Gas Regulator Age Limit

 

 

     What if I told you there was a safety-critical gas fitting in thousands of UK homes and to other appliances that can fail to danger, and yet is commonly purchased and installed by members of the public?

     An LPG cylinder contains liquefied gas at nominal pressures of 2 bar (butane) and 7 bar (propane) at 150C. These pressures can rise significantly higher in hot weather. Domestic LPG appliances are designed to receive LPG at 37 mbars. All that stands between the high-pressure gas and the appliance is the humble LPG regulator, a simple device consisting of a spring, a flexible diaphragm and a mechanical linkage. For bulk installation of four cylinders and over the law requires the inclusion of over–pressure protection, but for many small installations a single stage regulator is used with no such safety device. These include single cylinder screw-in or clip-on types, and wall mounted changeover devices for two cylinders.

     All things fail with age, and single stage regulators are no exception. The manufacturers and the relevant industry trade body all state these should be changed before they reach 10 years of age. Failure of the regulator allows the high-pressure gas to enter downstream pipework and appliances that are not designed to contain gas at those pressures. This can lead to gas leaks or explosive ignitions and fires. I've investigated too many of these.

     I’m asking everyone to increase awareness of this issue with homeowners and gas engineers.

My personal recommendations are:

     Replace any LPG regulator that is approaching 10 years old

     Replace any LPG regulator where the age is uncertain

     Replace any regulator if there is a chance liquid gas has reached the regulator because         of cylinder tipping

     When replacing a regulator choose one that incorporates OPSO (over pressure shut off)

 

Steve Critchlow

(Gas incident investigator at Health & Safety Executive)

 

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