but that does not override my rights to not have our family life unduly disrupted.
  18. jonathanc

    jonathanc Active Member

    completely agree David. it is for the contractors and the agency employing them to ensure they have a safe working environment. if it is not safe, don't do the job! This is about work being carried out on another property not yours and they have no legal right to enter or do anything to your property. If they damage your boiler then they are responsible and they need to put it right...

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