One of the most common issues we come across in our gas safety checks is the hard-to-reach gas regulator. This seemingly small problem is crucial to fix, or gas appliances will be non-compliant and impossible to test properly.
What does a gas regulator do?
A gas regulator is a pressure valve attached to every gas appliance.
The gas coming from the mains is under very high pressure. The gas regulator reduces this flow to a lower pressure as it flows into the gas appliances in a home. It maintains the flow of gas consistently at the right level for safe operation, cutting the flow when necessary.
If the regulator is faulty it might allow too much or too little gas into the appliance, either of which can cause dangerous conditions.
What makes a gas regulator inaccessible?
To test the gas regulator, the gas fitter needs to use a screwdriver to remove a screw and insert a tube running to a device called a digital manometer. The manometer measures the pressure while the appliance is running.
If the position of the regulator prevents the gas fitter from removing the screw and inserting the tube for the manometer, the gas regulator is considered inaccessible.
Unfortunately it’s common for gas regulators to be placed inappropriately—hard up against appliances or in cabinetry in such a way that the angle doesn’t allow for the gas fitter to do what they need to do. An inaccessible gas regulator is one of the most common compliance issues we come across in our gas safety checks.
Historically this issue probably went unchecked because gas appliances weren’t tested as regularly. With the introduction of mandatory safety checks every two years, proper positioning of the gas regulator has become a pressing issue.
Why does it matter?
In order to complete mandatory gas safety checks (as set out in AS/NZS5601.1), access to the gas regulator “without hazard or undue difficulty” is required.
We’ve experienced pushback from property owners and managers who are sceptical that the position of the gas regulator is a serious issue that needs rectifying. It’s understandable that people are guarded when it comes to incurring extra costs for what looks like a minor issue.
Since we were coming across this issue so often, we undertook extensive consultation with the Victorian Building Authority and Energy Safe Victoria to confirm we were giving our clients the right advice.
ESV and the VBA confirmed that:
- Measuring the gas pressure to appliances is a required element of a gas safety check
- Gas regulators must be located so they can be accessed without undue difficulty while the appliance is in its installed position
- If the above is not met, the installation is considered non-compliant.
How do you fix an inaccessible gas regulator?
If the gas regulator can easily be moved on the spot during the safety check, the team will do that.
Often it’s a more complicated job. Depending on the location of the regulator and the type of connection points, the pipework might need to be modified or lengthened.
For example, in the below photo, you can see that the regulator is connected directly to the cooktop. It is hard up against the underside of the cooktop, therefore not allowing it to be rotated for accessibility.
As it is essentially a fixed point, it requires additional copper to lengthen the connection point, move the regulator further from the cooktop connection and once completed, will allow the testing point to be accessed.
Another example is when the regulator has been installed hard against cabinetry with a fixed connection point (e.g., glued together) like in the below photo.
It requires the whole regulator connection point to be modified with additional copper or potentially a full relocation.
With all modifications to pipework, a specified certificate needs to be provided. It might also require additional parts and cutting into cabinetry. Relocating a gas regulator must be done by an accredited gas fitter.
Taking all this into consideration, Detector Inspector will provide a quote for further work.
A little valve that’s a big deal
Don’t let a plumber or a non-accredited tradesperson tell you that an inaccessible gas regulator isn’t a big deal. It renders the installation non-compliant, but more importantly, if gas pressure isn’t tested every 2 years it could allow dangerous faults to go unchecked.
Failure to make the regulator accessible for regular checks will leave owners and managers legally exposed. It’s crucial to enrol your properties for regular gas safety services carried out by a properly accredited service provider and designed meet all the requirements for gas checks under the new legislation.