It is important that domestic chimneys and flues are maintained regularly to prevent them from causing smoke problems. There are a number of problems that can occur due to poor maintenance and faults that can develop over a period of time.
Prior to using an old chimney or flue WRS recommend that you have it tested for leaks. It is not uncommon for old chimneys to develop smoke leaks and other forms of degradation over time which may cause problems in the household and the neighbouring property (if the chimney is attached on the party wall).
Prior to use you should ensure that the chimney has not been capped or birds have nested in it over time (if you do not know the history of the property) and there is adequate draft for the chimney to function correctly (modern sealed up houses have insufficient airflow to allow the fire/stove to function properly and a vent may be required). WRS recommend that all chimneys should be swept annually and are fitted with a cowl to prevent downdraft problems, a proprietary fire alarm/carbon monoxide detector should be fitted in the room also. If you have any concerns or wish to re-use an existing chimney place and wish to bring it back into use we recommend that you contact a HETAS registered engineer.
You should also ensure that you burn the correct fuels for your area (see if you are in a smoke control area here). We recommend that timber should be well seasoned and you should avoid burning contaminated wood that has been painted and other materials such as plastics or household waste as these may cause dark smoke and other odour problems to you and your neighbours.
With the increased popularity of wood burners installed in existing properties that have no existing chimney stack the use of stainless steel flues is a popular way of overcoming this problem. However in our experience installations of this type in compliance with Building Regulations do not always guarantee that you will not cause smoke problems to neighboring properties. If you are thinking of installing a wood burner and having a flue installed we strongly recommend that you discuss your plans with WRS to ensure that the installation does not give rise to smoke nuisance and that you use a registered HETAS engineer to undertake the installation.
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Worcestershire Regulatory Services
Wyre Forest House