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Are you qualified to work on fuel-fired equipment?

By John Marshall, BA, CIGC, CFEI

POOL-HEATER-FIRE
Only those professionals with the proper technical certification may install, service, or relight a pilot light on a fuel-fired (gas or propane) pool heater.

For Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA), when it comes to fuel-fired pool heater installation and maintenance, qualifications matter. Only those professionals with the proper technical certification may install, service, or relight a pilot light on a fuel-fired (gas or propane) pool heater. Homeowners may also relight the pilot light (using manufacturer’s certified instructions, of course).

It is not unusual for pool owners to ask unregistered landscapers or pool installation or maintenance contractors to light their pool heaters—after all, what is the harm—it is a simple task, right? It may seem simple, but there is much more to the exercise than meets the eye, which makes this task not only unsafe, but also illegal under TSSA Fuel Safety regulations, O. Reg. 212/01: Gaseous Fuels, under the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 16.

It is important to remember a pool heater is still a fuel-fired appliance, and like a hot water heater or furnace, should only be installed and maintained by those trained and certified to do so.

Inadequately maintained heaters can develop carbon build-up, create deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas and, if exposed to an ignition source, ignite, causing injury or death as well as extensive damage to property.

On the safe side

A pool service professional that is not also a certified gas technician can work on the ‘wet’ side of the pool heater, e.g. water lines, circulators, chlorination systems, and skimmers. The safety considerations related to the ‘gas’ side of this integrated appliance demand a pool service professional that installs or services this type of equipment be trained and certified to ensure:

  • The whole installation meets all applicable codes;
  • All of its operational characteristics meet its design specifications;
  • Its gas input and combustion characteristics meet with design specifications/code requirements; and
  • The appliance is serviced as a whole, i.e. the ‘wet’ and ‘gas’ sides work together.

Only trained and certified gas technicians are permitted to:

  • Install or service gas piping;
  • Install, service, or repair combustion and/or safety controls, or any other component that forms part of the ‘heating’ side of the appliance;
  • Install or service venting components;
  • Test for the safe operation of the appliance and its fuel-related components; and
  • Inspect the installation for gas code compliance.
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