Smokey fireplace

13 Jan 2012
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United Kingdom
we have installed an original cast iron fireplace insert (an arched surround and fireback, with grate for solid fuel) but it continually smokes and is un-useable. (There was a badly fitted woodburner there before which stuck out too far into the small room)

We sealed it and backfilled with rubble, the chimney has been swept and opening a window to allow for more draught doesn't help.

We have now taken it out again to investigate further, and noticed that there is no throat forming lintel at all, the flap on the fireback opens into quite a big space and we wonder if this might be the problem?

If you install an insert such as ours, do you still need to create a throat?

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You should be aware that installing a wood burner or removing one & reinstating/re-commissioning an open fire is controlled building work, governed by several building regulations. The work should either be undertaken by a registered HETAS installer or notified to your LABC under a Building Notice & inspected & tested to obtain the necessary compliance certificate. No compliance certificate may lead to difficulties both when you come to sell your property or in the event of a problem; your insurance company may invalidate your policy & reject any claim.

You obviously have problems with the design &/or construction of the fire opening & possibly the flue itself. If you’ve no knowledge or experience I would advise you to consult a registered installer. There is also the safety of yourself & your family to consider; here is some sobering reading for you:
Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your concern. People do install their own fireplaces, so I thought it might be a possibility.

Thank You for the information
Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your concern. People do install their own fireplaces, so I thought it might be a possibility.

Thank You for the information

people do install their own and people also end up in hospital because of it...please get someone in to correct whats wrong...
as mentioned must be hetas..

problem you may have is that down the line if you were to sell the house the new owners may ask to see the legal paperwork for the fire which you would have to produce - which you obviously cant.
you would then struggle to find a hetas engineer who would want to put a warrinty on a fire thats been fitted/tampered/botched with...most will simply walk away from it as its their name against it etc..
I worked for 8 years in this industry and its its frightening what people think is accetable when it comes to fitting a fire of any sorts..

please get a pro in.
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People do install their own fireplaces, so I thought it might be a possibility.
You can DIY an open fire or stove install & many successfully do but;

• you need to understand what your doing
• understand the (several) Building Regs to which it must comply - these changed in October 2010
• submit a Building Notice to your LABC & pay a (not insignificant) fee

Your LABC will then inspect the work as it progresses &, assuming everything is OK, issue a compliance certificate; the BI may also want to witness smoke & spillage tests.

As stated, no compliance certificate may lead to difficulties when you come to sell your property but the bigger risk (apart from suffocating yourself) is your insurance company may invalidate your policy & reject any claim if you cannot produce a compliance certificate in the event of a problem.

Taking all this into consideration, it may be easier to get at least 3 quotes from your local independent (not stove store based) HETAS installers; You might be pleasantly surprised at the cost competitiveness when you factor in the LABC fee. Also ask yourself if you really want all the hassle & risk getting it wrong &, if your flue needs lining, climbing onto the roof with a 6” diameter x 8M long stainless steel snake on your back is not for the feint hearted! Incidentally I’m not a HETAS installer & don’t have anything to gain by pushing them. Although I’ve worked with several, I only get involved with initial building works & decorative finishing off such as plastering (which must use heat proof materials) & tiling etc. after the stove/fire has been installed & commissioned.
RichardC, I think it's about time we make your post a sticky, don't know where about though! Only Admin can do this if you send them a note
This has been suggested before & probably a good idea but I think it needs a bit of tweaking & updating; I’ll contact Admin & see what I can do. ;)
Message received and understood. I've got some hetas guys coming around this week to have a look and gives us some quotes.

All I need now is some money!

Big useless hole in the wall it is then...

Thank You for your replies - Even though it wasn't what I wanted to hear - it has pushed me in the right direction.


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