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Chim-chim-e-ney cher-oo

This post is about the trials and tribulations of sorting out a chimney for use of a rayburn.

This has been a frustrating step in the process of getting the heating sorted. I don’t mind spending money when I know what I’m getting is worth it. Here’s the situation (which I have relayed to many chimney sweeps over the phone): We have an interior brick  chimney that was built approximately 20  years ago and we know it was used for a solid fuel stove in the past. Whenever I mention to any of them that I don’t think it will need re-lining for these reasons (building regulations since 1962 meant that all chimneys built had to have a liner that would last the lifetime of the chimney) they all say that oh no, regulations changed in 2002 and it will deinitely need lining again. They couldn’t give me a real reason why though. I even had quotes over the phone without them even looking at the chimney.

I tried to get advice from impartial people (mostly the plumbers who came to quote us), but all they would say is that it’s not worth taking any risks, after all, with a wood-burning boiler, this is our lives we’re dealing with. So that guilted me into forgetting the idea of trying to find someone who would connect the rayburn to the chimney without worrying all about the rules and regulations (nigh on impossible anyway). The people who came around to look at the chimney were all HETAS registered, but did have varying degrees of concern for the finer points. Eg, the so called ‘defined hearth’ (you’re meant to have a plinth to sit the rayburn on) and the air vent in the room.

The flue pipe to go up the chimney costs about £150; the insulation to pack round it costs about £60; chimney cowls are £50 – £100. Skilled labour here (going by quotes we’ve had for various jobs around the house) costs around £100 a day and it would take one day to do. Altogether I make that £410. I don’t mind a little bit of give or take, but The Happy Smiling Chimney Services (and I will name them!) quoted me £1350. When it came through the post, they added VAT to that, making it £1750. Flipping ridiculous! And he was telling me all this and that about all the work involved about it being official and certified and stuff about a national government database with the details of our chimney on it! I’ve done the research – all you need is a certificate that I’m given and file away to show the person who next buys the house. That’s it! A print-out and a quick signature is all that’s required on his part. If I’m wrong, any HETAS registered people are welcome to leave a comment.

So anyway, this was our first quote, and left me pretty scared! So I got about 5 more quotes (a couple over the phone) and they all said roughly £1000. Some were less, but added VAT, and some were more, but weren’t VAT registered. Still seemed a bit steep to me, but at least everyone else were charging £750 less! It costs what it costs I suppose, but I’m still frustrated about the fact that our chimney is almost certainly absolutely fine as it is.

Moving and Renovating,
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Writer, pyrographer, renovator, crafter, photographer and maker of bohemian clothing and costumes.

2 Comments

Phil

I’m currently in the same position you were. I have a stanley superstar solid fuel which currently works fine in an unlined chimney. The property is just under 150 years old.

All i’m looking for is the stanley to be removed and replaced with a new multi fuel boiler stove.

I’ve had 3 hetas engineers visit, 2 have said the chimney needs lining before the have even stepped through the door, the 3rd says it doesnt need lining but the would smoke test on completion of the install – at the moment the range is working perfectly. One of the hetas engineers is quoting £100 a meter installed which he reckoned was a fair price. At almost 12m high, this is some wedge of money!!

I’ve also had conflicting information from the engineers about the hot water system header tank in the loft. one engineer says its fine in plastic, the other says it needs to be replaced with metal.

How is an end consumer supposed to make any sense of this? Surely there is a right and a wrong way to do the job – just like your chimney was. I’ve been in touch with hetas directly and they say there is no automatic requirement to line a chimney, only if the lime mortar lining is damaged or it fails a smoke test.

It seems to me that hetas engineers think they have a licence to print money, if they line every chimney the come across, whether they need it or not, thats some money they are raking in!

It would be a good idea if hetas themselves could inspect a property and provide a specification for heating engineers to quote to, sadly without an independent survey, it seems many consumers are going to be fleeced without even knowing it!

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Helen

Hi Phil. Very sorry to hear you’re having similar issues. I wish I could recommend something, but I can’t really help. It’s the impartial advice that’s so difficult to find. I searched so many message boards, but anyone who knows what they’re talking about is also advertising their own trade! In the end we decided to have it the chimney lined because we’d feel too guilty if anything did happen, but I still don’t think it needed it! It seems to me that as you’ve got a solid fuel stove already working perfectly fine, you’ll be ok without getting it lined. As long as you sweep it regularly I suppose. However, there’s a fear involved with fire, so please don’t take any notice of what I have to say!
(A friend of mine bought all the stuff, climbed onto his own roof and lined it himself.)

By the way, our hot water tank is plastic – but that was only one person’s opinion, no-one else got that far with a quote. If you’re in Somerset we have a spare gravity fed plastic tank if you want it.

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