Keeping a flue clean & safe is important. If left it can lead to smokiness & a smell in the room, more seriously it can cause a chimney fire.
We recommend the following.
- Woodburners, quarterly when in use.
- Solid fuel, at least once a year.
- Coal fires, at least twice a year.
- Gas & oil annually.
It is recommended that chimneys in regular use in the winter months should be swept at least once a year when using smokeless fuels and after three months use when burning bituminous coal or logs. This is especially important for wood burning stoves as a chimney fire could burn out a flue liner.
DECORATIVE GAS FIRES
If the gas fire is in an open fireplace then it is recommended it is swept every year. This is not to remove soot but house dust that has got drawn up the chimney and possibly bird droppings that have come down.
If an open fireplace has a good solid surround the sweep can use strong tape to stick a special sheet with a sleeve on it through which go the rods to push the brush up the chimney. A clean dust sheet covers the floor with another sheet on top giving two layers of protection.
A special vacuum cleaner is used to catch some of the soot and to control the air pressure inside the sheet to prevent a blow out. Depending on the fuel used and the previous use of the chimney there is often not even a smell.
A clear area of about six foot by six foot in front of the fire place and a clear walk way from the door. It is advisable to remove all items from inside the hearth and from the shelf above the fireplace. Any delicate items, baby bedding or washing should be removed from the room. A 13amp electric socket is required.
There are two main tests using smoke.
A Smoke Evacuation Test checks that there is sufficient air coming into the room to allow the products of combustion to go up the chimney. Lots of houses have solid flooring, double glazing and conservatories which cut off the air supply for the fire. A permanent ventilator may be required to provide an air supply.
BUILDING REGULATION TEST NO 1 is required when fitting a new fireplace or appliance to prove that the chimney is not leaking into another room or loft space or even next door! The chimney is filled with non toxic smoke whilst it is covered at the top and the bottom so that a slight pressure builds up. It is then thoroughly examined inside and out to check for leaks. Access is required to all rooms adjoining and above the flue, the loft space and the roof.
In a smokeless zone only fuels approved for use in a smokeless zone can be used. Wood is not an approved fuel but some wood burning stoves are approved. (check the manufacturers specifications).
The deeds to your house should show whether you are in the zone , or ask the council. Very roughly South Croydon towards London is Smoke Controlled, Purley, Coulsdon, Caterham and Warlingham and places further out are not. In these areas wood and bituminous coal can be burnt.
Seasoned logs are those that have been put out to dry for at least a summer .The moisture content of some wood is 80% by weight and needs drying out until it is 20% or less “that’s a lot of drying”!
If the wood is not dry the moisture prevents it burning hot enough to obtain complete combustion. The moisture rising from the fire condenses on the cooler sides of the flue and forms a tar of unburnt volatile matter which later can cause a chimney fire. It is essential that wood is put out to dry not to be kept dry. First cut the logs to size then split them open to allow the air to carry the moisture away from as much surface area as possible. Stack neatly in rows off the ground to let the air in, a pyramid mound of logs is not good.
A barn type structure, roof with open sides to let air in and rain out, will speed drying.
Leaving logs un cut and not split will slow drying. Putting logs in an unventilated building, bin or coal bunker will slow or prevent drying.
Covering with a tarpaulin will slow or prevent drying. When logs are dry and ready put them in a dry ventilated place.
The best logs to buy are the kiln dried ones. Do not compare the price of these with “farm gate “logs as these are really the best and will give you more heat for less logs per fire and no tar!
Not all trees are suitable for fire wood, evergreens should be avoided due to high resin content and spitting.
GOOD WOODS = Beech, Ash, Apple, Cherry, Oak, Thorn, Birch , Pear.
BAD WOODS = Fir, Spruce, Chestnut, Poplar, Willow, Holly.