The dangers of wood-burning stoves

Published October 24, 2014

Read time 2 mins

Find in this article:

Many of us living outside smokeless zones have replaced open fires with wood-burning stoves. And one reason for this is that they are so much more energy efficient: throwing out far more heat than conventional wood or coal fires. But this brings with it additional dangers, as illustrated by a recent claim we worked on.

Our client had three open fires in his house which he had used frequently and uneventfully for many years. But eventually he decided to replace them with wood burners as these are more efficient. They were functioning well but one day, a few months after they were installed, the fire alarm went off. There was no sign of a fire but he immediately got the family out of the house. He then went upstairs and could hear a whooshing noise in the roof but nothing else. He left the house and then saw smoke coming from the roof, shortly followed by flames. The house was almost completely destroyed.

The fire was caused by the fact that there wasn’t sufficient gap between the flue from one of the wood burners and the adjacent timber floor. Although this had been fine with the old open fires, it proved disastrous with the wood burner as the temperatures involved are so much higher. This was sufficient to cause the timbers to ignite.

Ensure compliance with Building Regulations

The key point for anyone installing wood burners is that their existing chimneys may be inappropriate and may need to be upgraded. Wood-burning stoves should always be fitted to the manufacturer’s specification by qualified HETAS engineers and should comply fully with Building Regulations, which include strict guidance on the gap which should be left around the flue.

Not only is it dangerous to do otherwise, it could also invalidate your insurance cover. We all have a duty under the terms of our home insurance to take all reasonable precautions to safeguard against loss or damage. We have seen claims declined where fires emanated from wood burners which were fitted by homeowners and not in accordance with regulations – and the insurer can take the view that this is reckless and unreasonably increases the risk of a fire.

The problem is potentially even greater for thatch owners, and we will go into more detail about this in a future blog.

Related Posts

April 2022

Common causes of workplace fires in the UK

This article was updated on 19th December 2023. The following workplace fire statistics have been compiled to shed light on the significant fire risks faced by UK businesses. All data was sourced from The Home Office’s most recently available fire statistics data tables, which include detailed information on incidents attended by the UK’s Fire and...

Read More

February 2021

Candle fire safety tips

Candles may not seem like a huge fire risk – after all, many of us enjoy lighting a candle or two in the evenings – but it’s important to use them with care. Even if you regularly burn candles, make sure you are always taking the necessary precautions to protect your home and the people...

Read More

January 2021

Fire insurance claim examples

In 2018/19, more than 36,000 homes across the UK were impacted by fire, a figure which serves as a stark reminder of just how vulnerable homeowners are to the threat of fire.  In the immediate aftermath of a house fire, homeowners will face a number of critical decisions that could impact the outcome of their...

Read More

We are authorised & regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

This means our clients are protected. You can trust the professionals managing your claim as we are regulated to the FCA’s strict standards and codes of conduct.

Authorised & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

Reference Number 309575

We will help you get back into your property as quickly as possible, ensuring you receive the full settlement you're entitled to

24/7 support

01978775403
Send Enquiry

Your claim is in safe hands