Venting Air

Posted on 8 June 2007 in House (No comments)

About a year ago we had our gas heating serviced. As we had the year before. And as we have since. It's a twenty odd year old system and I was keen when we moved in to make absolutely sure that it was always in good working order, and that we weren't suddenly about to die of carbon monoxide poisoning or anything.

Anyway on this occasion, the bloke came, huffed and puffed a bit and muttered something about inadequate ventilation. Some new rule that had come in that would mean we'd need a vent, and that our lives were at risk. Or something. I don't actually know cos I was at work.

So he gave us a quote on getting some extra ventilation, I put it somewhere and promptly forgot about it. I found it about nine months later, and as the quote was out of date I decided I'd leave it until the next annual service.

At that point we started having problems with it breaking down several times, and several engineers came, looked at the past history on their computer and said we really, really needed to get it sorted out, and I nodded and sagely said I would.

Finally the annual service turned up and the engineer this time said the same thing - inadequate ventilation, we'd need to get it sorted out cos this time next year the rules change and if it hadn't been done they'd be legally obliged to disable to system completely. Or something. But he couldn't give us a quote, so someone else would need to come out. Oh and we'd have to sign a disclaimer if he was to leave it switched on.

Spurred in to action by the thought of British Gas engineers frantically removing bits of equipment so we couldn't use it, I arranged for someone to come and give us a quote which happened bright and early this morning.

Well I say it happened because actually it didn't. The bloke came round and was a bit confused as to why the problem had been highlighted. Within five seconds he'd deduced that there was a pipe going up to the loft, so went up there to confirm his suspicions - that there was a vent in the loft and enough ventilation to stop us dying in our sleep.

One quick calculation on the computer later and it was confirmed. Every thing's fine - which they'd have spotted if they'd gone in the loft.

Apparently it's a regular problem round here - for some reason lots of service engineers get confused by the house layout and decide that some extra ventilation is needed. He told me of one woman nearby who'd had all the vents put in, only for someone to come back and be told that there still wasn't enough ventilation. At that point he'd turned up, took one look at the loft, done his calculations and said that she hadn't even needed the original vents. If the original engineers had just checked properly, she could have saved some money and stress.

I have to confess I found it slightly odd that an entire housing estate built in the 1980s could be built so badly that a hundred or so houses would all need this extra ventilation. As far as I know, no one in the area has died due to dodgy heating in 23 years. And I'm rather annoyed that I've had to arrange to work from home again to sort out a problem that doesn't exist...

Thankfully the news is now logged on British Gas's computer. Hopefully this will never happen again. But very disappointing that it took so much effort to get a simple answer...

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