Safety with Stoves / Open Fires / Chimneys

Carbon Monoxide ( co )

What is CO poisoning?

Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous colourless and odourless gas that can be present in the fumes from the combustion of fuels which aren’t burnt under the correct conditions, ( poor combustion ) for example, in faulty fossil fuel appliances or where there are chimney problems.

While most people associate CO with gas, fuels such as oil, paraffin, coal, petrol and wood all have the potential to emit CO if burned in faulty or unmaintained appliances. CO cannot be seen and has no smell of its own and it can be very dangerous. For solid fuel and wood burning appliances, if the room is filling with smoke or fumes, action is required immediately”.

CO poisoning occurs when too much is inhaled. The most common instances are linked to heating appliance malfunctions and lack of servicing or chimney sweeping which means the CO filters back into the property, exposing the inhabitants. CO prevents oxygen from being carried around the body, causing sufferers to experience flu-like symptoms and in the worst case, injury or death.”

Symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Chest and/or stomach pains
  • Erratic behaviour and/or visual problems
  • Flu like symptoms

Getting your chimney swept and your appliance checked regularly is key to preventing Carbon Monoxide.

Protect yourself from CO

First and foremost, if you don’t have a CO alarm already – buy one today. Good ones can be picked up from around £15 or you can order them directly from us at WightSweep. The device will detect any signs of the gas and allows you to react quickly. However, the key to prevention is regular servicing of your heating appliances by a registered competent person. Registered Installers and Approved Sweeps are trained to spot any problems which could lead to CO poisoning.

Ensure you and your family are protected

  • Have your appliance serviced and cleaned regularly by a Registered Installer or Approved Chimney Sweep.
  • Ensure your chimney is kept clear by having it swept at frequent intervals by a Approved Chimney Sweep
  • Make sure the installation complies with Building Regulations Part J
  • Fit an audible CO alarm in the same room as the appliance, on the ceiling at least 300mm from any wall OR as high up as possible but not within 150mm of the ceiling AND between 1m and 3m horizontally away from the appliance
  • Test alarms regularly

Actions to take in a CO Emergancy

If you suspect fumes are escaping from your combustion appliance into your home, smoke begins to fill the room, or your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, turn the appliance off immediately and open doors and windows to ventilate the building. Leave the building immediately and don’t return until your appliance or boiler has extinguished and the air in the room is clear.

Before you reuse the appliance, have it serviced by a Registered Installer and the chimney swept by a Approved chimney sweep.

To purchase a CO alarm or for free advice, contact Andy at Wight Sweep Chimney Sweeping on 07521 399376

Chimney Fires

What causes a Chinney Fire?

If your chimney is not kept clean then flammable deposits can build up to the level where they can ignite. Obviously not sweeping your chimney regularly is one cause, but you also increase the level of deposits if you slow burn your stove, if you "turn it down for the night" also known as Slumbering or if you burn wet wood. Once alight the fire then spreads up the chimney, and it can get very hot, over 1000ºC. How to tell if you have a chimney fire - You will often hear a roaring noise in the chimney, especially with an open fire. Outside masses of smoke will be pouring out of the chimney. Also Sparks or even Flames can be seen exiting the chimney terminal.

In the event of a Chimney Fire

  • 1. Call the Fire Service – Dial 999 and give clear information . Don’t Panic . Most Chimney Fires stay contained to the Flue . The Fire Service have specialist Chimney Fire equipment to deal with Chimney Fires including ChimFex – ChimStop
  • 2. If you have a stove then shut all air vents and flue dampers to reduce the chimney fire's oxygen supply
  • 3. If you have an open fire then gently splash water on it to extinguish the fire.
  • 4. Move flammable materials, furniture, ornaments away from the fireplace
  • 5. Feel the chimney breast throughout the house - if it is getting hot then move furniture away from it
  • 6. Do not pour water on the fire if you have a stove
  • 7. Do not pour salt on the fire - this can create chlorine gas which is damaging to the chimney and toxic if it gets into the room
  • 8. Ensure that the fire brigade can access the loft space as they will need to inspect this area

Damage caused by Chimney Fires

Coal soot chimney fires can create temperatures up to 1000 degrees centigrade inside the chimney.
Wood tar chimney fires can create temperatures up to 1200 degrees centigrade inside the chimney.

  • Clay liners: a chimney fire will often cause clay liners to crack and therefore the chimney will possibly need to be relined. It is advisable to have the Flue inspected with CCTV and swept following a Chimney Fire . Contact us for advice
  • Pumice Liners: It is advisable to have the Flue inspected with CCTV following a Chimney Fire in Pumice to check for damage . Contact us for advice
  • Flexible Steel Liners / Twin wall flues: Most flexible liner are rated to approx. 450 degrees centigrade therefore most likely a chimney fire will mean a new liner would be required following a Chimney Fire in a line. Contact us for advice
  • Brick Flues: Always have your Chimney swept and CCTV inspected for damage following any Chimney Fire by an Approved Chimney Sweep.
  • Smoke Damage: It is possible for smoke to breach into the property causing smoke damage to furniture etc.
  • Property Fire: On very rare occasions heat transfer can penetrate the flue causing flammable products / building structure to ignite during a chimney fire. For this reason especially it is always advisable to keep the chimney stack in the loft space clear of combustible material.
  • Insurance: You may be able to claim under your household insurance for damage caused by a Chimney Fire . Contact us for advice.

In all instances Contact Andy at WightSweep on 07521 399376 for advice

Thatch Fires

Dial 999 ASAP . If you were to have a Chimney Fire in your Thatch Property there is a high chance you will lose your home.

Once a fire is in the Thatch it is almost impossible to control. Thatch Fires do burn slowly in the early stages and this can allow time for salvage of internal property / personal possessions. Thatch fires are typically attended by in excess of 50 firefighters, at least eight appliances and often for over 24 hours.

The ignition Temperature of a thatch is Just 220 deg.C

Thatch is designed to repel water therefore once on fire simply pouring water on it has little effect. For this reason it is advisable not to delay in the process of removing household items.

Further advice can also be found on the National Society of Master Thatchers website

See also Dorset Model for thatch advice


Most Insurance companies recommend sweeping the chimney at least twice a year with periodical CCTV inspection and require Certificates of chimney sweeping to keep Insurance valid.
WightSweep are APICS approved Chimney Sweep and issue a Certificate of Sweeping to all chimneys swept

Insuring Thatch is expensive. Approx 4 times the cost of a standard household insurance. There are Many Insurance Companies for Thatch and can be very competitive.
Examples not limited to:

For further information relating to Thatch Fire Contact Andy at WightSweep 07521 399376

We abide by the highest standards

You can be rest assured the work you have carried out is of quality and high standard.
Wight Sweep are members of the largest associations in the market.

183 Fairlee Rd,
Isle of Wight
PO30 2EW

(01983) 533 057
07521 399 376

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