Thursday, 19 December 2013

Technical Guidance on Wood Burning Stoves

Wood Burning Stoves are growing in popularity.  People are looking for an alternative to the ever-rising energy bills being imposed on us by the UK's major energy suppliers.  Modern wood burners offer the warmth and homeliness of traditional log fires whilst providing greater control and requiring less effort to maintain.  Some technologies can even provide an alternative to a home's central heating system. It is no wonder that wood burners are now so popular.

However, many people do not realise just how complicated the installation of a modern wood burning stove can be.  A poorly fitted wood burner will not just lead to problems in its operation, it is also likely to be highly unsafe.

Last year the Energy Saving Trust published A Buyer's Guide to Domestic Wood Fuelled Heating.  This guide provided a useful introduction to wood burning stoves, but provided only limited advice on their installation.

Now, finally, we have an authoritative guide to the installation of wood burning stoves, courtesy of the gurus at Local Authority Building Control (LABC).

The LABC Guide to installing solid fuel stoves (Technical guidance for homeowners and trade) is aimed at trades people who intend to install a wood burning stove in an existing property.

The Guide highlights the following 10 key points for an installer to consider:
  1. Check the existing chimney for condition and obstructions
  2. Ensure components comply with the relevant British Standards
  3. Where possible, adopt a minimum internal flue size of 150mm diameter
  4. Check that the flue outlet is positioned sufficiently high above the roof surface?
  5. Make sure you isolate the flue from any combustible material
  6. Ensure the stove is positioned on a proper non-combustible hearth
  7. Check you have a sufficient air supply for combustion
  8. Provide carbon monoxide alarms
  9. Provide proper permanent notices about the appliance in the property
  10. Ensure you have all formal permissions before starting work
The Guide emphasises the importance of employing a trades person with sufficient skills to undertake the work. Although qualifications are not compulsory, any person fitting a solid fuel stove must be competent to do so. The Guide advises on 2 options for employing an installer:

Option 1: Employ a Competent Persons Scheme certified installer
Some installation companies are registered with the Government’s Competent Persons Scheme. This allows them to install and ‘self-certify’ the stove without having to make a formal application to the Council under the Building Regulations.  The largest Competent Persons Scheme provider is HETAS. Make sure the installer provides you with a certificate of compliance at the end of the job.  You will need this certificate should you come to sell your property.

Option 2:  Employ a knowledgeable trades person and have the job inspected by your Council's Building Control Service
If you appoint a trades person who is not part of a relevant Competent Persons Scheme, then you will need to submit a Building Regulations application to your local Council.  The Council's Building Control Officer will then come out and inspect the job to ensure that the wood burner has been installed safely. If satisfied with the work, the Council's Building Control Officer will issue a completion certificate. As with Option 1, you will need this certificate should you come to sell your property, so do not pay the final bill to your installer until you have this piece of paper in your hands.

Considering installing a wood burning stove?  We would suggest that you start by getting in touch with your local Building Control Service to make sure that your property is suitable.



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