Keeping Warm – Safely!

Despite experiencing one of the warmest Januarys, local newspapers have reported countless chimney fires during this time.  How many other chimney fires occurred without being reported, or the fire services being involved?  With cold weather now hitting the country how many more will occur as more people light open fires, wood burners and multi fuel stoves?

However, these situations can be avoided.  A little time and attention on your chimney can prevent this.

Specflue Limited are a Sudbury based company who specialise in selling and advising on flue and chimneys from wood/multi fuel stoves and open fires. 

David Ebbs, Specflue’s Technical Manager has specialised in this area for over 22 years and offers these simple safety measures to prevent you from suffering a chimney fire.

  • Proper Maintenance – Have your flue swept annually, (at the very least), by a qualified chimney sweep.  Burning wood can create tar like substances which stick to the inner walls, reducing the diameter and reducing the flow of smoke and gases out of the flue.  A Chimney Cleaning Log burnt a few weeks before the chimney sweep attends will help to get a cleaner sweep. 
  • Correct Installation – Any wood/multi fuel stove or open fire should be installed by a competent person.  HETAS are the official body recognised by the Government to approve biomass and solid fuel domestic heating, fuels and services.  Always ask and check that your installer has the correct HETAS qualifications.  Some local Building Control Officers will attend and sign off work installed by a non-HETAS installer.
  • Correct Fuel – Ensure that you are burning the correct fuels.  Solid fuels should be HETAS approved, wood should be properly seasoned and have a moisture content below 20% (a moisture meter can provide you with this information).  Never be tempted to burn household waste or wet fuels.
  • Correct Operation – Many people buy a property with a stove or open fire, and have no operational instructions on how to use it.  People often use wood stoves with the doors open, as this gives more heat into the room.  What this is actually doing is taking more cool air up into the flue, increasing the deposits within the flue and reducing the diameter.
  • Know Your Temperatures – Unlike a gas fire, you cannot simply turn down the heat from a stove.  Having a flue thermometer attached to the flue pipe above your stove, keeps it within the suggested safe temperatures.  This will also save you money by not ‘over-firing’ and wasting energy/fuel. 
  • Correct Terminal – Different fuels require different terminals.  Small mesh is a requirement for gas fires, but will clog up on wood and solid fuel.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) – Ensure that a CO alarm is fitted in every room where a wood/solid fuel, oil or gas appliance is located.  This simple alarm will emit a siren to warn of CO exposure and is a proven life saver.

People are increasingly looking for greener fuels.  Wood meets this criteria, and nothing beats the homely glow from a wood stove.  Following these simple safety tips should help you avoid the risk of experiencing a chimney fire. 

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