By law once a wood burning stove has been installed, the stove needs to be checked and signed off by a local authority building control department, which can cost around £200. However, a qualified engineer can self-certify their work to ensure it meets all necessary regulations.
Many people think they can install a stove themselves, or with the help of a friend. A badly fitted stove can cause a chimney fire, as can burning the incorrect fuel, and cases have been known where this has caused many thousands of pounds worth of damage.
An even greater threat is Carbon Monoxide poisoning which can prove fatal, and so it is vitally important that homeowners buy their wood burner from a reputable dealer and insist it is installed by a HETAS registered engineer.
HETAS is the official body responsible for approving biomass and solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services- including the registration of competent installers and servicing companies. A HETAS or CE approved stove will also ensure that it is safe and fit for purpose.
Making sure your stove is installed correctly is vitally important for safety. Not only that, but, an installation which meets building regulations will also burn fuel more efficiently and cost less money to run (Bruce Allen, HETAS 2011).
A recent survey carried out by Broseley found that 70% of their distributors and installers frequently met customers who believe they could install a stove on their own, without professional help, this is an issue that the whole industry needs to face up to.
DIY stove installations have huge risks associated with it, this is why your home insurance or an estate agent if you were to sell the property, will ask for certification of any solid fuel appliance fitted in the same way as a gas installation.
One such risk is suffocation by poorly and self installed wood stoves from gases produced. The wood burning stove can lead to instant illness when installed poorly on chimneys without the chimney lining. When the chimney lining is missing it will lead to the accumulation of carbon monoxide. This will prevent the gas from the burning wood not moving out through the chimney, and it can flow inwards into the house. Therefore, when the DIY stove installation is poorly installed and is left to warm the house during the night, one will die from invisible and aroma less carbon monoxide poisoning, that happens without anyone noticing that they are suffocating.
The installation of wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves (or any solid fuel appliance) is 'controlled' under Building Regulations-as is the relining or installation of flues and chimneys associated with such heat-producing appliances.
While this should mean that stove installation work is being carried out by a HETAS installer or an official sign-off certificate is provided by building control, the reality is that many stoves get put in un-checked.
Although qualifications are not mandatory, any person fitting a solid-fuel must be competent to do so- i.e. familiar with the correct procedures and associated regulatory requirements. It is recommended that stove fitters always undertake HETAS-approved training to ensure they have the correct skills and understand best practice for safe installation.
A stove is not a 'fit-and-forget' product. While the burner itself may need little maintenance, it is imperative that chimneys are swept at least twice per season. Approximately five or six deaths are reported to HETAS every year due to poorly-maintained appliances. Without cleaning, soot builds up in the flue and this can cause chimney fires.