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Plumber in court after 92-year-old’s ordeal

A 92-year-old woman suffered headaches, dizziness, and falls after a plumber taped over a gas flue in a flat directly above hers.

What happened?

Paul Hockey, trading as PCH Plumbing, had been installing two extractor units at a flat in Borough Green when he found two gas flues in the roof space.

Assuming one was the supply and the other an extract for an unused gas boiler, he cut into one of the pipes and used it to vent the extractors. He then taped over the open section at the bottom of the flue, to stop insects and dust getting in.

In the weeks following, the 92-year-old resident of the flat below reported headaches, dizzy spells and had fallen multiple times.

An investigation later found that the flue that had been taped over actually served the downstairs flat, and the products of combustion had, as a result, built up in the flat.

What was the outcome?

Mr Hockey plead guilty to breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and was fined £1,250 and ordered to pay £500 in costs.

Rob Hassell, an HSE Inspector,said:

“The incident was entirely preventable. Paul Hockey was totally unaware
that the flue he cut into was still in use. Alterations to
flues should only be carried out by suitably
qualified Gas Safe Registered engineers.

“Companies and individuals should not assume that a flue is not live. They need to
investigate the nature and current use of flues serving gas appliances and
make sure the work carried out does not adversely affect the safe
working of a gas appliance by altering air supply or flue.”

If you have been affected by professional negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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