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Incomplete advice poses deadly risk says APHC

The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) has claimed the coroner in the Rhianna Hardie case has underestimated the potential risk from failing heating appliances.

The Association warned more than five million homes could be affected, rather than the 3.5 million suggested by coroner Michael Rose.

John Thompson, technical services manager of APHC, said: “While the coroner was absolutely right to warn people about the thermostat failure in an electrical immersion heater, it is not the only potential danger to homeowners and tenants.

“Risks exist with a broad range of other heating appliances. For example, gas or oil-fired hot water systems fitted with a single thermostat have the ability to be able to continue to heat the water to boiling point if the thermostat fails.

“Similarly, solid fuel systems with no thermostat - or with simple thermostatic controls that can get jammed open in use - will create considerably more heat than immersion heaters.

“The Rhianna Hardie case was not just as a result of a faulty immersion heater thermostat. The incorrect installation of the cistern was a major contributory factor.

“Cisterns correctly fitted on an adequate base can readily receive boiling water for many hours without failure. A combination of faults gave rise to this sad case. However, more than just homes with immersion heaters fitted over ten years old should be checked.”

The Association wants the Government to ensure the review of Part G of the Building Regulations is adequate in ensuring that a repeat of the tragedy does not occur.

Clive Dickin, CEO of APHC (pictured), said: “The review has been on the Government agenda for almost three years and a lack of resources in Communities and Local Government has resulted in this being placed as a low priority.

“In addition, not all facets of the plumbing and heating industry are being engaged in this process; this will give rise to amendments to the guidance being questioned, especially in light of the incomplete information being given to consumers in this case.

“If a review of this nature is to take place, then all stakeholders should be involved in ensuring safety is not compromised,” he concluded.

Following the inquest verdict, the APHC issued a guide for consumers. Click hereto access.