Choosing a gas engineer isn’t as easy as it might sound. It’s not like choosing a painter or gardener. The worst that can happen if you make a bad decision there is that your house or your garden ends up looking shabby. The consequences of picking a bad gas engineer can be fatal. But where do you start? Here’s our easy-to-follow four-step guide.
It almost seems too obvious to be worth mentioning, but recommendations from people you trust are one of the most reliable predictors of contractor competence. That’s because the psychology of making a recommendation is rather complex. By making a recommendation on a topic as serious as gas safety, the person takes a risk with their own reputation and credibility. If their recommendation turns out to be bad, they risk their social consequences. If it turns out to be good, they naturally feel that their social standing has increased. Never be afraid of asking people you trust to recommend a gas engineer.
The one caveat of taking a recommendation from a friend or family member is that they are likely not an expert judge of gas safety and contractor competence. They can only make recommendations based on their own, isolated experience. But it’s a great place to start.
Read reviews (and don’t take all of them literally)
Reviews outperform personal recommendations in one key regard; there are typically lots of them. Reviews can be trusted to a degree because they invoke the concept of ‘wisdom of crowds.’ If a thousand people have reviewed a particular contractor, and 900 of those are positive, you can safely bet that this contractor is good. But consider this. Out of the 100 who left a bad review, many will also be giving personal recommendations to people who trust them telling them to not use the contractor.
The other things to consider when using reviews to judge contractors are credibility and fraud. There’s a less social risk to leave an inaccurate review compared to a personal recommendation. And of course, there’s the problem of fake reviews, both positive and negative. So it pays to take into account these factors when assessing a gas engineer.
Seek manufacturer accreditations
These are an overlooked source of information. Appliance manufacturers take their reputations extremely seriously, so they don’t accredit engineers casually. A manufacturer accreditation typically requires hours of training and practical exams working on a range of the manufacturer’s different products. So if you can find a contractor who is accredited by the manufacturer, it’s a good sign.
Find out about trade memberships
Trade bodies and memberships are useful for getting a sense of how professional, experienced, and qualified a contractor is. In the United States, one of the big membership bodies for gas engineers is the American Society of Gas Engineers (ASGE). To become a member, a gas engineer needs to undergo regular training and renew their membership at specific intervals. One of the upsides to going with a member of a trade body is that the engineer has a lot riding on doing a good job. Membership organizations can withdraw an engineer’s membership if they fall below certain standards and will often help resolve disputes too. It’s in their interests to do this in order to protect the integrity of their membership body.
But always be sure to check the bonafides of any membership body as closely as you’d check the bonafides of the tradesperson, even ones with grand-sounding names like ASGE. Research out of the UK conducted by heating and hot water specialists Aspect recently found that 58% of consumers believed membership of CORGI (Council for Registered Gas Installers) was a “must-have” for any engineer they hired, even though CORGI ceased being the official gas engineer register ten years earlier.