How to Protect Your Customers from Chimney Fires

With 50% of all UK Chimney fires taking place in January, February and March*, heating season brings withProtect Your Customers from Chimney Fires 1 it some dangers. Waxman Heating, distributor of solid fuel stoves, chimney systems and flue accessories advises on the importance of chimney safety.

Installers will be more than aware of the importance of chimney fire safety and understand the need for regular chimney maintenance. The New Year is the perfect time to remind customers to ensure their chimneys are clean and ready to use throughout the rest of Heating Season.

By passing on the following information, installers could help reduce the 5,000 UK chimney fires that are estimated to happen each year:

Chimney Maintenance
The many different types of fuels and appliances now used to heat the home are vast, so understanding the necessary maintenance procedures to take is vital for your customers’ safety and the prevention of chimney fires. Ensure they know how often their chimney should be swept:
- Smokeless Fuels – At Least Once A Year
- Bituminous Coal – At Least Twice A Year
- Wood – Quarterly When In Use
- Oil – Once A Year
- Gas – Once A Year (Refer To Gas Safe Register)

Using The Correct Fuel
The fuel used in a solid fuel appliance must comply with the manufacturers recommended fuel type. If the wrong fuel is used in a stove it will increase the likelihood of tar deposits and debris forming within the flue and chimney – which can lead to chimney fires.

Some appliances are only suitable to burn wood, where others allow various fuels to be burned. Always check the manufacturer’s user guide or instructions to ensure you are aware of the appropriate fuel to use. Furthermore, to reduce the build up of ashy deposits and tar in a wood burning stove, look for a fuel that has 20% moisture content or lower and source it from an accredited supplier.

Using the Appliance Correctly
It is becoming increasingly important to ensure homeowners are using their stoves correctly, as research has shown that carbon emissions can be reduced and efficiency increased by following a few simple standard practices when lighting and maintaining a fire.

It is advisable not to overload the fire in the first instance of lighting it, as this can block up a route for all the smoke to be released, which will mean the fire will soon burn out. Once a fire is lit, it is advisable to close the doors and only use the primary and secondary vents for airflow, by tightening them or loosening them accordingly.

The fire door should never be opened once the fire is lit and roaring, this could cause house fires due to falling embers and also makes the appliance itself less efficient, meaning homeowners could also be wasting fuel.

Protect Your Customers from Chimney Fires 2Understanding clearances to combustibles
It is necessary that installers (and your customers) understand that all appliances are different and no two stoves should be installed the same, as manufacturer guidelines must be considered beforehand; these include recommended clearances.
Because of their highly flammable nature, wood burning and multi-fuel stoves must be fitted in such a way that they do not pose a hazard to the user, hence the need for clearance guidelines. Manufacturers will provide these in user manuals to advise on the safe placement of stoves at installation stage.

Many stoves these days are built with small wood stores integrated within their external frame, to help dry out fuel. These have been built specifically for this purpose, therefore are suitable for running while combustibles are stored. Other stoves, which do not have this function, should not have wood or any other solid fuel stored within the minimum clearance to combustible measurements.

The Correct Installation
Solid fuel stoves should always be installed by a trained professional, such as a HETAS  or OFTEC registered installer, this ensures that appliances are fitted safely and in accordance with industry regulations and standards. This will reduce the instance of chimney fire as the correct procedures have been put in place.

By ensuring an appliance is installed and maintained by a trained professional, homeowners are considering the safety of their family. A certificate of approved installation should always be provided once complete, as well as proof of maintenance; should a chimney fire occur insurers might only pay out upon providing proof.


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