British Gas engineers found 26,000 unsafe or dangerous gas or electrical appliances in homes they visited in the first seven months of this year.
There were hazardous appliances in one in 20 homes they visited, with boilers and cookers the most common culprits.
Faulty appliances can cause shocks, fires, explosions, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide poisoning, which can injure, sicken, and even kill residents and cause significant property damage.
Lauren Vazquez, engineer and safety expert for British Gas, said: “Our engineers are in and out of homes around the country every day, checking that customers’ electricity is safely wired and testing all gas appliances to make sure they’re safe.
“We regularly visit customers who haven’t had their electrical wiring or gas appliances checked in 10 to 20 years, which is a concern.
“Some of the unsafe appliances we’ve come across could have had a devastating effect on our customers’ health and safety, had we not identified them.”
British Gas has released the warning in conjunction with Gas Safety Week (16-22 September), run by the Gas Safe Register
To mark the annual campaign, the UK’s largest energy company also commissioned a survey which queried consumers about their safety practices in the home.
The survey found that while many are concerned about the dangers of faulty appliances and wiring, most aren’t taking the proper precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.
Of the 3,050 respondents, two-thirds are actively worried about the safety of the appliances in their home. Despite this, more than half don’t test their appliances as often as manufacturers advise.
Two-thirds admit to using an appliance they knew was faulty, and half have received an electric shock from an appliance. A tenth would use an appliance even if they’d seen it spark.
The average British household was found to have three broken electrical devices in their home, including toasters, lights, laptops, and even boilers.
Smart meters can identify excessive energy consumption, a sign of malfunctioning devices, and may help households isolate and identify faulty gadgets and appliances. However, more than half (54%) of respondents weren’t aware of this use of the next-generation gas and electricity meters.
British Gas is also calling on Britons to ensure they have working carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. They have also been told to be aware of the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
“You can’t hear it, see it, taste it or smell it, and it kills around 30 people a year – but fortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable,” Vazquez added.
Faulty central heating systems and boilers are the most common sources of carbon monoxide and should be checked and serviced by a trained engineer once a year.
Signs of a carbon monoxide leak include soot or black marks around an appliance, such as a boiler or cooker. If the flame in a boiler appears lazy and yellow/orange rather than crisp and blue, this could also be a sign, as well as gas fires that are difficult to light.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include tension-type headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, tiredness, confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
If you suspect you’re experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, open all windows and doors in the property, and switch off the appliances. Evacuate the home and stay outside, and avoiding lighting matches or switching on lights. Seek out immediate medical advice and contact the Gas Emergency Service by phoning 0800 111 999. They should send dispatch an engineer to the property within an hour.