Chimneys, Flues & Fires

  • There are 60,000 thatched properties in the UK, of which 50-80 suffer a serious fire each year, most of which are completely destroyed.
  • 90% of the homes struck by thatch fire have a combination of a wood burning stove either a flexible chimney liner or no liner at all.
  • If you are in any doubt with regard to the condition or suitability of your chimney, flue or fire, please contact a HETAS registered installation and maintenance engineer.

Recommendations for the safe use of woodburners and reduce the risk of ejected embers:

  • Chimneys should be professionally swept at least once a year, more often if the fire is regularly used.
  • An annual camera survey of the flue/chimney should be considered.
  • Ensure the woodburner is suitably lined and suitable for the room size and strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never use flammable liquids, paper or cardboard to light the fire.
  • Stay with the woodburner when lighting and refuelling.
  • Always burn well-seasoned or kiln dried wood with a moisture content of no more than 20%.
  • Do not install a spark arrestor. If one is already in place, ensure it is regularly cleaned.
  • Install a bird guard but ensure this does not hinder the operation and sweeping of the flue/chimney.
  • Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.


The chimney, including the pot, should terminate at least 1.8m above the height of the ridge. Although this is a current recommendation from Building Control Approved Document J, it is a sensible precaution for existing properties, however this is normally subject to the necessary planning and conservation/listed building consents.

Due to many thatched buildings being listed, a ‘common sense’ approach has to be taken into account when making this decision, this is because some of the restrictions by Local Authorities may not permit alterations of chimneys to such a large extent. In these cases please take the advice of a specialist engineer that has experience with thatched properties. The most well-known approval body for heating engineers is HETAS.

For further information follow the link to the HETAS document – Chimneys in Thatched Properties

Advice from the Fire & Rescue Service

Without proper maintenance, any flue from a fire or stove can cause a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide gas. A carbon monoxide detector will help protect you from this risk.
Make sure you are not at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning by having appliances installed and serviced by a competent engineer. Never block air bricks, vents or flues.

Landlords, letting agents, and tenants

Landlords are legally responsible for:

  • Maintaining solid fuel heating systems, chimneys and appliances (Office of Fair Trading 2005).
  • Providing literature for the relevant appliance.

Tenants are responsible for:

  • Using a solid fuel heating system and using only appropriate fuels for the fire/appliance.
  • Informing the landlord/agent as and when defects arise with the fire & appliance.