Fox & Co is committed to the safety of you and your family. Natural gas is safe when used properly, but like any other form of energy, it must be treated with respect to avoid accidents.

Fox and Co  wishes, for reasons concerning the safety of you and your family to draw to your attention problems that may arise with some water heaters.

Because of the potentially serious consequences of these problems, it is important that you read the following safety message carefully so that you can take appropriate action if necessary.

If you have one of the illustrated gas bath heaters or flued instantaneous water heaters in your bathroom, or flueless water heaters in your kitchen, and it has not been properly maintained it could prove unsafe for you and your family.

These water heating appliances, which were sold and installed until 1987, depend on permanent unobstructed ventilation, and any restriction of this ventilation will affect the water heater's ability to operate safely. It is possible that structural changes around the water heater may have inadvertently obstructed ventilation.

Flued water heaters use a flue pipe which under normal condition, vent fumes harmlessly to the atmosphere (just like a chimmney).

In some circumstances and, in particular, if the flue pipe becomes restricted, poisonous fumes such as carbon monoxide can be forced back into the room contaminating the air your breath.

If inhaled in sufficient quantity, carbon monoxide can be fatal. As carbon monoxide is colour-less, odourless and tasteless, you may never be aware that this is happening.

Bathrooms are particularly tough on water heaters, due to the moist, corrosive environment. Lint (hair, fluff from towels) plus talcum powder, shampoo and aerosol residue in the atmosphere, can accumulate within the appliance and restrict the air necessary for the burner to operate safely.

Flueless water heating appliances which can be found in cupboards below kitchen sink units were designed to operate on an intermittent basis, and therefore did not require a flue pipe. However, these water heating appliances still require permanent unobstructed ventilation to supply the air necessary for the burner to operate safely.

We recommend that any gas:

  • bath heater in a bathroom;
  • flued instantaneous water heater in a bathroom; and
  • flueless water heater in a kitchen,

illustrated above should be checked to ensure that it is operating safely. In some instances, the potential risk will only be eliminated by the replacement of the existing water heater. 

If you are uncertain whether you have a water heater of this type in your home, please discuss this with:

Fox & Co Plumbing & Heating on 020 8883 2223

We also recommend that you have water heaters of this type serviced on a regular basis, at least annually. Ensure all aspects of the appliance and appliance installation are checked. Be aware of staining or discolouration of the appliance or the walls near the appliance, as this can indicate problems with the appliance or appliance flue. It is essential that the water heater has permanent unobstructed ventilation.

Finally, if you are renting your home, it is important to bring this safety message to the attention of the property owner, estate agent, landlord or relevant government body.