Gas Man Blog

"Counterfeit spare parts can have “quality, safety and legal implications” for installers."

"Counterfeit spare parts can have "quality, safety and legal implications" for installers."

Monday 29th May 2017

I thought I would share this with you all buying cheap parts on the internet could end up costing you more in the long run.

The sale and use of counterfeit spare parts is currently a hot topic for the heating sector with industry experts increasingly fearful of the consequences of installers using unapproved, non-genuine spares on a gas appliance. David Willetts - General Manager of Baxi Genuine Parts - explains how they can have far-reaching quality, safety and legal implications for installers.

When customers demand value for money, it's hard to find ways to make quotes more cost-effective for them to secure the business. One way that some choose to do this is to use non-genuine parts when carrying out repairs, but these cheap alternatives can cost customers and installers dearly in the long run. At the very least they can damage the boiler, invalidate the manufacturer's warranty and harm the installer's reputation - not to mention the increased risks to life and property.

Current concern

Members of the HHIC, including Baxi, are increasingly concerned about public safety as a result of the influx of counterfeit replacements parts for gas appliances hitting the UK market. Manufacturers are legally bound by UK and European legislation to ensure products conform to the latest safety standards and they are tested regularly to ensure compliance. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for counterfeit alternatives.

Legal issues

These parts are often made from inferior materials or components and are unlikely to have been through the same lifecycle testing and approvals process as genuine parts, so may not last as long or be as reliable. The installation of non-genuine parts could also have serious legal consequences for installers, which could lead to prosecution.

This is because the manufacture, sale and installation of any boiler part is surrounded by a whole host of legal obligations. Legally speaking, the sale and fitting of non-genuine parts falls under three categories: parts that haven't been approved for use with gas appliances and therefore do not carry the CE mark, counterfeit parts, and parts that infringe on intellectual property.

So what happens when an installer fits a non-approved spare? Firstly, any part fitted to an appliance that is different to the one specified in the manufacturer's technical file will immediately invalidate the CE mark certification of the boiler. The responsibility for the safe operation of the boiler then passes to the installer fitting the part as the manufacturer can no longer guarantee the safety of the appliance. Installers are therefore left open to the risk of prosecution should anything go wrong.

While a non-genuine spare may look like it will do the job, there are many unknowns. Does it contain any hazardous materials, is it reliable, will it fit the boiler properly, will it cause other safety and performance issues? The installer won't be able to answer those questions and will not have a reputable manufacturer to go back to should the part fail or cause damage to the boiler later down the line.

True or false?

Of course, it's quite possible that an installer may unknowingly buy a counterfeit part. There is, then, an education job to be done to help installers identify a genuine part from a copy. If installers stick to trusted merchants, they should stay on the right side of the law.

And it isn't just fake parts that installers should be wary of. Refurbished parts are also subject to legal implications and installers should be aware of those too. The General Product Safety legislation (Directive 2001/95/EC) orders that they have to be safe, fit for purpose and that whoever purchases the product is not misled into thinking it is a brand new part.

One way that installers can differentiate a refurbished part from a genuine one is that - to meet legislation requirements - all markings from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) must have been removed on a refurbished spare.