Bubble Testers on Boats

Bubble Testers On UK Boat LPG Installations

Welcome to our blog post concerning bubble testers on boats in the UK. There is a lot of contradicting information out there when it comes to bubble testers in marine installations. This post is aimed to clear up the myths, explain the rules and requirements, and show the function of these safety devices.

Bubble Tester

For quotes and bookings call 07846 274 926 or email marineheatingsolutions@gmail.com

What Is A Bubble Tester and How Does It Work?

A bubble tester is a device that lets you test the LPG installation on your boat for leaks. This should be installed in the gas locker, where you can use it to test your gas pipes for leaks when you change the bottle or when the system hasn’t been in use for a while. Boat LPG systems are exposed to a lot more movement, vibrations, and stresses than other gas installations and should be tested more frequently. We have recorded this short video to illustrate the use of a bubble tester.

To use the bubble tester, make sure all your gas appliances are switched off and any pilot lights are out. Open your gas bottle. Depress the red button on the bubble tester for two minutes and watch out for any bubbles showing in the liquid vial. With all appliances switched off, there should be no gas flowing and no bubbles should appear. If you see bubbles when there shouldn’t be any, this would indicate a leak. You should then contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to investigate further. Turn the gas supply off at the bottle until the engineer tells you that it’s safe to use.

Are Bubble Testers Required By Law?

Marine LPG installations should comply with the current standard BS EN ISO 10239. On most inland waterway boats the gas installation is many years old and would have been fitted before this standard was written. For these boats, not having a bubble tester would be a fault classified as Not To Current Standard (NTCS). For faults classified as NTCS, a gas engineer would normally advise the boat owner to update the installation to the current standard if they wish to do so.

Gas Safe

For new installations, all systems should be fitted with an easy means for the boat owner to self-test them. This could be a high-pressure gauge or a bubble tester. If this isn’t done the fault is still classified as NTCS. Since this doesn’t put the gas installation At Risk or make it Immediately Dangerous, the boat owner cannot be forced to have a bubble tester or gauge installed.

Do I Need A Bubble Tester For A BSS Certificate?

No. This has been the subject of many discussions lately. There have been contradicting opinions and tales of what boat owners have been told by their BSS examiner. Feel free to check this with the Boat Safety Scheme if you have any doubts, but the answer to this question is no. There is no need to have a bubble tester installed on your boat.

BSS -Boat Safety Scheme Examiner - Certificates

To explain this further: There are two types of BSS examiners for privately owned liveaboard vessels. Those who are Gas Safe registered and those who are not. In the UK, any person carrying out “work” on a gas installation must be Gas Safe registered. To carry out a tightness test as part of the BSS examination on a boat without a bubble tester, the examiner would need to open the gas line at the test point fitting. This is classified as “work” under gas safety legislation and therefore the examiner will need to be Gas Safe registered to do so. There is no need to open the gas line when tightness testing the LPG line with a bubble tester. This is then not classified as “work” and can be done by examiners who are not Gas Safe registered.

When weighing up the costs of having a bubble tester installed against the convenience of not having to find a Gas Safe registered BSS examiner, you need to consider that bubble testers need servicing periodically, which is best done by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

When Does My Bubble Tester Need Servicing?

Bubble testers need servicing regularly. The liquid should be topped up when the level gets too low. The liquid should also be changed every 5 years, or before then if it is discoloured. BSS examiners, whether they are Gas Safe registered or not, cannot use bubble testers if the liquid isn’t clear anymore.

How Do I Install A Bubble Tester?

Bubble testers are installed in your LPG cylinder locker. They sit in the gas line just after the regulator hose and before the gas pipe. There are lots of safety considerations and legal requirements when working on boat gas installations. This work should only be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer with LPG and Boat qualifications.

For quotes and bookings call 07846 274 926 or email marineheatingsolutions@gmail.com


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