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Smoke coming from next door's log burner.

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Smoke coming from next door's log burner.

Old 5th May 2020, 23:28
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Smoke coming from next door's log burner.

My pal is technically vulnerable, though very bright. She bought a small semi-bungalow in our coastal Essex town and looked forward to spending a time split between here and her little job elsewhere. It's noteworthy that she wouldn't have to work if the government hadn't reneged on her pension. Then Covid, then she hurt her leg etc., etc., life just entering a mean spell. And then her living room filled with smoke.

She can hear the stoking of the new unit and somehow the smell is seeping around her gas fire which has a solid back board and liner. Communication has been very limited with the young owners of the adjoining property. They've talked on the phone and insist there's a certificate covering their work. However, other local businesses have made arm-throwing-up-noises when the company name is mentioned.

She's focussing on assumed problems even to the point of having a taller chimney pot installed. It's been suggested that one with a closed top and slots at the side might be best, though that puts it very near the daft little outlet of the neighbour's burner. 'A conical hat on legs'.

EDIT: The main reason I can't pull the fire out is the small diameter GAS plumbing. It seems contiguous and rigid.
EDIT: Plugging is for short-term diagnostic purposes only.

I would pull out her fire and plug the liner - obviating smoke seeping through the brickwork or past the tops of the ducting. However, the 1/4" - ish pipe DOES NOT have a gas cock near the carpet, relying only on the electrically controlled device in the fire. (it has a remote control, so is quite modern.) I would fit one, but it's simply against the law now for me to mess with gas.

Any ideas on the legality of not having a local shut-off cock? And indeed the rights of the neighbours in their rather selfish non-action.

I'm most anxious to help my friend as she was out walking in cold rain the other day because the house was unusable.
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Last edited by Loose rivets; 6th May 2020 at 00:46.
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Old 5th May 2020, 23:53
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I wonder if a word to your local fire safety officer and a visit from them might have an effect, if the appliance is leaking then there is a fire safety issue, simply plugging it her side isn’t going to alleviate that.
call them explain exactly what’s happening, they may condemn the installation and stop it’s use until rectified.. the fact it is filling her property with smoke is also not only a health issue it will be damaging her possessions with smoke damage, she should not be paying out to rectify a problem not of her making.
I wouldn’t take the certificate as a be all and end all btw, there are unscrupulous people about may issue certs for substandard work.

Failing the fire service, the councils environmental dept might be a second route.

helpful link, your local fire service will also have one.

https://www.fireservice.co.uk/safety/

http://www.problemneighbours.co.uk/n...chimineas.html

Last edited by NutLoose; 6th May 2020 at 00:14.
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Old 6th May 2020, 00:34
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Thanks for that. It's likely to be an ongoing issue due to the virus, but there's the politics involved as well. She's alone most of the time but is a naturally gregarious person. The last thing she wants is cold shoulders.

Any blocking off was for diagnostics only, of course.

As an aside: In the days I had money, a small modern terraced house came on the market for a song. I backed off when friends needed it. They made it fabulous, and while working on it found a metal plate tacked over the air vent near the living room gas fire. Hmmm, perhaps that's why the old boy had died in his chair at the fireside. Time goes by and a sweep is called in. He walks in proudly showing a huge brush top which had been lodged up the chimney. So, Vent plus brush probably did the job.
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Old 6th May 2020, 06:07
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What NutLoose said.

Any ideas on the legality of not having a local shut-off cock?
Don't know about the legality, but the stupidity of it is pretty obvious.
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Old 6th May 2020, 08:00
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Sorry is if a woodburner or one of those wood effect gas burners? If the latter, it sounds like a relatively easy job for an emergency gas engineer. Her home insurance may cover this.

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Old 6th May 2020, 08:10
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My family have a wood burner and stove business - faulty or improper installation is a very serious business - Often retailers of the stove (the shop) will not be the installer - The supplier will just recommend an installer to the buyer or the buyer gets their own. Their work normally is signed off and a Hetas certificate obtained, but this is not law and is not a requirement.
What is more important is that Building Regulations through Building Control are followed. Should your installation cause damage to property or person then you will likely find yourself in a spot of bother.

The whole industry is sort of self regulated, it is not the best, but when the poop hits the fan then the Building Regulations law applies.

Your friend should get a CO carbon monoxide detector and alarm in the meantime.

Also new laws about what type of wood and solid fuel you can burn are coming.

PS
what are next door burning ? Logs (wet wood will create a lot of smoke) or solid fuel, or a mix even?
Are the occupants Tenants or the home-owners?

Last edited by rog747; 6th May 2020 at 08:23.
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Old 6th May 2020, 08:21
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Get a CO detector ASAP. If there is smoke there will very likely be CO and that will be a quick way to get it shut down.
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Old 6th May 2020, 08:22
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Originally Posted by dead_pan View Post
Sorry is if a woodburner or one of those wood effect gas burners? If the latter, it sounds like a relatively easy job for an emergency gas engineer. Her home insurance may cover this.
The latter you mention (gas effect fire/stove) will not give off smoke/fumes as described in OP - The OP stated the neighbours can hear them 'stoking' the fire/stove - so they are either burning logs, or solid fuel or both.
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Old 6th May 2020, 09:58
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Thanks chaps. Will forward this now. More complex CO2 detector has been ordered. rog747, Old socks by the sound of it. I'll look carefully at the regs. I'm not sure if our council is operating normally, but I'll give them a call later today. Thanks.

The offending item is the 'wood burner' next door on the adjoining wall. My friend has a gas fire with coal effect only.

Since her unit is hard to get out I have not been able to gain access to her (hopefully) lined chimney. Her gas unit was obviously expensive but she's yet to master the lighting sequence with the remote and it usually requires grovelling about on the floor trying to keep it going until its detector gives the okay to stay on.
There may be a disconnect under the floor boards but other than that the pipe is rigid to the fire.
At this time she is researching fixes, rather than getting to the core of the problem. I feel frustrated as my last set of ladders went with my last move, and I'm not allowed to fettle gas in the UK.

I'm renting for the first time in this era of my life and the unnecessary costs I see inflicted upon the landlords it bewildering.
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Old 6th May 2020, 10:13
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Improper fitting and sealing of stoves seems to be a common problem. I suspect that one reason is that the required flue liner is often expensive, so some may choose to just bodge the stove into an existing fireplace and just assume that the existing chimney is both gas tight and able to tolerate the emissions from the stove (it almost certainly won't be).

Issues like that can be an absolute nightmare for neighbours, and may not always be easy to resolve. There's a very long thread on the green building forum highlighting just how difficult it can be to get a neighbours problematic smoke emissions fixed, after a couple of years the battle there was still going on, with the health of the person next door to the thing heading downhill all the time.

I was interested to read this BMJ article a while ago, which points out that wood burning stoves emit more harmful particulates into the air in the UK than vehicles: https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h2757/rr-1

The disproportionate amount of PM2.5 pollution from domestic wood burning continues to escape attention. Few people who install wood stoves are likely to understand that a single log-burning stove permitted in smokeless zones emits more PM2.5 per year than 1,000 petrol cars and has estimated health costs in urban areas of thousands of pounds per year.
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Old 6th May 2020, 10:22
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Yep, about time they enforced smoke free zone regulations. Ridiculous that people burn wood in cities.
Our house insurance is very high as we have a stove, wonder if the neighbours told the insurance company?
Anyway, have they had the chimney swept, and better yet, inspected by camera? How is their chimney lined?
On a side note, particulates from coal and wood fires are an issue: improvement in housing to eliminate these must have had a big effect in the nation's health.
I live in a damp, draughty and poorly insulated thatched cottage.
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Old 6th May 2020, 13:11
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I'm always wary of indoor heaters, whether gas or wood fired, regarding carbon monoxide poisoning.

In year 7 at school, I sat next to Dawn F. who didn't return to school one Monday morning in 1969. On the Saturday night, she'd been child minding at a neighbour's home. Later that night, the parents of the child found her "asleep" in front of the heater. She was dead. (The child was safe in her bedroom.)The cause was apparently CO poisoning caused by an unventilated gas space heater that used town rather than natural gas.
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Old 6th May 2020, 17:20
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Her fire brigade will provide a free smoke alarm, I use a combined smoke and Carbon Monoxide one.

These are the ones I have and have renewed recently with the same, though there are cheaper

Amazon Amazon

Last edited by NutLoose; 6th May 2020 at 17:43.
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Old 6th May 2020, 17:29
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More complex CO2 detector has been ordered
Look out for carbon monoxide - that can kill you.

(Falling asleep and never waking up is a common symptom. It also lowers your IQ by lowering the amount of oxygen available to your brain.)

Carbon dioxide won't, unless it gets to much higher levels.

However, if there's smoke, there are particles of ash and so on, which is bad for asthmatics in particular and your lungs in general.
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Old 6th May 2020, 18:33
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We had to have my mothers gas fire removed after a dead pigeon filled the little used front room with bluebottles. The poor bird had died behind the fire producing the flys. When removing the fire the gas fitter condemned the fire because it had a 1/4 pipe which he said was illegal. He said the supply should a larger diameter.

Another though, if your friend is getting smoke through on her side are the gas fumes going the other way from her fire.
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Old 6th May 2020, 19:02
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Oh for goodness sake ! You may have the best of intentions, but dont mess with her installation. contact the local council environmental health dept , this is an emergency that could be life threatening.
Now just to add ;
Contact the local council environmental health dept , this is an emergency that could be life threatening. I cannot emphasise this enough, by contact environmental health I mean first thing tomorrow morning. Dont down play the situation, state it as it is , they will deal with it.

Oh just to add , when you find your Pal cold, blue and dead in her chair, dont look in the mirror, I haven't home to terms with a friends death from the same circumstances 40 years ago, I did nothing.
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Old 6th May 2020, 19:13
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Originally Posted by xraydice View Post
Oh for goodness sake ! You may have the best of intentions, but dont mess with her installation. contact the local council environmental health dept , this is an emergency that could be life threatening.
Now just to add ;
Contact the local council environmental health dept , this is an emergency that could be life threatening. I cannot emphasise this enough, by contact environmental health I mean first thing tomorrow morning. Dont down play the situation, state it as it is , they will deal with it.

Oh just to add , when you find your Pal cold, blue and dead in her chair, dont look in the mirror, I haven't home to terms with a friends death from the same circumstances 40 years ago, I did nothing.
Exactly this!!! I was asking myself why the OP is messing around with this stuff although he doesn't have ******* clue. GET SOMEBODY IN WHO KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
Pardon my french.

edit: what? What the ****! why the ******? That was my best french. Silly Buggers...

Last edited by ThorMos; 6th May 2020 at 19:15. Reason: ******* was changed to ****** by pprune
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Old 6th May 2020, 23:42
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No, I won't be tempted to sneak in there with me tool kit. I've a mass of plumbing parts that I can't even lift stored in a mate's workshops, but I suspect even changing a washer is verboten in my rented bungalow. Well, ceramic thingy.

Experts? Hmmm . . . We're in a world where 22mm 'copper' gas supplies are legal down the side of driveways just inches away from tyres. Gas going through soldered joints. What could possibly go wrong? Young man came around to look at the boiler in the attic of a bungalow I was borrowing. He'd got a van that must have been one heck of an investment. Nice young chap, with clomping great boots. He managed to see-saw an attic floor board and then stood with his foot on a 15mm copper gas pipe telling me off for having an unsafe attic. Good luck with the next 40 years of climbing in people's properties, young man. I straightened the pipe when he'd left. One has been immune from experts since sproghood.

Black pipe or nowt, where I'm concerned.

I spent quite a while on the phone with her today. She was unwilling to come onto this thread because of the need to give personal details before even snooping in the background. Can this be true? I don't want to risk signing myself out while being isolated from so much other communication.

I'll stress the need for environmental health enquiry tomorrow. Forecast looks like temperatures between 25 and 12, so no certain respite from logs. At this time she's pro the taller chimney plan. She's of the opinion that the chimney is not lined.

The Particulate Matter quantities have astonished me. I was aware how wrong I'd been thinking humans were somehow evolutionarily immune from log fire smoke, but had no idea just how bad it was.

No more use of 1/4" pipe. That's bought back memories of hoarding a box of beautiful old pipes, bends and cocks, all kind of polished gunmetal. They'd supplied the only heater in the shop I spent the war in. The four cast iron pillars sat in the middle of the shop, venting into the surrounding air. I think it was there for 52 years.

I'm rambling again. Time I was over on Quora.
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Old 7th May 2020, 00:36
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I know we are all idiots over here in America, but at least we require black iron pipe for gas runs, as well as an installation pressure check. I would also note that sending gas exhaust up a mortar chimney is asking for trouble, as the fumes will eventually destroy the mortar joints. The chimney should be lined with SSTL.
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Old 7th May 2020, 05:56
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Originally Posted by Loose rivets View Post

I spent quite a while on the phone with her today. She was unwilling to come onto this thread because of the need to give personal details before even snooping in the background. Can this be true? I don't want to risk signing myself out while being isolated from so much other communication.

I'll stress the need for environmental health enquiry tomorrow. Forecast looks like temperatures between 25 and 12, so no certain respite from logs. At this time she's pro the taller chimney plan. She's of the opinion that the chimney is not lined.

The Particulate Matter quantities have astonished me. I was aware how wrong I'd been thinking humans were somehow evolutionarily immune from log fire smoke, but had no idea just how bad it was.
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From your OP the problem does not sound like it is from your friends' gas fire or her installation of it, but I trust that she has that gas fire serviced annually, if not she needs to get one done PDQ where she can mention to the gas fire service guy what is happening from next door, where the ingress in to her front room of wood/solid fuel smoke from next doors' stove when in use...

No home DIY attempts nor make assumptions here.
She must get proper advice re the issue from next door. The Council's E/H, Building Control. Local Fire service safety officer.

She must tell the owners next door of her concerns, if they are tenants then she needs to find out who the owners/letting agents are, and that they (the occupants) must stop using the stove until an inspection by an approved wood burner installer is undertaken.
She must record how long this has been going on and try to ascertain from the owner if this is a first time brand new stove installation, or if they have had any new work done to an existing stove/chimney and/or a replacement stove etc.

The issue of chimney height versus the height of the property roof lines for a stove installation is often critical under newer Building Regs/Control and is often the one that lands installers in Court.

Take a photo of their chimney.

Changes to Wind direction is often a cause of smoke entering back in to the house and is a common 'call out fault'' we get. An installer can look at that and a chimney modified to improve that - but smoke should still not enter next door.
Recently the wind direction has been mainly from the East blessing us with clear fine weather.

Chances are here their chimney liner (or maybe the lack of one) is the culprit here - but your friend must act with the owners to sort this out.

Edit - re-reading your OP through the lines - I get the impression this is a brand new stove installation in next door and that the supplier (or is it the installer?) is of some doubtful 'repute' - She could eventually contact that company and say her front room is filling with smoke when the said stove is used and let them know to advise the owners to stop using it until it is inspected and a remedy sorted, and that she is contacting the Council Building Control to report the matter.

BTW it is a CO not a CO2 detector/alarm you need (to detect carbon monoxide)

Last edited by rog747; 7th May 2020 at 08:11.
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