On average in the UK there are 30000 chimney fires in domestic properties each year.
Chimney fires which can burn at temperatures in excess of 1000℃ generally do not stay confined within the flue for long and can quickly affect other areas of the property in number of ways which include:
- The intense heat within the flue causing the lining to fail
- Spreading to structural timbers via a damaged flue lining.
- Smoke percolating through a damaged lining may spread throughout the property leading to extensive damage and danger to life.
- Burning embers from the chimney pot affecting the original property as well as surrounding properties.
What causes chimney fires?
When solid fuels are burnt the emissions are expelled into the chimney. As these gases rise they cool down, forming creosote – a tar like substance that sticks to your chimney or chimney lining. Creosote is extremely flammable and can be lit by even a small spark from the fire below. The following are the most common causes of chimney fires:
- Burning wet or unseasoned wood can increase the production of creosote
- Burning rubbish such as paper and cardboard allows lighted debris to enter the flue
- Blockages in your chimney which restrict air flow
- Smouldering wood embers for long periods of time
- Failing to have your chimney swept often enough
How to tell if you have a chimney fire?
- You will often hear a loud roaring noise in the chimney, especially with an open fire.
- Large volumes of smoke and sparks will be seen issuing from the chimney.
- The fire will work its way up the flue and when it approaches the top you will see flames coming out of the pot
- Following a chimney fire the flue should always be thoroughly inspected and swept.
If you suspect that you have a chimney fire:
- Call the Fire and Rescue service immediately
- Alert other persons who may be in the building
- Evacuate the premises
- Do not go back inside the premises until told that it is safe to do so by the Fire Service
Most chimney fires are preventable simply by regular inspection and clean chimneys don’t catch fire!
We see many very good stove installations each day but equally many very badly installed appliances. Occasionally we come across an appliance that is so dangerous that I have no choice but to place a condemn notice on it to ensure the owner ceases to use it immediately, these are generally installations that have not been carried out by a registered professional.
A bad installation can cause numerous problems but perhaps the most frightening of all is the risk of Carbon Monoxide becoming present in the home, this can cause serious health issues and ultimately may lead to loss of life.
We would always urge anyone who is considering having a solid fuel stove installed to ensure that the work is carried out by a HETAS registered installer giving you the peace of mind that your installation has been carried out in a correct and professional manner. They will always issue you with a certificate of compliance on completion of the install.
A HETAS registered installer will have been trained and will have passed written and practical exams to prove they have the knowledge and skills to perform an installation to the standards required by Building Regulations Approved Document J.