What Do You Need To Know About Home Gas Certificates?
Category Home Owner Tips
When is a Gas Certificate required?
The higher cost of electricity has prompted many South African home-owners to utilize gas installations in their homes. There are however specific regulations homeowners must comply with when installing gas equipment in their homes to ensure their insurance policy remains valid.
According to the regulations that were introduced in 2009, all gas installations must have a Certificate of Compliance (COC) according to the Pressure Equipment Regulations that have been promulgated under the Occupation Health and Safety Act (No 85 of 1993) - effectively stating that the installation has been properly inspected and is determined to be safe and leak free.
According to the regulation, any home-owner who has a liquid gas installation installed in their home must have a Gas Certificate of Conformity issued by an authorized person who is registered with the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa (LPGAS). The onus is on the homeowners to ensure that they have this certificate in their possession - not the installer. In the absence of a valid gas certificate, the insurance company would be well within their rights to repudiate a claim if a defective gas appliance caused a homeowner property damage.
It is also important for homeowners to know that if they wish to sell their home and they have a gas appliance installed, they are required to obtain a gas certificate and deliver a copy thereof to the new purchaser. The types of gas installations that require this certificate include gas fires or braais, gas stoves and ovens, as well as hot water systems. It is vital for all home-owners to realize that such an inspection is not just essential for their insurance policy to remain valid, but even more importantly, that it is conducted to ensure that the installation is safe and their family is not put at risk. If a gas appliance has been incorrectly installed and results in a gas leak this could have major health implications for a family, not to mention the huge danger involved of an explosion.
What does a Gas Compliance Certificate Cost?
As is the case with the other COC Certificates, the overall cost of a Gas Compliance Certificate cannot be determined until the Gas Inspection has been performed.
The gas inspector can however tell you upfront what the Gas Inspection will cost – i.e. what their inspection fees is.
Once they have performed the Gas Inspection, they will know if any remedial work is required. If your gas installation is compliant and NO further rectifications are required, a new gas certificate should be issued to you at no additional charge over and above the initial gas inspection fee.
However, should remedial work be required to make your gas installation compliant, the homeowner should request for a detailed report on the work required and a quote of cost thereof.
What is checked during a Gas Inspection?
As with all the different Compliance Certificates there are certain items that must be, or made, compliant before the Compliance Certificate can be issued. While we cannot list the entire regulation book here, for lack of space, we can list some of the more pertinent items.
Gas is a potentially explosive substance so it makes sense that performing a leak test to ensure the gas installation is leak free is the number one priority. It is important to ensure that SABS approved equipment is used, the correct valves are used and that equipment is not placed in illegal positions, as per the below examples.
Windows – gas bottles must be at least 1m from any window and door.
Gully - gas bottles must be at least 2m from any gully.
Tap – if tap does not have a gully under it, the gas bottle can be right next to the tap.
Power point - gas bottles must be at least 5m from a power point.
Size of gas bottles outside – 2 x 48kg max
Size of gas bottle inside – 9 kg max, and if in a cupboard, it must have adequate ventilation.
Gas bottle next to braai or fire place is allowed if installed correctly.
No gas bottles permitted in a garage.
No switch socket outlets allowed under a gas hop or in the same compartment.
Gas bottle must be more than 1 meter sideways from doors and windows.
Gas bottle may not be less than 2 meters from drains and air vents.
Gas bottle may not be less than 3 meters below windows (unless a non-combustible roof is installed).
Gas bottle must be more than 1 meter from the property boundary wall (unless it is a fire wall).
Light bulbs cannot be less than 1.5 meters above a gas bottle.
Other gas installation rules:
• Only class 1 or 2 copper pipes, or other approved gas piping, may be used (Note: This is not the same copper piping as used by plumbers).
• Copper pipes going through a wall must be sleeved.
• Approved flexible gas hose may not be more than two meters long and may not go through any partition (including wood, dry wall, cupboard wall etc).
This is NOT an exhaustive list.
LPGAS provides the following useful tips regarding gas safety:
• Always use a registered gas installer.
• Always use a qualified gas dealer.
• Always use a verified and tested gas product.
• Always check the seal on a gas cylinder matches the brand of the cylinder.
• Always check gas appliances before use.
What is NOT covered by the Gas Certificate?
As with all the Compliance Certificates there are limits as to what the inspector and the seller are responsible for in order for a Compliance Certificate to be issued.
The inspector is limited to whatever regulations are in place at the time of the inspection. It is important to note that there is a big difference in issuing a Compliance Certificate and "servicing, upgrading or restoring" a Gas Installation. (Similar to roadworthy versus servicing or restoring a car.)
The primary concern of the Gas Compliance Certificate is SAFETY and the inspector report is not concerned with non-compliance issues such as:
- Portable, temporary gas appliances, such as portable BBQ's, Patio Heaters, internal heaters are not covered. These items are normally not included in the sale of the property and will be removed from the premises by the seller.
- replacing gas cylinders simply because they do not look brand new.
- re-filling empty gas bottles.
- relocating gas bottles to an aesthetically more pleasing position, if where they are situated is a legal position, the inspector will leave them there.
- do not install larger gas bottles – the inspector may remove or install smaller bottles if the maximum permissible volume is exceeded.
The inspection is limited to the gas installation only and the gas certificate does not cover the actual gas appliances, stove, heater, braai, hop, geyser etc.
The legal requirements of the Gas Certificate.
Pressure Equipment Regulations were also promulgated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (effective October 2009), which brought gas appliances installed in properties more or less in line with electrical installations.
Gas appliances installed in properties need a gas compliance certificate. Gas installations for which certificates are required include built-in gas fires or braai’s, gas stoves, hot water systems and the like.
From 1st October 2009, it is required that any person installing a liquid gas appliance at a property must have a Certificate of Conformity issued in respect thereof. The certificate may only be issued by an authorized person registered as such with the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa (LPGAS), after he has inspected the installation and is satisfied that it is safe, and leak free. Gas installations for which certificates of conformity are required would include built-in gas fires or braai’s, gas stoves, hot water systems and the like. Furthermore, in terms of Regulation 17(3) of the Pressure Equipment Regulations, the law speaks of a certificate being required after any installation, alteration, modification or change of ownership of property which necessarily implies that a certificate would need to be in place or issued upon the transfer of a property. The parties cannot contract out of it – it is required in respect of all properties where there is a gas installation, whether the owner lives there, rents out the property or whether it is vacant or stands empty for most of the year.
Validity of the Gas Certificate.
Regulation 17(3) of the Pressure Equipment Regulations promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 became effective on 1 October 2009 and makes it compulsory for a gas compliance certificate to be obtained in the event that a property is sold.
It should be noted that it matters not that the installation of the gas appliance predates 1 October 2009 and the certificate is required despite this fact.
Unlike in the case of the Electrical Compliance Certificate, there is no similar regulation regarding the length of the period of validity of a gas compliance certificate. It is, therefore, recommended that such a certificate is acquired on the sale of the property regardless of how old the existing one may be.
What is the procedure in obtaining a Gas Certificate?
Selling your home? If you have Gas appliances installed in your home then you will probably require a Gas Certificate.
You, your Estate Agent, or even your Transferring Attorney can submit the request for a Gas Inspection.
It is recommended you have your gas installations checked by a registered gas installer on an annual basis.
Author: The Techno Group