The importance of being Gas Safe registered 

In 2009, the Gas Safe Register replaced Corgi as the mark of approval for all plumbers and heating engineers who work with gas appliances. Now, in order to work with gas appliances and installations in the UK, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, you must be on the Gas Safety Register – if you’re not, you may face prosecution.  

However, there are additional benefits to being Gas Safe registered, and in this blog post we’ll take a look at them. 

What’s the purpose of the Gas Safe Register? 

The Gas Safety Register was introduced to protect the public from rogue gas engineers and plumbers, because millions of lives are put at risk by faulty gas work every year and illegal work costs millions of pounds annually to fix. Gas Safe makes sure that everyone on its register is competent to carry out the type(s) of gas work they’re registered for, and their registration is updated every year. If a Gas Safe-registered contractor breaches the terms of their registration, Gas Safe can investigate them and may revoke their registration.  

This gives members of the public a lot of reassurance, because they know they can check with an independent organisation and make sure that their gas contractor is qualified and legitimate. Customers can quickly and easily check an engineer’s registration with Gas Safe, and many use the Gas Safe website as a first port of call when looking for a heating engineer or plumber to work with gas. 

What is more, Gas Safe has the power to investigate anyone, either registered or unregistered, who is suspected of working with gas illegally. 

How does being on the Gas Safe Register help my business? 

Perhaps the most obvious benefit to being Gas Safe registered is the seal of approval from a recognised authority. If you’re registered you can use the Gas Safe mark on your vehicle, clothing, adverts and paperwork, and your contact details will be on the Gas Safe website that so many people use to find suppliers.  

There are also practical benefits. Gas Safe is a network of gas experts and registration gives you immediate access to a host of resources and expertise. These include the latest technical bulletins, industry standard updates and safety alerts. When you are registered, Gas Safe will provide contact details for your local Gas Safe inspector, whom you can contact for advice – they’ll even send you a monthly magazine! 

Sounds great! How do I sign up?  

There are several routes to registration: you find all the details on the Gas Safe website (click here to view it).  

What to do – and what not to do – with your Flue Gas Analyser/Combustion Analyzer

A durable, accurate and versatile flue gas analyser/combustion analyzer is a wonderful thing. For many heating and gas engineers, it’s tough to get a day’s work done without one. That’s why it makes sense to treat your analyser well – and in this blog post we’ll be giving you some tips on how to do just that. 

How to keep your analyser happy 

  • The most important rule of all is this: get your flue gas analyser/gas combustion analyzer calibrated every year, on time, without fail. No excuses! 
  • If you can, book your analyser in for service or recalibration at the time you need it least (for example, if you are going on holiday or planning some time off). 
  • Keep an eye on your machine’s condensate trap and remove any water promptly, and always before you put it back into your bag. 
  • Make sure the flue probe is connected to the analyser before turning the analyser on (to purge the probe and instrument) and until the instrument has switched off (so that the probe is purged as the machine shuts down). 
  • When you take a sample from the flue, make sure the tip of the probe is in the centre of the flue. This puts the thermocouple in the hottest part, which provides the most accurate temperature reading and efficiency calculation. When you have taken your readings, put the flue inspection cap back on. 
  • Don’t put your probe in the flue and then switch the boiler on – this runs the risk of excess CO ruining reducing the lifespan of your sensor. 
  • When finishing a job, wait for the device to switch off, then remove the probe and then put the analyser in the bag. NEVER put the analyser in the bag whilst the instrument is shutting down or purging, because if you do, debris from the bag may be sucked into the instrument and cause damage. 
  • It’s dangerous to leave your analyser in a vehicle overnight. Not only could it be stolen, but overnight temperature fluctuations can lead to a build-up of condensation inside the device, which may cause it to malfunction. 
  • Only initiate start-up and purge in clean, fresh air (i.e., not in a room with the appliance already running).  
  • Take care of your flue probe; if it’s not completely air tight it may draw in ambient air and give inaccurate readings. Top tip: if you cover the end of the probe that usually attaches to the analyser and then blow through the other end, you should not be able to blow right through the probe. If you can, it’s leaking. 
  • When you have used the flue probe, let any condensate drain out.  
  • Check filters regularly and discard any that get dirty or damaged. Always carry spares.
  • Keep the display screen and buttons clean, for ease of visibility and use. 

Cared-for analysers live longer 

While there are quite a few rules for analyser care, most of them become second nature over time and are well worth sticking with. A decent flue gas analyser/combustion analyzer is an important investment, but with a little care and attention, that investment will last you for many years. 

To find out more information about flue gas analysers/combustion analyzers visit our solution page.

Our partnership with Heating Engineer Supplier (HES) 

Background  

Founded in 2012 (11 years as a limited company) and based in County Limerick in Ireland, Heating Engineer Supplies (HES) are one of the main suppliers of Anton and Crowcon in Ireland, supplying Cork, Dublin, Galway, Waterford and throughout Ireland. HES provide an extensive range including; flow and pressure, flue gas analysers, gas detectors and oil accessories.  

Views on HVAC 

Providing workers within the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) sectors with the correct equipment is vital, therefore providing these workers with an integral tool is crucial. SprintPro is a tool that is used every day by HVAC; therefore, Anton by Crowcon flue gas analysers provides a five-gas analysis through an easy-to-use tool. Sprint Pro is manufactured in the UK to exacting standards, stay on the job longer with a reliable device you can trust. Multi-function and easy-to-use, it is designed to last with troubleshooting built in and triple filter water trap system for total hydrophobic protection. 

Providing gas detection equipment that is lifesaving allows HES’ customers to have a full solution option best suited to their needs and requirements. HES work by providing their customers with the knowledge, expertise and advise in order to keep them safe when using gas detection products, whilst highlighting and focusing on the awareness of why this type of equipment is required in a variety of industries. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that is also highly toxic and potentially flammable (at higher levels: 10.9% Volume or 109,000ppm). It is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as wood, oil, coal, paraffin, LPG, petrol and natural gas. CO is present in several different industries, such as steel works, manufacturing, electricity supply, coal and metal mining, food manufacturing, oil and gas, production of chemicals and petroleum refining to name a few. The Clip SGD  is a CO personal monitor that can sense what you can’t, giving you time to react and ultimately can save you and your customers lives. 

Working with Anton by Crowcon 

A 12-year partnership through continued communication and support has allowed Heating Engineer Supplies to supply their customers with both flue gas analysers and gas detection solutions. HES is an official service centre for Anton by Crowcon located in house at their base in county Limerick, with the possibility of portable calibration coming soon. “Over many years we have built up an excellent relationship with Anton by Crowcon. It’s fantastic to know we have brilliant Technical support and we know moving forward with Fixed & Portable gas detection this will continue, we look forward to growing our respective businesses.” Although previously our partnership has predominately been focused on both flue gas analysers and portable gas detection solutions, HES are expanding their offering to cover sales and calibration of our portable gas detection equipment with future hopes being focussed on our fixed product range.  

Our Partnership with Preferred Sales

Background

Founded in 1962, Preferred Sales Inc. (PSI) is a standout manufacturers’ representative in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania specializing in the plumbing, HVAC, and hydronics industries. Based in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, Preferred Sales’ trading territory encompasses all of Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Over six decades, PSI has evolved into a multi-faceted manufacturers’ representative agency built on consultative selling, technical training, product troubleshooting and installation guidance to provide “any contractor any solution.”

Views on HVAC

Many equipment manufacturers in the US are now urging contactors to use a combustion analyzer when installing and maintaining their latest generation of high efficiency products. Preferred Sales pride themselves in providing training and product knowledge to their customers. Through the distribution of knowledge, expertise, and technique, PSI is able to provide confidence in the solutions for their end customers.

Working with Crowcon

Preferred Sales are a new partnership to Crowcon. This partnership will work hand in hand with PSI’s current customer base already present from over 60 years of trading. Preferred Sales now hold stock for our combustion analyzers in their Hermitage, PA warehouse. This combustion analyzer (the Sprint Pro) stops you from having to store, charge, carry, calibrate, and transport multiple devices. Our device allows you to conduct all critical test measurements with just one high performance, innovative solution. “We are excited to add Crowcon to the other valuable partners on our line card. We feel this partnership continues to enhance the growing list of business and jobsite solutions we provide to our wholesale customers and contractors across the territory.” – Matt Guidish, Director of Marketing at Preferred Sales.

Did you know about the Sprint Pro Tightness Tester?

Pressure testing is all in a day’s work for many gas engineers, but the right equipment can make all the difference.  

Did you know that you can use the Sprint Pro flue gas analyser to carry out tightness testing, with no need for additional U gauges or other bulky equipment? In this post we’ll explore how and why you can tightness test with the Sprint Pro. 

What is tightness testing? 

Tightness testing is a type of pressure test, applied to a gas supply system at the meter. Other forms of pressure testing include the let-by test (which checks for leaks in the emergency control valve [ECV]), temperature stabilisation test, standing pressure at the meter test (a measurement of the gas when it’s stationary), and working/operating pressure at the meter test (which assesses the flow and pressure of gas when appliances are being used). 

Tightness testing measures the pressure in gas pipes, in order to find evidence of leaks. A tightness test is generally carried out after a let-by test and temperature stabilisation test. The tightness test is sometimes followed by a purge and then a standing pressure test, followed by a working/operating pressure at the meter test. This allows the engineer to make a full assessment of the system.  

Using the Sprint Pro to conduct a tightness test 

All Sprint Pro models except the Sprint Pro 1 can be used to tightness test. To begin, go into the pressure menu and select let-by/tightness. You will need to attach the pipe and matching pressure relief valve to the Sprint Pro’s positive pressure inlet – the valve makes setting the desired pressure, and adjusting it if required, very easy.  

As you scroll through the Sprint Pro’s pressure menu, you’ll find that tightness testing follows let-by testing and temperature stabilisation. Full instructions for tightness testing are given in the Sprint Pro manual (click here for a PDF version).  

It is very important to note that the parameters for tightness testing, and any increases/drops in pressure that are permitted, depend on many variables, such as the age and size of the pipework, whether appliances are attached and several others. Ultimately, you as the engineer must decide whether to pass or fail the tightness test when the analyser displays the results. 

Once the test is completed, you can either print the results immediately (although this erases them from the system) or save them to the log (and they can always be printed from there). Alternatively, if you have the Sprint Mobile/Crowcon HVAC Companion app, you can Bluetooth directly to your tablet or smartphone. 

Why use a Sprint Pro for tightness testing? 

Using a Sprint Pro for pressure testing means less to carry around (no bulky water gauges, for example) and the clarity of results displayed digitally. The Sprint Pro also creates an audit trail in the form of digital logs, which can provide great peace of mind in case of any dispute or query.

Our Partnership with Pass Ltd 

Background  

Founded in early 2001 and based in Stockton-On-Tees, PASS Ltd is a leading supplier of test equipment, training, and calibration. Built on delivering an exceptional customer experience, they have grown to offer one of the most comprehensive catalogues of test and measurement, thermal imaging, and industrial safety products, as well as a broad calibration scope. In 2014, their calibration and repair laboratories gained UKAS accreditation. PASS Ltd pride themselves on offering a fast, affordable service; therefore, they have developed an online asset management portal for larger businesses to provide 24/7 access to asset details and service tracking. Additionally, as an accredited training provider specialising in low and high voltage courses, PASS Ltd offers an ever-expanding range of classes including City & Guilds and MCA accredited programmes.   

Views on HVAC 

PASS Ltd understand that confined spaces can be extremely dangerous and this is what makes these areas such a cause for global concern. They acknowledge that not all confined spaces are fully enclosed but point out that these locations may still pose a significant risk due to hazardous substances or conditions within or nearby the space, for example, a lack of oxygen. It is therefore critical to provide education and training on dangerous gases and environments to those working in the HVAC industry.    

Working with Crowcon  

PASS Ltd have been a long-term partner of Crowcon. For over seven years our partnership has enabled new areas of growth within the HVAC and portables industries. PASS Ltd attest that “our partnership has allowed us to supply a range of gas detection products and services that are reliable and diverse, improving the safety of our customers working within the Gas, HVAC, and Plumbing sectors. Crowcon’s quality and values align well with PASS’ ethos; they are the perfect partner to support our mission of raising end-users’ and businesses’ awareness of gas exposure.” 

Where do Flue Gas Analysers Fit into the UK Government’s Decarbonisation Plans?

When the UK government announced, in March 2021, that £1 billion of already-allocated funds would be redirected to projects designed to reduce greenhouse gases, the energy sector sat up and listened. And with good reason – as it turned out, £171 million will be allocated to an industrial decarbonisation plan that focuses on hydrogen gas generation and carbon capture and storage technologies.  

However, the news extended beyond green energy production and is relevant to domestic and industrial HVAC applications. In a gesture that reflects the role HVAC engineers and manufacturers can play in sustainability, more than £900 million will be spent upgrading public buildings, like schools and hospitals, with greener fittings such as heat pumps, solar panels and insulation, which will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

But where does this leave the individual households and business units that many HVAC staff visit daily? That is a question that several commentators have asked, and it seems that – for now at least – the main drive to reduce the environmental impact of privately-owned heating and plumbing systems will continue to come from the manufacturers, engineers and installers working in the HVAC sector. 

And that’s quite a responsibility. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2020, there were approximately 27.8 million households in the UK; government statistics from 2019 indicate that around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK (specifically of carbon dioxide, along with methane, F gases and nitrous oxide) came from those residential settings. That’s a lot of excess CO2 to clean up. 

So, what can HVAC people do to help decarbonisation? 

If they have decent equipment, heating engineers and plumbers can help to reduce that figure by 15%. For example, they are well placed to measure CO2 and other greenhouse gases: while most flue gas analysers will measure CO2, some can also measure NO/NOx (for example, the Sprint Pro 5 and Sprint Pro 6) well.  

A flue gas analyser that gives a wide range of easy-to-read and interprets measurements allows engineers to see when appliances are not working correctly and whether an upgrade (for example, to a government-subsidised heat pump) might be in order. 

This is a pressing need: many households hang onto appliances for as long as possible, even though older appliances tend to be much less environmentally friendly than their modern counterparts. This is bad enough for the environment, but using a malfunctioning older appliance is the worst of all possible outcomes. 

A good flue gas analyser will provide the readings required to convince many customers to decarbonise their homes or businesses more effectively. It will also allow the engineer to fix many problems in more modern and efficient appliances, bringing them back to their original operating standards and protecting the planet once more. 

Helping to reach net zero 

In late 2021, the UK government set out its plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and every heating engineer in the country has a part to play in that project. While checking flue gases may be an everyday event for many HVAC engineers, the fact remains that household and business emissions account for a substantial proportion of CO2 output and emissions of other dangerous gases. While persuading a single household to operate with lower carbon emissions may not seem like a big deal, the impact can be very substantial when this is scaled up across the country. 

The importance of annual calibration for your flue gas analyser/combustion analyzer 

For many heating engineers, the flue gas analyser/combustion analyzer is vital kit; so much so, that most would have problems working without one. However, calibration and servicing generally require the engineer to send the analyser away for a while. That’s why, when the annual calibration date comes around again, some find themselves tempted to put it off, just for a while … 

Please ignore that temptation. It is absolutely vital to get your flue gas analyser calibrated every year, and failing to do so could cost you your job – or worse. Prompt annual calibration is simply not negotiable, and in this blog post we’ll explore the reasons why. 

Annual certification required 

A flue gas analyser is safety equipment and its accuracy may be – quite literally – a matter of life or death. The  sensors inside flue gas analysers react with the gasses they detect and degrade slightly over time. Compiled over the course of a years active use, the degradation can lead to inaccuracies in the readingsAdditionally, like any equipment, things can go wrong and parts can fail; that’s why all flue gas analyser manufacturers require an annual certificate of calibration, and the impact of not having one can be legally, financially and personally disastrous. 

Imagine, for example, that an accident has occurred and somebody or something has been harmed because your flue gas analyser failed to detect an issue. If that analyser was uncertified and had not been calibrated within the time period required (which would be easy to ascertain, since gas reports have the relevant times and dates printed on them), then you and/or your employer may be held criminally and civilly liable for this, having failed to exercise your duty of care to your client.  

That’s why, if your combustion analyzer is showing any signs of failure, or if your annual calibration is due, you need to book it in promptly. 

What about costs? 

Sometimes, engineers are tempted to put off calibration for fear of the costs. And yes, there may be charges involved due to damage or wear and tear: but what price do you put on safety (both the safety of the people you serve the security of your own job or business?) If cost is an issue, there may be ways to mitigate this. Manufacturers know that calibration is a recurring cost and some offer pre-pay options to make this easier to manage; some offer pre-pay options for parts as well. If you’re not sure whether this is the case for your device, it is worth talking to the manufacturer because the savings can be substantial. 

What happens during calibration? 

During its annual service and calibration, your flue gas analyser will be checked over and any components (for example, an oxygen sensor) will be replaced as required. A known concentration of certified test gas will be passed into the analyser and the instruments software will be adjusted to make sure it takes into account any drop off in sensor response and to ensure the analyser responds appropriately to all gases across the range of detection.  

Don’t wait – calibrate 

As you can see, calibration and any associated changes are vital to the functioning of your analyser, so you should never postpone or overlook your annual calibration: in fact, you must not use a flue gas analyser at all, once the previous calibration has expired. This applies however often (or not) you use it: the risks are the same.  

To find out more, visit our dedicated HVAC page.

Reset & Recalibrate – A Guide to FGA Calibration

Ensuring your flue gas analyser (FGA) is regularly maintained goes without saying, however the hows and whys take a little more digging into. This article breaks down the calibration process and highlights handy tips and tricks for maintenance and best practice. 

The Act of Calibration 

Calibrating an FGA involves checking the sensors to ensure accurate measurement of a known concentration of certified calibration gas. To do this, the reading needs to be adjusted to match the gas concentration through an initial sensor calibration of the new or existing unit.

Next up is a calibration drift – this is done using existing instruments to bring the reading back after the drift occurs. Measuring the amount of drift in the gauge is a chance to see how far into inaccurate territory it has moved, and rule out measurement errors moving forward. 

Regularity is key

Sensors degrade over time with each sensor having a different life span of optimum operation, whether it is an electrochemical, catalytic bead and infra-red sensors. Regular calibration raises the gain levels and brings the sensor back in line to avoid dangerous incorrect readings. 

Once the sensor reaches a certain point it cannot be brought back into the correct position and this is the time when a new sensor needs to be installed. 

Explaining the calibration procedure 

The first step of the process is to set the device to calibration mode. This feeds a test gas of a known concentration onto the sensors to see how they respond. The gain levels are adjusted within the sensor to match the readings to the concentration fed in whilst mitigating drop off. 

The new settings are locked into the device’s firmware and a calibration report is produced, creating a PASS or FAIL result. 

Best Practice Tips and Tricks

Here are some best practice recommendations to help you maintain your FGA.

  • Clear out the water trap regularly – moisture is a by-product of combustion and can get sucked into the FGA when a test is undertaken. Water damage is the primary cause of damage in flue gas analysers, so it is imperative to check, empty and replace the unit’s inbuilt water traps and filters to protect from this.
  • Purge the device in clean air before powering down – noxious gases are drawn from the flue and passed over the sensors to gain a reading. After a test is completed and the system closes down some of that gas remains trapped inside. This can cause corrosion damage and shorten the life of the unit, so purging in clean air prior to shut down is a must.
  • Take inside to protect from cold weather conditions – to lessen the chances of condensation build up and water damage within your FGA make sure to remove the unit from your van overnight. This also reduces the risk of theft. 
  • Use approved chargers with outputs tailored for target device – non approved chargers cause damage to the battery and lessen charge retention, or even impairment to the battery and IC chips of the device itself.  
  • Check the devices’ probes and connector pipes – any splits or cracks in the rubber house will cause incorrect readings. Performing periodic checks on your hoses to ensure they are in good operating condition is a useful habit. 

All-Inclusive Service Options 

You have multiple options when sending your device off for it’s annual service and calibration:

Send it direct to us

Crowcon’s innovative Autocal jig system manages the end to end calibration process for Sprint Pro FGA’s. An out-of-calibration unit leads to errors in the combustion reports produced and could disrupt your day to day. 

Autocal servicing is easy. Simply bring your FGA to one of the DPD drop off locations, your unit will be inspected, tested and calibrated within two days and returned to you using DPD’s express return trackable option.

For more information please check out https://shop.crowcon.com/

Send it to your local store

Drop your device in to your local trade counter or specialist servicing centre at a time convenient to you and they will work with us to facilitate the annual calibration.
They will contact you to come and collect your device once the calibration is completed.

Why HVAC professionals are at risk from Carbon Monoxide – and how to manage it

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless and tasteless gas that is also highly toxic and potentially flammable (at higher levels: 10.9% Volume or 109,000ppm). It is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels such as wood, oil, coal, paraffin, LPG, petrol and natural gas. Many HVAC systems and units burn fossil fuels, so it’s not hard to see why HVAC professionals may be exposed to CO in their work. Perhaps you have, in the past, felt dizzy or nauseous, or had a headache during or after a job? In this blog post, we’ll look at CO and its effects, and consider how the risks can be managed.

How is CO generated?

As we have seen, CO is produced by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. This generally happens where there is a general lack of maintenance, insufficient air – or the air is of insufficient quality – to allow complete combustion.

For example, the efficient combustion of natural gas generates carbon dioxide and water vapour. But if there is inadequate air where that combustion takes place, or if the air used for combustion becomes vitiated, combustion fails and produces soot and CO. If there is water vapour in the atmosphere, this can reduce the oxygen level still further and speed up CO production.

What are the dangers of CO?

Normally, the human body uses haemoglobin to transport oxygen via the bloodstream. However, it is easier for the haemoglobin to absorb and circulate CO than oxygen. Consequently, when there is CO around, danger arises because the body’s haemoglobin ‘prefers’ CO over oxygen. When the haemoglobin absorbs CO in this way, it becomes saturated with CO, which is promptly and efficiently transported to all parts of the body in the form of carboxyhaemoglobin.

This can cause a range of physical problems, depending on how much CO is in the air. For example:

200 parts per million (ppm) can cause headache in 2–3 hours.
400 ppm can cause headache and nausea in 1–2 hours, life threatening within 3 hours.
800 ppm can cause seizures, severe headaches and vomiting in under an hour, unconsciousness within 2 hours.
1,500 ppm can cause dizziness, nausea, and unconsciousness in under 20 minutes; death within 1 hour.
6,400 ppm can cause unconsciousness after two to three breaths; death within 15 minutes.

Why are HVAC workers at risk?

Some of the most common events in HVAC settings may lead to CO exposure, for example:

Working in confined spaces, such as basements or lofts.
Working on heating appliances that are malfunctioning, in a poor state of repair, and/or have broken or worn seals; blocked, cracked or collapsed flues and chimneys; allowing products of combustion to enter the working area.
Working on open-flued appliances, especially if the flue is spilling, ventilation is poor and/or the chimney is blocked.
Working on flue-less gas fires and/or cookers, especially where the room volume is of inadequate size and/or the ventilation is otherwise poor.

How much is too much?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publishes a list of workplace exposure limits for many toxic substances, including CO. You can download the latest version free of charge from their website at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/eh40.htm but at time of writing (November 2021) the limits for CO are:

Workplace Exposure Limit

Gas Formula CAS Number Long Term Exposure Limit
(8-hr TWA Reference Period)
Short Term Exposure Limit
(15-min Reference period)
Carbon monoxide CO 630-08-0 20ppm (parts per million) 100ppm (parts per million)

How can I stay safe and prove compliance?

The best way to protect yourself from the hazards of CO is be wearing a high quality, portable CO gas detector. Crowcon’s Clip for CO is a lightweight 93g personal gas detector that sounds at 90db alarm whenever the wearing is being exposed to 30 and 100 ppm CO. The Clip CO is a disposable portable gas detector that has a 2-year lifespan or a maximum of 2900 alarm minutes; whichever is sooner.