Commercially viable

The steps domestic gas engineers need to take to work on the bigger and potentially more lucrative projects

Mark Krull, from Logic4training, explains the steps domestic gas engineers need to take to work on the bigger and potentially more lucrative projects in the commercial sector.
If you’re Gas Safe Registered, with domestic qualifications, and feel it’s time for a change/expansion in the services you offer, making a move into the commercial sector could prove a lucrative step. Split into two main areas – heating and catering – the commercial sector is primarily comprised of major installation on new build projects, annual service and maintenance contracts and ad-hoc breakdown servicing of gas heating systems in premises such as factories, industrial units, retail outlets, schools and offices.
Even large houses qualify if their boilers are big enough – it’s the size of the system and incoming gas supply that determines whether an application is considered ‘commercial’. This variety means it offers many opportunities for installers with the right skills.
Train to become a commercial gas engineer
If you already hold you domestic ACS, there are a number of routes into the sector. If you have some relevant experience then a domestic to commercial changeover course may be all that’s required, but if you’ve never worked in this area and need to start at the beginning then there’s an up-skilling course (Note – this is only available for commercial heating through Logic4training).
There is also a route for candidates without a recognised qualification or who have not held ACS or ACoP, but with relevant experience – Approved Prior Learning (APL). This new entrants’ programme is ideal for plumbers or individuals who have worked alongside a qualified commercial installer.
Learning new skills
Commercial heating
Appliances in the commercial sector are bigger and sometimes more complex than their domestic counterparts. Logic4training’s courses cover the different appliance types – indirect and direct gas-fired appliances, radiant tube and plaque heaters (for example – systems, flues, controls and pipework).
In addition, candidates will learn various different types of commercial appliance function and operation. Assessment modules are optional so it is important to look at what areas will be most relevant to your work.
Training and assessment includes:
•    Installation requirements for commercial pipework
•    Commercial chimney requirements and Clean Air Act
•    Ventilation requirements for commercial appliances
•    Operation of forced draught burners
•    Commission, service, repair and breakdown of indirect fired boilers and warm air heaters
•    Commission, service, repair and breakdown of overhead radiant tube heaters and radiant plaque heaters
•    Commission, service, repair and breakdown of direct fired appliances
•    Commercial appliance and pipework controls
•    Combustion analysis of commercial appliances
•    Installation, tightness & strength testing and purging of commercial gas pipework
Commercial catering
There are common elements between commercial heating and catering, namely pipework. Where the differences lie, is in appliances. The catering sector has very specific equipment – from hot plates to gas deep fat fryers – hence the need for an assessment route of its very own. Changeover options are available for both domestic heating engineers and commercial installers, and catering modules can be taken for each group of catering appliances.
For qualified installers, it’s a market that is likely to see a boost following talks of a clampdown on the huge amount of illegal work by unqualified people. The gas industry is urging environmental health officials to be more vigilant when it comes to checking catering appliances checking to see if the establishments have the appropriate gas safety certificates. Should more stringent checks be enforced, Gas Safe Registered engineers will be called upon to bring badly-maintained equipment up to standard.
New entrants
If you do not hold a recognised qualification but have relevant experience, such as working alongside a Gas Safe Registered engineer, you may be eligible for a new entrant or Approved Prior Learning (APL) programme. This covers in-depth training on all aspects of core commercial gas safety and is recognised by ACS as a managed learning programme for those wishing to become Gas Safe Registered.
The commercial APL route requires candidates to demonstrate experience and knowledge in the sector or a related industry. Examples of this experience could be working for a commercial company installing pipework or maintaining plant.  In addition to classroom training, APL candidates are required to put together a portfolio of their work alongside a registered engineer.
With bigger kit and dedicated plant rooms, the commercial sector may deliver more exciting prospects for installers looking for different and more varied challenges. It’s not all rosy however; be prepared for night-time working and pressurised environments – multiple occupants, hundreds in the case of schools and hotels, for example, requiring safe and working gas equipment.