Montgomery County’s Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection is soliciting comments from all stakeholders regarding the installation and inspection of gas appliances. Recently, a joint investigation by the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) found that a majority of gas appliances installed in Montgomery County during a test period had not been properly inspected following installation.
The regulatory code for gas appliances in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is enforced by WSSC and applies to water heaters, furnaces, ranges, grills, generators, clothes dryers and fireplaces. The WSSC code requires that all gas appliances be installed by a licensed gas plumber/gas fitter after a permit has been obtained. The code further states that an inspection with WSSC must be scheduled within five days of the installation. The failure to have gas appliances inspected in a timely fashion is both a violation of the law and a potential safety hazard.
Following the findings of the recent investigation, the OCP Advisory Committee is seeking comments from all parties and will compile, summarize and make appropriate recommendations to WSSC. Input is being sought from retail business establishments, homeowner’s insurance companies, plumbing/gas fitting contractors, Montgomery and Prince George’s Fire and Rescue Services and consumers.
Questions that the Advisory Committee is seeking answers to include:
• What are some of the reasons that a majority of gas appliances installed in Montgomery County are not being inspected in a timely manner, or at all?
• Should the five day requirement for an inspection be lengthened? Or, should a completed inspection be required before using the appliance?
• What hours and days should WSSC inspectors be available to conduct inspections?
• Should the installer or the customer bear the responsibility for scheduling the inspection within the required time period?
• Should retail stores that sell gas appliances be responsible for insuring that their subcontractor complies with permitting and inspection requirements?
• How are gas appliance installations and inspections regulated in other jurisdictions?
Anyone interested in submitting input regarding this issue can send their comments to the OCP Advisory Committee, 100 Maryland Avenue, Suite 330, Rockville, MD 20850, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments should be sent no later than Friday, December 9.
OCP, the County’s consumer protection agency, investigates thousands of complaints each year involving automotive sales and repairs, new home purchases, home improvements, credit issues, retail sales, internet services and most other consumer transactions. The Advisory Committee on Consumer Protection is comprised of nine members appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. The committee meets monthly and provides advice to OCP in carrying out its duties and functions.
For more information call the Office of Consumer Protection at 240-777-3636.
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