Ban on wood stoves? The truth of it all

No doubt you will have all seen some misleading headlines about a possible ban on wood stoves. Here, we identify the truth behind the headlines and what you can tell customers who might have seen the headlines.

The new strategy, which went out for consultation during August 2018, is a key part of Defra’s 25 Year Plan to leave our environment in a better state than we found it. HETAS and Woodsure have all been consulting with Defra for some time now and once again Defra has clarified they are not looking to implement a ban on wood stoves.

Cleaner Fuels Announcement

On Friday 21st February 2020 Defra announced their response on their cleaner domestic burning of solid fuels and wood consultation. The consultation took place between August and October 2018 and focused on England only.
On the 22nd May 2018 the Environment Secretary Michael Gove published a Clean Air Strategy 2018 which aims to cut air pollution and save lives, backed up through new primary legislation. What does the strategy say and how will it impact you and your customers?

The Clean Air Strategy summarises actions to reduce emissions from domestic burning, clearly identifying there is no intention to ban wood burning stoves. Here are the key points:

  1. Legislate to prohibit sale of the most polluting fuels.
  2. Ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022.
  3. Give new powers to local authorities to take action in areas of high pollution, bringing legislation into the 21st century with more flexible, proportionate enforcement powers.
  4. Work with industry to identify an appropriate test standard for new solid fuels entering the market.
  5. Ensure that consumers understand what they can do to reduce their impact from burning.

The strategy also suggests Defra will give local authorities powers to go further in areas of high pollution, for example exploring what further steps government can take to enable local authorities to encourage ‘no burn days’ during high-pollution episodes.

Do I need to line my chimney?

The answer is often yes. Whilst there is no regulation requiring every existing chimney to be lined your installer must satisfy themselves that the chimney is free from defects and suitable for its intended use.

If any work undertaken on the chimney, including installation of a new liner, is done in conjunction with the installation of a heating appliance, then that the work is a controlled service and must be undertaken by a competent person or approved by your local area building control.

Chimneys are lined for a number of safety reasons. New chimneys may require relining to suit the fuel type being used (a gas flue liner may not be suitable for other fuels). Chimney systems that predate 1965 will often require a modern lining solution for the following reasons:

  • The flue may have lost integrity and can leak smoke into rooms or other part of the building
  • Condensates or tar can seep through chimney walls causing staining, inside or outside of the building
  • Lining with insulation included improved the operation of the appliance and flue – particularity important when the chimney is situated on an external wall
  • Defective flue systems may be eroded and rough. Thus will cause frictional resistance to the flow of the gases resulting in poor up draught
  • Large flues over 200mm, particularly ones containing voids, may affect appliance performance. Some appliance manufacturers specify smaller flues for efficient operation
Can I install my stove myself and then get it approved?

It is never OK to install a stove and not tell anyone. It is a legal requirement that either a registrant of a Competent Person self-certification scheme is used (and notifies the work via their scheme to the Local Authority); or a Building Notice is applied for from your Local Authority Building Control Dep’t prior to installation (there is a Building Control fee for their service). We strongly recommend the installation is carried out be a HETAS registered installer to ensure the installation is safe and complies with relevant Building Regulations and Standards. The certificate of compliance will be needed if or when you move home.

Can any property have a stove?

Within reason any property may be suitable irrespective of whether a chimney is present. In most properties without an existing chimney a system chimney may be installed as opposed to building a new masonry chimney and may run within the property or externally providing it is safe to do so. It would be good practise to seek an appraisal from your local HETAS registered installer.

I’m buying a property with a stove, what do I need to do?

Any solid fuel appliance fitted since April 2005 will require a document called Certificate of Compliance. Check if the chimney has been swept and the appliance services. If not, have both of these things done.

Click the following link to read more:

The certificate of compliance is normally provided by your solicitor, from the previous homeowner, during the purchasing/conveyancing process. If you have not received this document, please contact your solicitor or Contact us for future support.

How to light fire safely

Wood Burning Stove
Lighting your stove in the most effective way could take a little bit of practise, but the following steps are a good guideline to follow:

  1. Fully open the primary air vent/control and air wash controls
  2. Place a firelighter or scrunched up newspaper together with some dry kindling wood on the grate. Light the firelighter or paper
  3. Leave the door slightly ajar while the fire establishes and the glass warms up. This will help avoid condensation building up.
  4. Once the fire is going, add some larger pieces of wood (Do not fill the chamber with logs)
  5. When the logs have caught flame and the fire is fully establishes, close the door completely
  6. Close the primary air control
  7. Use the air wash to control the burn rate when the appliance is at operating temperature
  8. Maintain the fire frequently with small amounts of additional fuel

The most effective technique for building the fire is to make a small stacked structure of wood by basically making a hash tag out of the stacked kindling around a fire lighter with one single log on the top, bark side down.

Mineral Fuel Stove

  • Start with a firelighter and a small amount of small sized coal
  • Set the air control to maximum
  • Once the original fuel is well alight, start to build up the fuel in the grate without overfilling the chamber
  • Reduce the air intake once the whole bed of fuel is burning well
  • Add more fuel at a frequency that keeps a good bed of red hot coals
Why do I need to replace or reline my chimney?

There will be one of three reasons why the existing chimney may need to be relined:

  • A chimney will need to be relined if it is found to be unsound from the results of the appropriate test by a skilled engineer
  • And/or if the cross-sectional area if the flue is too large or small for the intended appliance
  • And/or any of the existing lining is found to be unsuitable for the proposed appliance type

Solid Fuel Specialists