We’re moving office! From 22 July, our address will be Level 22, 2 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank.
Find out more

Open-flued heaters and shutdown features

Some open-flued gas space heaters can no longer be sold or installed unless they meet new Victorian safety standards

Overview

As of 1 August 2022 certain open flued gas space heaters (OFGSHs) can no longer be sold or installed unless they meet new safety standards throughout Victoria. This affects any open-flued gas space heater that does not shut down automatically when they spill combustion products.

Refer to the Victorian Government Gazette links below for detailed information:

For more information we have developed technical FAQs for gasfitters - see below. There's also page of FAQs for your customers.

More detailed information about current accepted (certified) OFGSHs can be found in the Gas Technical Regulators Committee (GTRC) guidance document or on the GTRC website

Background

Amendments introduced to Australian Standards AS/NZS5263.1.3 and AS/NZS5263.1.8 on 12 November 2021, require that OFGSHs and open flued Type 2 decorative effect gas appliances that comply with the thermal efficiency requirements of an OFGSH (Type 2 Appliances), shut down automatically if they spill combustion products for more than 15 minutes where there is a continuous negative pressure environment.

The amendments apply to all new OFGSHs and Type 2 Appliances that meet thermal efficiency requirements manufactured from 1 January 2022. Energy Safe is using its regulatory powers under section 76 the Gas Safety Act 1997 to prohibit the sale of OFGSHs that do not have the automatic shutdown safety capability.

As of 1 August 2022 OFGSHs, (including second-hand OFGSHs), that do not have the automatic shutdown safety capability will be prohibited from sale in Victoria.

OFGSHs unable to meet new requirements are no longer accepted

In addition, Energy Safe is also using its regulatory powers under section 69A the Gas Safety Act 1997 to declare OFGSHs that are not already installed, or do not have the automatic shutdown safety capability, to be a non-accepted (uncertified) class of appliance.

Therefore after 1 August 2022 OFGSHs that are not already installed and that do not have the automatic shutdown safety capability are considered uncertified.

Reasons for the declaration decision

Energy Safe assessed risks posed by old open-flued gas space heaters. These are gas appliances that lack modern safety features. In assessing these risks, Energy Safe regarded the death of Ms Sonia Sofianopoulos in July 2017. Energy Safe also regarded the deaths of Chase and Tyler Robinson in May 2010.

Energy Safe determined open-flued gas space heaters were unsafe if they lacked the following features/qualities:

  • A fan-assisted combustion system, where the burner only operates while the fan functions.
  • A fail-safe interlock that will shut down within 15 minutes if spillage occurs. This shutdown will apply under any negative pressure condition.
  • An ability to automatically reset if shut down. That means the appliance requires the use of a tool for access to reset the appliance manually.
  • The carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide ratio of its combustion products does not exceed 0.02 after 10 minutes of operation under any operating conditions.
  • Concentration of CO in the combustion products does not exceed 90 ppm when the fail-safe interlock is tested in a test room under negative pressure conditions.

Energy Safe determined that open-flued gas space heaters lacking the above features are unsafe to use – or likely to become unsafe to use – for the following reasons:

  • They are susceptible to the effects of negative pressure.
  • Airflow through the flue could become restricted or even reversed. They may also produce high levels of CO if the supply of fresh air is deficient. This CO could then be drawn into the building.
  • These appliances are used for long periods of time. Dangerous levels of CO can build up in a negative pressure environment due to this.
  • CO inhalation can result in poisoning and death.
  • Modern homes are more energy efficient. Air extraction systems such as bathroom exhaust fans and kitchen rangehoods are becoming more powerful. As a result, there is an increased risk of negative pressure environments in new housing stock.

What are the penalties?

It is an offence under section 70 of the Gas Safety Act 1997 for a gasfitter to install this class of appliance. The penalty for committing this offence is in the case of an individual, 40 penalty units and in the case of a body corporate, 200 penalty units.

It is also an offence under section 71 of the Gas Safety Act 1997 to supply or sell an unaccepted OFGSH. The penalty for committing this offence is also in the case of an individual, 40 penalty units and in the case of a body corporate, 200 penalty units (as of 1 July 2022 the value of a penalty unit is $184.92).

Technical FAQs for gasfitters

Date: 20/07/2024 13:14

Controlled document

The currency and accuracy of this document cannot be guaranteed once printed or saved to a storage device. If in doubt, please check the ESV website for the current version.

Reviewed