Smoke Testing of Chimneys & Flues
What is A Smoke Test, and Why Do I Need One?
Here at Howards (Tarleton) we get hundreds of calls from customers each year asking us to check if their chimney/flue is safe to use. The only way we can do this and determine the integrity of a chimney/flue is by carrying out a full smoke test. (Smoke Test 1)
The purpose of this smoke test is to establish whether the chimney/flue is in a sound condition and fit for its intended use, and has sufficient draw to ensure the safe removal of the products of combustion without any leakage from any areas other than the chimney pot or termination.
The smoke test will identify any leaks within the chimney/flue system which if undetected will likely result in dangerous fumes and gases Carbon Monoxide entering internal rooms (bedroom, loft space etc) or that of a neighbouring property.
So, if there is any doubt whatsoever about the condition of a chimney/flue, or if an old or disused chimney/flue is intended being brought back into service, a smoke test is imperative.
A smoke test should only be carried out by a competent/qualified person using test procedures as described in the Building Regulations and the British and European Standards being BSEN 15287-1 for open fires and BSEN 15287-2 for room sealed appliance (stoves etc). Howards (Tarleton) has achieved all the relevant Qualifications/Awards to allow us to carry out this procedure, as well as being able to issue a Certificate of Smoke Testing upon completion.
In all instances, we would advise the chimney is thoroughly swept prior to carrying out a smoke test, ensuring there is no soot or other debris potentially blocking cracks within the chimney/flue. No appliances should be lit including those in an adjoining property whilst the smoke test is carried out.
The smoke test procedure will include:
- Ensuring all windows, doors and vents in the room are closed
- Warming the flue with a suitable heating device for approximately 10 minutes, or until a sufficient draught is established
- Igniting a suitable number of smoke pellets within the fireplace opening or appliance and then fully sealing off the base of the opening or closing all the appliance vents, door(s), ashpit covers etc
- Accessing top of the chimney/roof to seal off the chimney pot once smoke is visible thus allowing smoke to hold for a suitable period
- Carrying out an inspection/examination of the full length of the chimney/flue including upper floors, loft space if applicable/accessible and any party wall property
- Detailed information on any fault(s) or remedial work required and professional advice
Please note, use of smoke pellets is the Building Regulations 2010 recognised way of carrying out a smoke test (Smoke Test 1). Alternative and modern methods can be adopted usually by means of a Pressure Testing Machine. Either way, it is important the job is carried out correctly.
This chimney pot was sealed off using a rubber pot stop but leaked badly via the adjoining pots meaning it was unsafe to use and required remedial works carrying out by us
CAUTION!! Something to be mindful of:
It is a cause for concern that over the years we have had many occasions where we have been informed by the homeowner that a “smoke test” has already been carried out by a “friend” or other trades, and that the chimney/flue is working perfectly fine and not leaking.
Simply lighting a smoke pellet(s) in the fireplace opening/appliance and standing outside watching the smoke exit the chimney pot/terminal, DOES NOT CONSITUTE A SMOKE TEST (Smoke Test 1). This procedure is simply an evacuation check telling you that the chimney/flue has sufficient draw. Other than that, it tells you ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Not accessing the right professional advice, means there is the danger of allowing an unsafe chimney/flue that should have required re-lining or other remedial works, being brought back into use.
This may potentially invalidate your home insurance policy in the event of any future claim.
Other reasons for carrying out a smoke test on a chimney/flue are:
- If you have just bought the property are have no history of the workings of the appliance/chimney/flue and wish to know if it will be safe to use
- If a new appliance is being installed into an existing opening/chimney/flue
- If the chimney has recently caught fire. NEVER attempt to use a fire/appliance that has caused a chimney fire. ALWAYS get a professional chimney sweep in who is competent/qualified to carry out all relevant safety procedures and tests to ensure it is safe to do so.
- If you or a neighbour suddenly smell smoke in other parts of the property
Howard’s (Tarleton) carry full liability insurance and in addition to being Master Chimney Sweep members of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, we are also HETAS registered and Gas Safe registered, as well as being Ladder and Roof Safety qualified.
We have been doing what we do for almost 60 years.
Furthermore, we have strict procedures in place for carrying out all chimney related work to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the process. All this for your added peace of mind and safety.
To discuss any issues with your chimney/flue/stove/appliance or to make a smoke test appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Tel: 01772 812714 or Click here to contact us
Watch out for the next blog on CCTV Chimney Surveys and Inspections!!