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- Building regulations & HETAS
The installation of a solid fuel appliance (stove) is subject to Building Regulations, which specify the requirements that must be met by both the appliance and the installation.
HETAS is an independent organisation recognised by Government to approve appliances and register competent engineers and companies to carry out installations.
As a HETAS registered installer we are empowered to certify installations on behalf of our customers, providing the reassurance that their obligations are fully met.
- Flues & Linings
The most frequently asked question when designing an installation is "Do I need my chimney lined?" Only a survey will determine that but as far as Building Regulations are concerned you only need to prove that the existing lining is sound.
However, there are a number of reasons why it is usually wise, in most situations, to opt for having a flexible stainless steel liner installed throughout the chimney. To some extent it depends on the age of the property but in any event the existing flue would probably have been built to cater for an open fire. Because modern stoves are around three times more efficient than an open fire the characteristics of flue emissions are very different.
Essentially, modern stoves are designed to work with defined flue diameters, typically 125-150mm. Apart from reduced fuel efficiency, deviation from the manufacturers recommendation can lead to an unnecessary build up of tar together with condensation problems. An annual sweep is recommended – indeed it may well be a condition of the manufacturers guarantee.
It is not permitted to use a single flue to exhaust more than one appliance nor to use a redundant gas liner previously used with a gas appliance.
- Chimney Sweeping
All chimneys that are in use, either regularly or occasionally, should be swept at least once a year. The frequency will depend on a number of factors but generally for smokeless fuels once a year and for wood, quarterly when in use.
An important reason for sweeping is to remove the soot and flammable tar responsible for chimney fires. Many insurance companies will not consider claims made for chimney fires unless a professional sweep, who issues a recognised certificate, has been routinely employed.
Most stove manufacturers will insist on regular sweeping as a condition of their guarantee.
Apart from this a professional sweep will also carry out a flue condition test and provide a written report as part of his certification. It all adds to peace of mind.
- Cleanburn and Airwash
Cleanburn is designed to maximise combustion and reduce emissions. Pre-heated secondary air is introduced into the firebox to burn excess hydrocarbons. This results in more heat being delivered into the room rather than going up the chimney.
Airwash is hot air being directed downwards behind the top of the stove's glass door creating a barrier between the glass and fire. Smoke and combustion particles are kept away from the glass leaving it clear to see through.
- Carbon Neutral
Wood is a renewable source of fuel. As timber grows it absorbs and locks in carbon dioxide (CO2), popularly known as a "greenhouse gas". When wood is burnt it releases this CO2 back into the atmosphere to be reabsorbed by replacement timber growth. Effectively, this recycling of the CO2 has a zero effect on the environment.
- Smoke Control Areas
The Clean Air Act of 1993 designated Smoke Control Areas where only approved fuel may be used, which generally precludes burning wood. However, there are now very many wood burning stoves on the market that are Defra Exempted. These appliances have been independently tested and may safely (and legally) be used to burn seasoned logs in Smoke Control Areas.
- CE mark
The CE mark indicates that an appliance has been independently tested to meet the requirements of BS EN13240 – where BS EN stands for British Standard European Norm.
- Cast Iron or Steel
Wood burning stoves are made principally from cast iron or steel. Steel cased stoves will warm far quicker than cast iron, giving off heat into the room much sooner. Conversely, cast iron will cool far more slowly which is a significant advantage towards the end of the evening.
- Bird Guards
Birds can be a bit of nuisance on the roof and even worse if they decide to nest in the chimney! Any sweep will tell you stories about volumes of dry debris, introduced into flues by jackdaws, just waiting to be set alight by a spark – assuming you haven't been smoked out beforehand. It can also be quite distressing to hear the flapping wings of a bird trapped in the flue.
A simply fitted guard on the chimney pot prevents access should birds consider setting up home or roosting in your flue. They also have the advantage of providing protection from rain.
- Chimney Pot Caps
If a flue is no longer in use it is wise to cap the chimney pot to prevent rain penetration. The rain/freeze cycle can cause structural damage to the chimney. Additionally birds are prevented from entering the flue.
A simply fitted, purpose made cap will answer the need and provide sufficient ventilation to keep the flue dry. However, as a precaution the chimney should be swept before capping to stop any soot from turning into acidic slurry that can cause internal staining.
- Down Draughts & Cowls
Cowls come in many shapes and sizes and are fitted to chimney pots to tackle downdraught problems. Static cowls primarily reduce downdraft whilst spinning cowls create updraft to eliminate downdraught problems.
A downdraught is caused by wind from certain directions blowing down the chimney. Gases and smoke are prevented from rising and escaping into the atmosphere, which can lead to smoke coming back into the room.
Cowls are simply fitted and in most cases will eliminate problems. However, what can be taken as a lack of downdraught might well be diminished ventilation. Lack of sufficient room ventilation can lead to a pressure drop at the fire causing air to be sucked down the chimney.