A week in the life of... a gas engineer
For Thrive Homes gas engineer Ian Lewis, the week started with a gas cylinder check and ended with appointments cancelled due to the resident having COVID-19 symptoms. He talks through a week in his work life with Inside Housing.
I was shocked during an annual landlord inspection today – I could only find the back of the carbon monoxide detector and when I asked the tenant if she knew where the alarm was, she replied: “It was making a noise so I threw it out!” I installed a new detector and gave the tenant information about carbon monoxide and its effects – and instructions about what to do if the detector beeps.
Unusually, I started the day with four jobs within a minute of each other; two were even in the same block. However, my euphoria was short-lived as three of them were ‘no access’ – the tenant wasn’t home or we couldn’t access the property for some reason.
Turning up for a job only to find it’s no access is one of our biggest challenges. Not only does it cost us time and money and affect our ability to operate efficiently, it’s also a big safety concern as we cannot carry out preventative and visual safety assessments.
Flexibility and adaptability are crucial. I quickly brought jobs forward from the afternoon and another day and allocated some to other engineers. As a result, it ended up being quite a busy day as I could work on two gas inspections originally scheduled for Wednesday.
There is always something to learn and improve. That’s why our team is constantly being trained and taking different courses. Today, I took a course on finding boiler faults, which helped increase my technical knowledge with up-to-date safety and energy-efficiency information from boiler manufacturers.
A landlord inspection today presented another aspect of my job. The customer had very recently lost his wife and was understandably down. It was really touching when he was so appreciative his boiler had been serviced and repaired, which was one less thing for him to worry about before winter.
People often think we’re just here to fix the boilers, but we’re so much more than that.
Something that makes our job trickier these days is checking if anyone in a household has COVID-19 symptoms. Sometimes you can’t perform your tasks at short notice, as happened today when a customer cancelled their scheduled appointment.
Later, I went to help someone having issues with hot water. After a quick inspection, I realised the job was trickier than expected, requiring four parts of different sizes.
This kind of job usually takes time and while it’s not ideal to continue after normal finishing time on a Friday, I was happy to stay with the customer so they would have access to hot water over the weekend. But in the end it only took 15 minutes, so my weekend started early!
This post was originally published by Inside Housing on 21st October 2020