When was the last time you had your boat’s gas system checked?
If you own a boat, then you know how expensive it can be to keep it on the water, with mooring fees, insurance, and fuel charges. The maintenance of any boat is very expensive.
So when was the last time you checked the vessel’s gas system?
When you think about it, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is probably the most dangerous substance you have in your boat, and yet you will spend more money on cleaning, painting the hull, and engine maintenance than on your boat’s gas system. .
Ships are not like cars, they tend to stay around much longer and as such will have old, obsolete, even dangerous gas appliances installed that have never been serviced.
Your boat’s gas system should be checked at least once a year by a Gas Safe registered marine engineer. Any faults or problems will be reported to you and then you can fix it.
Your boat’s gas system proves that you can do it yourself
Depending on what gas appliances are installed on your boat, always make sure they are burning with a nice clean flame when in operation.
Keep the appliance clean, if you notice dust or dirt on or around the appliance burner, turn it off immediately, let it cool down and then clean it thoroughly.
The gas bottle locker should have a drain hole that discharges through the side of the boat and not into the hull, make sure the drain is clear and not blocked.
Take a bucket of water and rinse it just to make sure it runs freely. LPG is a heavy gas and as such will drop to a low level, so the drain must be clear.
While in the gas bottle locker, pay attention to the gas hose, make sure there are no scratches and cracks, it will have a date stamp, check the date, they should be changed every 5 years for safety. I bet yours is over 5 years old.
The gas hob is probably the most widely used appliance on the boat, used to make coffee. Burner rings tend to lock up after a while. If you notice that the flame is a little high on one side and lower on the other, turn it off, let it cool, and then clean it well.
All modern ships will have gas isolation valves installed on all appliances; on older boats they may not be installed, make sure they are all working properly, turn on the appliance, then close the isolation valve. If the appliance is switched off, the valve continues to function correctly.
The reason you need to check all the appliances and isolation valves is corrosion, the same reason you clean the hull, in the course of the season it accumulates on the hull, it is the same for your appliances and gas valves .
When it comes time to change the gas bottle, make sure you have the correct faucet for the job, it will make it that much easier.
Before you start, make sure all gas appliances are turned off, the same goes for the bottle. Close all windows or openings on the boat, you don’t want any gas leaks to enter.
Now change the bottle, making sure to tighten the connection on the new bottle. Open the bottle isolation valve slowly, once open go to the device that is furthest away.
Now you need to bleed the gas through, do this by lighting the appliance, make sure the spark generator is working, if not, some form of permanent ignition is needed to ignite the gas.
The ignition part is very important; You don’t want any gas to escape, so as soon as you turn on the gas, make sure the lighter is working. Then do the same for the next device and so on.
Most boat insurance companies will require that you have an annual check of the boat’s gas system before insuring your boat.
They want to know that the boat they are insuring is gas safe.
Most marinas also require that any ship with gas on board have an annual gas system safety check.
They will also want to see a copy of the gas safety certificate to keep for their records.
General gas safety
As with anything that uses gas, safety should always come first.
If you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed, verify that they are working by pressing the test button on each visit to your ship.
If you find that it doesn’t work, change the batteries or replace them.
Never block any vents that may be installed on your boat, they are installed for a reason and as such could be fatal if blocked.
If you ever change any gas appliance or accessory, have it checked to make sure you and your boat are safe, yes, it will cost you, but surely the safety is priceless.
How to Find a Boat Safe Gas Engineer
If you have internet access, look for the gas safe register. Follow the link to the site, once on the site you can enter details of what type of registered engineer you want.
My advice would be to contact them by phone, you will see the contact number on the contact page.
The reason I say contact them by phone is that you can explain exactly what kind of engineer you need for your job.
Someone who is registered for gas insurance can only be registered for natural gas fires and as such cannot work on their boat’s gas system.
Having a safe gas log is a bit tricky as there are so many different categories to choose from.
Each category will have an exam that the engineer must pass in order to work in that category.
The fact that the engineer is registered to work with natural gas does not mean that he can work with LPG and vessels, he must be registered for LPG and vessels.
Always be safe and have fun on your boat.