A correct installation and regular checks of your boat’s gas system are vital for safety. Here’s how to check your boat and its gas system – and we follow a professional gas checker for a final inspection
Considering gas is the most dangerous substance likely to be on board, you’d be surprised how far down the list most people place the safety of their gas system.
Many boats have dangerously old and outdated installations, but it seems owners are loth to replace them. It’s seen as a minor job compared with tasks with more visible results, like painting the hull or servicing the engine. But a safe set-up and regular checks of your gas system are jobs that could do more than anything else to protect you and your boat.
Many insurers require a Gas Safety Certificate, particularly on the purchase, so they know they’re ensuring a safe boat. If you use your boat for charter, the MCA’s coding requirements mean you’ll need a certificate before the boat is passed as fit for use – and it’s much the same if you live aboard or keep the boat on inland waterways. But what’s actually involved in a gas check?
I tagged along with David Brooks of Gas Check Marine while he checked one boat over and installed a new system on another. He installs and checks gas systems on boats all along the South Coast.
The basis for the standard adhered to is the Boat Safety Scheme, designed for inland waterways. Many insurance companies won’t cover you if your system is outdated or dangerous. Or in some cases, they’ll issue an exclusion to gas-related claims.
‘In a marina, you could cause a lot of damage with a gas explosion,’ David points out, ‘And the boats around aren’t likely to be impressed when they’re left with the bill. What’s more, it’s a serious safety risk: only last year, a man died in Poole when a gas leak ignited and burned the boat to the waterline.
For a Gas Safety Certificate, your system needs to be checked by a marine LPG gas engineer. That can be pricey if you’re having a whole system installed, but you can save money by doing much of the work yourself before employing an engineer to check and test the system for its certificate.
A gas check costs in the region of £60, so if you attempt the work yourself, it’s worth making sure you do it right the first time – otherwise, it’ll cost you more time and money in remedial work. If you have any doubts, get an engineer to do the installation for you: it’s not worth messing around with gas, and you’ll have peace of mind that it’s correctly installed.