Newest Review: ... Better safe than sorry, so I gave them a call. Now, the number for a gas emergency doiesn't change no matter who your supplier is. It will... more
Member Name: shewhoguards
Advantages: Free. Your house won't blow up. 24/7.
Disadvantages: Not obliged to relight pilot light. Will not fix appliances
For those who don't know, Transco/National Grid run the backbone of the UK's gas network. So, they supply the gas and charges your gas company for it, and then your gas company charge you. As a consumer, the only contact you are ever likely to have with them is in a gas emergency.
As I was "lucky" enough to have just that last night, I figured I would go through the basics.
A gas emergency is something that makes you suspect something has gone hokey with the gas supply. The most common sign is a smell of gas, but a very low gas supply - for instance only being able to get a tiny flame on your gas cooker - is also suspect as it may be low due to a leak reducing the pressure. An irregular pressure issue is suspect for the same reason. In my case the gas fire had suddenly flared up rather unnervingly, and I was unsure if I could smell gas. Better safe than sorry, so I gave them a call.
Now, the number for a gas emergency doiesn't change no matter who your supplier is. It will always be 0800111999. It's open 24/7 - I called about 10PM and got through straight away.
The girl asked me what the emergency was - could I smell gas, was there a smell of gas outside - and took my address and details. She also checked I'd followed safety proceedures. For those who don't know, in a potential gas emergency, the first thing you should do is turn off all gas appliances, then turn off your supply at the meter. Do that by opening the meter box and pulling the handle 90 degrees towards you (the only occasion where you should NOT do that is if your meter is in a cellar. Gas is heavy, and will sink down to the lowest room.). Then, open doors and windows to let any gas dissapate while you wait for the engineer.
The engineer should arrive within an hour - in my case, within 40 minutes. He was a nice guy, not at all bothered by having to tromp around working when most people were settling for the night. He checked my meter, determined there was no leak, checked my heating, and checked my fire, finally determining that although he suspected my fire was safe he couldn't guarantee it and that I needed to have it serviced before using it again.
He also relit my pilot light. Let me make it very clear - the engineers they send out are not *required* to do this. They are only their to make sure your house isn't going to explode and you aren't going to suffocate and die. This means they don't have to relight pilot lights, but may as a favour. They also do not cover your gas appliances. If you do have a leak they will deal with that, but they will not (and cannot) fix your gas, fire, or oven. All they can do is classify it as "safe", a "concern for safety" which means there are no obvious defects but further tests are needed, "at risk" which means a defect has been found which could make it become unsafe, or "immediate danger" which means it WILL be dangerous if used. Any one of those last three makes it illegal to use the appliance until you've had a Corgi registered engineer out to look at it.
In my case, the gas fire is now "cause for concern" rated, which was probably the least bad outcome I could expect (I had a new carpet fitted in that room last month, dammit! I don't want to replace the fire!) The engineer explained that he thinks it was probably just a one of freak occurence but that for liability's sake he can't confirm that until it's been safety checked which was fair enough. No-one wants the house to blow up after all.
So, not so much of an emergency after all. But good customer service, prompt response and a polite engineer made finding that out a good easy process.
Summary: They keep people safe by doing what they're meant to, and doing it well.
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