Author Archives: Paul

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Burning your Christmas Tree – is it safe?

Category:Safety Tags : 

Well Christmas is well and truly over, but how many of you still have your dead Christmas tree hanging about waiting to be disposed of? Perhaps you are thinking that burning it will be a lot easier than dragging it into the car and down to the tip? Unfortunately burning your Christmas tree is not such a good idea.

The needles and branches of fir trees contain substances which have a very high energy content, if you burn these in your fireplace or wood burner it could lead to a chimney fire. The trunk is not quite as risky, however you do need to dry this wood out completely in order for it to be safe to burn. For more details on drying your firewood read my blog

It is also worth bearing in mind that fir wood (also pine and spruce) creates a lot of creosote which can built up inside your chimney and cause fires


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Your Festive Fireplace

Category:Safety Tags : 

The image of a beautiful fireplace dressed for Christmas with boughs of holly and ivy and stockings hung with care is a well known Christmas staple, but are you aware that your seasonal decorations could be a fire risk! Here are some tips to help you stay safe over Christmas

 

  • Your Christmas tree should be at least 3 feet away from your fireplace.
  • Ensure your real tree is watered regularly to prevent it drying out and causing more fire risk
  • If you are placing candles on your mantle ensure they are always supervised and extinguished correctly
  • When dressing your mantle with greenery ensure the boughs do not drape in front of the opening
  • If hanging stockings ensure they do not block the opening and where possible use non-flammable materials
  • Use a fire guard to prevent sparks dropping on to your festive fireplace adornments

Yes the fireplace in this image is an accident waiting to happen!


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Keeping your fireplace safe for all the family

Category:Safety Tags : 

If you don’t have children then although fireplace safety is still and issue it is not as difficult as it is for those who do, but at Christmas little visitors are much more likely, so here are some tips to keep little ones safe around your fire

 

  1. Get a fire safety gate that you can put up when smaller family members visit.
  2. As Christmas presents get unwrapped do not burn the paper in the fireplace – coloured papers can release toxic fumes when burnt
  3. Don’t keep your Christmas gifts too close to the fire
  4. Make sure you take the time to carefully explain the dangers of the fire to little visitors

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How often should you have your chimney swept?

Category:Chimneys Tags : 

As the evenings start to draw in and the weather gets chillier a nice warm, cosy fire sounds really good, but if you haven’t had your chimney swept all through summer then you really need to get this done before you start your first fire of the season.

 

If you burn smoke-less fuel, then it will be fine to have your chimney swept once a year at this time. However if you burn wood or bituminous housed coal then we would advise having it swept twice a year, once at the beginning of the burning season and once at the end.

 

Remember to get it booked in good time, as this is our busiest time of year!


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Bin that Ash

Category:Safety Tags : 

How often do you clean out the ash? Once a week, once a month, once a season? Our advice is to remove the ash after each burning. Hot or cooling ash can be a fire and carbon monoxide hazard. Here are our tips for cleaning out your ash

 

  • Let ash cool for sufficient time after a fire and keep your stove door closed
  • Use appropriate equipment, including safety gloves
  • Use a galvanised steel or metal ash can or bucket that can be sealed to collect the ash
  • Take your time to avoid spreading ashes across the room
  • Carefully transport the container outside of your home
  • Dispose in a designated area
  • Do not collect ash in a bucket in your home for any period of time

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Where should I stack my wood?

Category:Wood Tags : 

Although it may be very attractive from an interior design point of view, the best place to stack your fire wood is not neatly piled up next to your stove. This can be very dangerous and there have been cases of the stacked firewood igniting!

In Oct 2018 a house fire occurred in Dorchester due to logs being stacked too close to the wood burner.

Your wood burner’s operating instructions should give a minimum distance for combustible materials, but we would advise at least 3 feet.


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DR21 Vent featured on Dragons Den

Category:Safety Tags : 

We were very excited to see fellow HETAS registered installer David Gattie featured on Dragon’s Den recently, although they were not successful their new vent solution is very innovative and has been approved by HETAS.

 

The DR21 Air Vent uses a labyrinth baffling system which regulates air slow. It ensures there is enough air flow for a stove to burn efficiently, but does not cause annoying drafts in your room. Unfortunately this side effect causes some people to block standard air vents, which is a real safety concern.

 

We wish David all the best with his new product and are hoping to use the DR21 Air Vent on a new installation soon.


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What are the symptoms of CO poisoning?

Category:Safety Tags : 

Carbon Dioxide is a colourless, odourless gas which is extremely poisonous. CO has result which your solid fuel burner is malfunctioning or even from burning the fuel incorrectly. If you have a solid fuel burner or fire in your open it is advisable to be familiar with the symptoms of CO poisoning, which are

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Chest Pains
  • Stomach Pains
  • Visual Problems

If you suspect that CO is escaping from your combustion appliance or your CO alarm goes off follow these steps

  • Turn the appliance off
  • Open doors and windows for ventilation
  • Leave the building and wait for the air to clear
  • If you feel unwell, go to the doctor or hospital
  • Before you use the appliance contact an approved HETAS Registered Installer (like us)
  • Do not use the appliance until you are told it is safe

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Are you checking your CO Alarm?

Category:Safety Tags : 

Carbon Monoxide is an extremely poisonous gas that can be present in the fumes of wood, gas, oil or biomass fuels which is not burnt correctly. The gas is colourless and odourless making it difficult to detect.

If you have a solid fuel burner you must have a CO alarm fixed is a permanent position in the same room as the appliance. As a registered HETAS installer we are fully aware of the all of the regulations regarding positioning your CO alarm.

We recommend testing your CO Alarm every week and we would also suggest that you familiarise yourself with the symptoms of CO poisoning (Read Carbon Monoxide Poisoning)


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Birds in your Chimney

Category:Chimneys Tags : 

It is obviously inconvenient to have birds nesting in your chimney, but it can also be very dangerous as a blockage can cause carbon dioxide to come in to your room.

Another issue is that under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is an offence to remove a nest whilst the birds are nesting. Luckily nesting season is from March – August, so unless we have a very cold Spring and Summer you are unlikely to be lighting your fire.

Birds that nest in chimneys are quite large (often jackdaws) and therefore the nest is much larger than you might see in a bush or tree. It’s important that you have a professional remove the nest because

  1. It’s a very dirty job
  2. Professionals have the right equipment to seal the chimney and remove the nest with as little disruption as possible
  3. Standard sweeping rods will be unlikely to remove the whole nest
  4. How will you know if you got it all? Out CCTV equipment ensures complete removal
  5. You’ll need a bird guard fitting otherwise they’ll be back next year!

If you haven’t had a bird nest in your chimney, but you don’t have a bird guard, we can sort that out for you too.