According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a flue in poor condition, combined with a boiler that isn’t working properly, may put people at risk of death or serious injury from carbon monoxide poisoning.

In 2010, with the risk of CO poisoning in mind, new gas safety guidance was introduced for gas engineers. It was agreed that for the two years ending 31 December 2012, fitting carbon monoxide alarms in rooms concealing flue passes would be sufficient. But from 1st January 2013, where gas engineers are unable to check the flue physically, they will assess the installation as being “At Risk” and seek the responsible person’s permission to turn off the appliance.

Gas engineers need to be able to check the boiler flues – which contain the gas emitted by the boiler – after undertaking gas work (including annual gas safety checks). In order to check the flue, the gas engineer needs easy access to it. However, it many properties, including flats and apartments, flues are hidden behind walls or ceilings and in some cases, the flue may even be located in another flat. This poses a problem.

To solve this problem, if all or part of the flue cannot be seen, the landlord will need to arrange for inspection hatches to be fitted. Although most of the affected boiler and flue systems are relatively new (installed since 2000), the risk of faults leading to the release of carbon monoxide increases as the system gets older. It is essential that you have your gas appliances serviced annually.

If your property is less than two years old then you should contact your builder. Alternatively, if your property is between two and ten years old then you should contact your home warranty provider, as you may be covered by them if there are defects in the flue. If your property is 10 years or older you should contact a Gas Safe registered engineer.

It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that inspection hatches are installed and that the boiler and flue are checked every year.

Further information including some ‘frequently asked quest