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Portable gas heaters should be banned from Kiwi homes

23 April 2018

Master Plumbers wants portable gas heaters banned from all residential properties in New Zealand, because of the serious risks they pose to your health and safety.

Portable gas heaters lack a flue or chimney to carry combustion products outside. This means poisonous gases can be trapped inside your home.

The heaters have been banned in Canada, some US States and in parts of Australia. Master Plumbers believe New Zealand needs to follow suit and welcomes the Government’s move to review the use of these heaters in rental properties, as part of its consultation process on the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act.

“The Ministry of Health warns that portable unflued gas heaters release polluting gases directly into the room that can harm your health,” says CEO Greg Wallace. “They are also a source of condensation, making homes damp.

“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world. A 2007 study report found that the health of children with asthma improved significantly when unflued gas heaters were replaced with cleaner heating sources.

“It is not safe to use portable gas heaters in sleeping rooms or small rooms, such as bathrooms or hallways. However, as portable heaters can easily be moved to any room in the house, it’s easy for you to put yourself or your family at risk by using them in these areas.

Greg Wallace says manually connecting a LPG gas bottle inside your home also creates a serious fire hazard.

“If you incorrectly connect your gas bottle to your outdoor BBQ it may not have catastrophic consequences—as it’s in an open space. But if you make the same mistake with an indoor cabinet heater it certainly could. The close proximity of the burner to the gas bottle, combined with the fact that gas leaks build up indoors, makes it a very real fire hazard.

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act, passed in December, enables the Government to set standards for rental housing quality, relating to heating, ventilation, drainage, moisture, insulation and draught stopping.

Under the Act, landlords could be banned from providing portable gas heaters, such as LPG cabinet heaters, in rental properties and tenancy agreements could stipulate that tenants are not allowed to use them.

However, the heaters will still be available in shops. “Whilst these relatively cheap heaters may appear to be cost-effective heating solutions, you have to weigh this up against the risk to the public. Surely the health and safety risks are too great to continue their use,” Greg Wallace Says.

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