Sale of flueless water heaters to be banned, but use permitted

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 April, 1999, 12:00am

The sale of flueless water heaters is to be banned from early next year.

But consumers would still be allowed to use the devices if they are already installed in kitchens.

Dr Raymond Ho Chung-tai, a member of the Gas Safety Advisory Committee that approved the ban yesterday, said there were reasonable grounds.

'We only see the sale of 1,200 units of such water heaters each year, which shows these water heaters are not popular anymore.' Legislators and engineers agreed the heaters could be dangerous, Dr Ho said.

A Hong Kong and China Gas Company survey showed 59,000 of the heaters were still in use in kitchens. The number would be reduced by 75 per cent in five years through natural elimination.

Electrical and Mechanical Services Department acting Director Leung Cham-tim said accidents should be avoided if the heaters were used correctly.

'So far we don't have any figure which shows fatal accidents that are related to the correct usage of flueless water heaters in the kitchen.' The heaters can kill by carbon-monoxide poisoning if used in an unventilated room.

Despite official notification of safe usage procedures, 'sometimes this message just doesn't get across to the elderly and the young ones, who are usually the victims,' Mr Leung said.

The committee banned the use of flueless water heaters in bathrooms in late February, even though installation had been illegal since 1991.

Tougher laws had been called for since the heaters led to the death of a man and a boy in Shekkipmei in mid-January.