New Flue and the white plume....

8 May 2012
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United Kingdom
Hello, I hope you can advise.

My new neighbours who have been very friendly, have recently had their kitchen ripped out, including the old boiler. Their new boiler has been sited on an outside wall...very close to the ADJACENT fence boundary (about 8" away...and sorry all the regs are in mm so I know I am confusing you and myself in not working with metric measurements!) and also close to their opening kitchen doors...(patio doors.)

All boilers in this row of houses have their flues going through the single storey roof above, so the discharge to any neighbouring property isn't a problem. However, not only is this flue fitted close to a boundary fence and opening doors, the prevailing wind means it discharges the white plume straight into my garden. It's like having someone let an exhaust run over my fence...the view of my garden is now beyond this plume....and in all the years I have lived here (30)I have enjoyed the peace and greenery of my garden.

I mentioned it to the neighbours and all they seemed concerned about was whether it had been sited legally. They called out their fitter (Gas Safe registered) and when I asked him why the flue didn't discharge above the roof he said a) you cannot fit flues through the roof any longer.(You can if they have an inspection hatch created - which would be easily done given the back of these houses is single storey) and b) even if he installed a plume management kit, (my suggestion) the wind would still carry the plume into my he more or less said "Tough, it's fitted in accordance to manufacturers instructions, it's legal, it's the fault of the wind.." and left it at that.

He kept stating the minimum measurments required for a flue FACING a boundary line...not an adjacent boundary. My house is situated just set back from theirs (they are staggered at the back) but the plume discharges straight over the fence, collects and swirls on my patio right in front of my windows before disappearing. The neighbour said "It's only steam" but my point is, even if it were bubbles or fairy dust, why should it blow into my garden? Why should I have the nuisance of it?

I don't think it does comply with building regs because of the nearness to both an adjacent boundary, their opening back door and because it is fitted underneath the over hanging eaves. There is very little clearance...Not only that it is wetting their guttering, down pipes and the boundary fence.

In terms of THEIR health and safety it seems very wrong too.

I asked for advice from the local authority building department and they referred me to the regs (including diagrams and measurements) regarding the sitings of flues and told me if a Gas Safe engineer has done the job it's not for them to take up such problems. They also directed me to Environmental Health offices.

I suppose my problem is...I don't know if I am right about the required measurements from eaves, boundaries, opening doors etc..Who could tell me if the flue is legally sited?

I don't want to fall out with the new people...but I have found this all very upsetting and it's like my privacy has been invaded. I need to know my grounds before I make a fuss I suppose. Gas Safe, on their 'complaints' site need to know about the fitter and his company etc..and I don't want to have him investigated if he is right and I am wrong. It all seems a bit official and I could just come across as a Not In My Back Yard intolerant middle-aged female householder.

I feel like selling up and moving away. I find things like this very upsetting.

Thanks for any advice you can give me.
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If it is fitted in accordance with, and complies to all the current requirements, then there is very little you can do. Why not post a picture with the relevant distances and we could offer a second opinion. If you are unable to post, get some assistance.
Gas fitting regulations are not the be-all and end-all, the law says you cannot cause a nuisance.

I have no idea whether this is a nuisance (as far as the law is concerned), so get some of your friends round and see what they think.

It could also be the weather we are having, when it gets sunny and you want to enjoy the garden then the visible plume could easily just go away. They won't have the heating on as much then too.

It's almost certainly not immediately dangerous.
When it gets sunny, you should be telling your neighbour to turn off his new boiler and get into a beer garden.
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Generally the discharge point should be at least 2.5 m away in the direction of discharge.

To say it only needs to be 600 mm away is showing the installer's ignorance. Thats the distance from an opposite wall.

I am sure it could have been fitted with a vertical flue. Thats a bit more expensive though.

If you made the complaint logically and correctly then they would probably have to fit it vertically. They should have discussed this with you beforehand.

You can make a complaint to Gas Safe but the EHO have more powers!

You will have much more chance of meaningful advice here if you post a picture ;)

Thanks for all your replies chaps...much appreciated.

The bloke next door is a DIY nut and hasn't been working this week. He has been doing a lot of hammering and drilling though...every day, all day long, and I am trying to be tolerant. I'll have to sneak out there to the fence boundary when he is not about, but I will post pictures soon and would really appreciate your thoughts.

Many thanks.
A flue can be installed in accordance with Building Regulations and Manufacturer's Instructions but the fumes from them can still be a Statutory Nuisance with a fine of up to £5,000.

See Approved Document J Paragraph 3.23 and the Guide to the Condensing Boiler Installation Assessment Procedure for Dwellings Chapter 6, which specifies a minimum of 2.5m from a boundary facing the terminal.

It all depends on the relative locations of the flue and your boundary.

The Environmental Health department of your local council are the people to talk to.

The neighbour said "It's only steam"
What happened to the Carbon Dioxide (and Carbon Monoxide if it's not burning correctly)?

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