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Advice on heating breakdowns during lockdown for Irish households

May 18, 2020, 16:16 PM by OFTEC
As lockdown continues in Ireland, OFTEC, who represents the liquid fuel sector, is providing advice for householders in the event of home heating emergencies.

The organisation has issued new guidelines to households to help answer questions on whether maintenance or servicing work can still be carried out in the home during the continued Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

With Phase 1 of Ireland’s Roadmap for reopening launched last week, many households may now be asking whether work can still go ahead on their property in the current climate. In response, OFTEC has answered some of the most common questions to help homeowners comply with government advice and stay safe. These include:

Can work continue in my home?

At present, only emergency and repair work can be carried out by heating technicians in Ireland in your home. If you have an emergency and a technician is visiting, ideally you should stay in another room while work is carried out and the 2 metre social distancing rules must be followed at all times. If the work is outside your home, non-emergency works can commence but with social distancing requirements continuing to apply.

OFTEC has advised technicians to undertake additional risk assessments and many businesses have indicated that they will only carry out emergency work at present due to the current restrictions imposed by Government.

Are there circumstances when work must not be carried out in my home?

Work should not be carried out in households where occupants are self-isolating or being ‘shielded’. If there is an urgent need to address a direct risk to those living in the property, such as emergency plumbing or repair work, this can go ahead if the tradesperson is willing to do so. Additional precautions may also need to be put in place.

If it is safe to carry out work in my home, what should I expect?

Many tradespeople have introduced additional precautionary measures and it is important to follow these carefully. They may include:

  • Asking you to stay in a separate room whilst the work is completed
  • Requesting doors and windows are open to increase ventilation
  • Adapting payment methods e.g. no paper invoices or cash payments
  • Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Regularly washing their hands and bringing their own towel
  • Declining refreshments

Can I still have heating oil delivered?

Yes. There are 680,000 home in Ireland who rely on oil to heat their homes and the good news is, the price of oil has plummeted which is a welcome relief when many incomes may have been reduced. Oil deliveries continue as normal but please do not approach the delivery driver as he will be observing social distancing. Most if not all will require prepayment by card and it is unlikely that cash will be received.

David Blevings, Manager of OFTEC Ireland, commented: "It is a very unsettling time for many households and there is a lot of confusion about tradespeople working in homes. The government advice is regularly being updated so ensure you check their website for the latest information.

"Most tradespeople have introduced new safety measures as a precaution for both your and their benefit so don't take it personally if they change the way they work! If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to raise them with the tradesperson. Remember, always ask to see an ID badge to check their credentials such as whether they are OFTEC (for oil and solid fuel) or Registered Gas Installer (RGI, for mains gas) registered. This will ensure the work is completed safely and to a high standard."

With Covid-19 also putting financial pressure on many in Ireland, the liquid fuel organisation is urging Government to ensure Irish householders have a sustainable but affordable option when upgrading their heating in the future. As part of the Climate Action Plan, OFTEC is calling on the Government to endorse and support the industry’s proposal to move to biofuels. It is the least costly and disruptive way to achieve sustainability in Ireland’s liquid fuel heating sector. The sector is committed to delivering a 100% sustainable liquid fuel by 2035 to help reduce emissions from home heating here. In OFTEC’s view, a simple stepped approach introducing blended fuels is the least costly and disruptive way to achieve sustainability in the liquid fuel heating sector.

For further information visit our consumer section.
*Stay at home, uSwitch - March 2020

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