Should I hire a plumber, a heating engineer or a gas safe registered engineer?

What’s the difference between a plumber and a heating engineer – and who should you call when you need an appliance repaired in your home? These two professions require different qualifications and involve different tasks, so the decision about who to call should be based on the technical skill required for the job at hand.

Technically, the main point of difference between a plumber and a heating engineer concerns their level of qualifications and training. To become a plumber, you don’t actually require any form of qualification. Lots of unqualified plumbers are currently working up and down the UK. Whilst they may be really good at various plumbing tasks, you should not hire them to fix your gas boiler.

Heating engineers however tend to have a qualification in a relevant course either city and Guilds or an NVQ.

A Gas Safe Registered engineer needs to complete a qualification with Gas Safe and are the ONLY ones who should be working on your gas appliances.

Heating Engineers

As the name suggests, heating engineers focus on work related to domestic and commercial heating systems. There’s still a lot of variety even within this field: from fixing radiators to preparing pipework ready for a boiler to be installed.


Plumbers can have even greater variety in their work than heating engineers. Even in a domestic setting, a day’s work for a plumber could include installing and fixing domestic appliances, cutting and joining pipes, and unblocking drains. Gas Safe-registered workers can add the installation and maintenance of gas boilers and central heating systems to this list.

Gas Safe Registered Engineers

Gas Safe Registered Engineers also focus on work related to domestic and commercial heating systems. However unlike heating engineers they are able to deal with every aspect of the installation or repair as they are qualified to work with gas.

Can someone be a heating engineer and a plumber?

Yes, absolutely. In many cases plumbers are also qualified heating engineers, but you do need to check the tradesperson’s skills and experience before you hire them. Here at Tri-Counties Heating, we have in-depth plumbing know-how as well as being Gas Safe registered heating engineers. So whatever you need, we can help!

By law, the heating engineer must be Gas Safe registered if they’re going to be working on gas-fired appliances and hold OFTEC certification for working on oil boilers. You can check that a company is on the Gas Safe register by searching their company name or registration number on the Gas Safe register website. As well as this, you should also ask to see the Gas Safe ID card of the heating engineer when they arrive at your property. Never let anyone begin work on your boiler before seeing this ID card

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