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Open Fires, Draughts and Chimney Dampers in the UK

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If you’re Reading this in the USA, I’m probably preaching to the informed, however you will be surprised to know that chimney dampers are typical but unheard-of within the U.K. i am taking part in chimney/fireplace consultancy for almost 15 years and I am surprised this easy technology have not however be a part of standard hearth and flue design in my country.

People who haven’t looked up their particular chimney don’t know that vast volumes of their particular expensively hot air are moving through that hearth, up the flue, and in to the atmosphere 24/7 perhaps the fire’s lit or otherwise not. The truth is making a flue open throughout the year is really no dissimilar to making an upstairs window open, come rain or shine.

Ironically, once the weather condition turns cool, people will usually search an entire house for draft from the spaces around doorways, windows, letter boxes plus keyholes that are permitting the draughts in, and wanting to plug all of them, with very little thought to where the air goes too! often its the chimney that is creating the draft, sucking that cool air to your expensively centrally heated home.

Within the U.K, building laws specify that permanently open, committed air flow should be given to every open-fire equal in location to half the cross-sectional part of the flue. While residents are often appalled by the possibility of such a gaping gap in their living room, a fire does need to “breathe” and improvements in home heating effectiveness such as for example carpets, double glazing, and draught proof doorways mean we could much longer depend on a purely adventitious air supply. Adequate air flow needn’t trigger any disquiet if correctly positioned, particularly if a chimney damper is present in the flue, stopping unnecessary draughts as well as heat reduction whilst the fire isn’t in use.

As soon as the fire is illuminated a properly sized vent will give air essential for burning, and permit the chimney to draw; if at all possible it must not be in the hearth, but on the same side of the room as the hearth, so your incoming cool air doesn’t blow across everyone ankles because. In fact, permitting the fire to “breathe” easily through this vent will have a tendency to stop it being forced to suck air from additional afield, through doorways, windows or down other chimneys in the property, and improve comfort overall. Vents in the hearth are not as much as desirable, as they may blow ash and smoke around and out from the hearth; there is also an excellent impact on the draw caused by the incoming air coming through the hearth orifice, extracting the smoke with it.

Due to the fact price of warming our houses soars with escalating fuel expenses, and the result our wasteful practices are experiencing on the environment come to be more and more obvious, energy efficiency is no much longer just a problem for green activists, but also for many of us. For several, installing of a woodburning stove could be the apparent option, however in Great Britain we’re fortunate enough to possess an abundant architectural heritage of splendid open fires, and there is an excellent argument for preserving all of them, when we can reduce their particular bad affect home heating effectiveness. While woodburning or multifuel stoves have an important role to try out, fitting all of them correctly frequently involves coating the flue that is not just a pricey procedure for client, but could be permanent, stopping use of the hearth as an open fire in the future, and modifying the character of this room forever. Individuals who have several fireplaces may well decide to have a stove fitted in one hearth because their main supplementary heat resource, and fit dampers with their other fireplaces, especially if the option would be to permanently cap the chimney.

For fireplaces that are likely to be applied on a rather occasional basis, d.i.y. solutions enables. We usually see synthetic bags of fiberglass or bubble wrap crammed into flues! There are purpose made balloons and so on available but also for much more regular usage, many will never decide to need to remove and store any style of sooty chimney plug whenever they have a fire. It’s also really worth noting it’s great training to permit a trickle of air to move up the chimney, to stop condensation, and/or a flue therefore cool it is challenging re establish an updraught on burning a fire.

Whenever possible, the perfect solution is to match an objective made chimney damper that the householder can immediately start and close at might, with no fuss or mess. The advantages in comfort and paid off gasoline bills makes it a good investment that pays for it self much faster than many in your home improvement industry. Dampers can be fitted at the top, or base of this flue, and you can find benefits and drawbacks for both styles, but the geometry of this hearth and chimney, and the relative trouble of use of the top of the chimney bunch could be the determining element.

One explanation the U.K. has been slow to consider chimney dampers is undoubtedly the variety and age our housing stock, and thus off the rack services and products may possibly not be suited to numerous houses, and it should be mentioned that if a poorly sized damper is equipped that, with its open position lowers the flue location notably, it would likely lead to a cigarette smoking fire.

There are numerous British fireplaces struggling to draw through inclusion of a chimney pot. Although viewed as “conventional” by many, they are really a Victorian invention, suited to the smaller fireplaces well-known from that period onwards. I have lost count of this times i am expected to consider smoking fireplaces, and seemed up the chimney to see a nicely constructed gather, and an excellent sized flue, that is abruptly paid off to not as much as ½ its location by an 8″ or 9″ pot, which is usually partially obscured by slates or whatever other bearers the fitter features utilized during building.

The blend of turbulence brought on by the abrupt improvement in section and the physical limitation of this little outlet usually causes these fireplaces to smoke needlessly. Another common “problem hearth” could be the 3’squarish orifice revealed by keen residents just who believe they will have peeled straight back the levels of record to obtain the original hearth. What they’ve actually found could be the builder’s orifice, never designed to function as hearth, but to accept a cooking range or Victorian design place hearth, built with a flue to fit these much more small proportions.

In fireplaces in which the flue outlet errs towards undersized, I would perhaps not advise fitting a damper towards existing terminal. If access, and planning factors enable, start it up, and increase the bunch if necessary, or fit a larger pot if you must, and fit a damper while you’re up there. Usually, attempt to fit a damper in the gather right above the hearth lintel.

Chimney top dampers possess advantage of maintaining birds and weather condition out from the chimney, plus maintaining a warmish flue. On drawback are issues of access and working at heights, and the probability of technical failure in the “remote control” operating-system. (typically stainless-steel cable or chain)

Fireplace dampers typically give you failsafe and visible technical orifice and finishing, and will be fitted without use of the top of the chimney, but they are deceptively challenging to create and fit so they don’t foul the walls of this flue as they open, or excessively restrict the egress of smoke through the fire below. Fitting is an awkward and sooty work…and when there isn’t an excellent bird guard up top, twigs and soot displaced by weather condition and bird activity can build up getting dumped on the hearth once the damper’s exposed. By the way – mesh stretched across the the surface of the chimney is NOT a bird guard. It really is a perch/social amenity for our feathered pals to collect on while they keep warm, de-louse, defecate, and training twig tossing! A great bird guard features a smooth, solid, if at all possible angled (to lose rain/snow and work out perching a chore) top, and mesh sides.

We look forward to a single day most U.K. houses have dampers fitted to almost all their open fires, and predict that in a long time these devices can be because essential to accountable and shrewd home heating management as a well insulated loft, or double glazed windows.

Chimney dampers may possibly not be fitted to flues providing fuel fires in the U.K, nor may a fuel fire be fitted to a flue or hearth incorporating a damper unless rendered inoperable. The damper on an excellent fuel/wood fire shouldn’t be closed unless the fire is out and cool!

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Origin by Will K Jones

One thought on “Open Fires, Draughts and Chimney Dampers in the UK

  1. Pingback: Open Fires, Draughts and Chimney Dampers in the UK | Cosmetic Surgery in France

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