Condemned Gas Fire


I am a landlord and I have just had a Landlords Safety Check on one of my properties. The gas guy (who I trust by the way) has "labelled and capped" the fire due to it failing the "spillage test". What does this mean and is it fixable. He has recommended a new fire. Unfortunately I cannot ask him as he went on a weeks holiday last night and I got his invoice and certs this morning. At present the tenant isn't too bothered as the house has CH and she very rarely puts the fire on.
Cheers
John
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It means the flue isn't generating enough updraft to suck up all the combustion products, so some might be spilling into the room. It's done by lighting the fire, leaving it on for about 10 minutes to allow the flue to start drawing properly. Then you close all the doors and windows and other closable ventilation, switch on any extractor fans, and do a smoking match test. Hold a smoldering match about an inch in front and a couple of inches below the top of the fire opening, and the smoke should be drawn into the chimney (the fire's instructions may give more precise positioning for this test). Presumably when he tried this, the smoke spilled into the room.
I can't imagine a new fire will help (unless it's a completely different type). Sounds more like the flue and room ventilation need fixing.
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Andrew Gabriel

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Andrew Gabriel wrote:

Just a question relating to my curiosity rather than in relation to the OP's dilemma.
I understand what you are saying, but rather than it being a fault of the flue/chimney would I be right in saying that it could be that the room isn't ventilated properly? After all, for smoke to be drawn up the chimney it requires air to be able to come into the room. If that room were perfectly insulated could that cause this problem?
If it were a problem relating to room ventilation what would be the means of fixing that? Bashing a big hole in the wall sounds like one idea but maybe I'm missing something obvious.
Andrew
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Yes, I did say that.

First, need to check that the gas fire has the required ventilation as specified by the manufacturer. In the absence of the manufacturer's information, there are some generic figures based on the power input of the fire. I have a 6kW one, and the manufacturer's instructions specify that this needs no extra room ventilation. It still has to pass the spillage test though.
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Andrew Gabriel

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On Sat, 09 Dec 2006 11:09:40 +0000, Andrew Gabriel wrote:

Quite. I fitted one where it did fail the spillage test until a vent for the room was added.
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Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
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But the fire is in the same room, same ventilation, etc. That has not been altered in the 4 years I have owned the property. The property has not shown any gas related problems in the past. I do not mind changing the fire if it needs it but I do not want to spend a couple of hundred quid replacing the fire if it isn't going to sort it because there is a pigeons nest on top of the chimney pot!
Cheers
John
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John wrote:

I don't know what sort of flue/chimney arranmgent you have, but is the answer to simply have a chimney sweep round to do his stuff? If you have an old chimney which was originally an open fire, maybe something's fallen down or moved (old brickwork/soot?) to cause a partial blockage?
Given that your tenant isn't kicking off, I think your best bet is definitely to wait till you can speak to your CORGI: not only wil he be able to shed more light on why he failed the fire when he pronounced it OK last year, but he ought to make some constructive suggestions as to the way forward.
David
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Andrew McKay < snipped-for-privacy@kazmax.co.uk

Ours failed on that a few years ago (when serviced by someone I trust - it had "passed" fine for the two british gas services previous to this...)
It was fixed by a suitable vent being fitted in the wall. Unfortunately, this has meant that sitting on the floor in that half of the room is really quite chilly at times now :-/
Still, it's an ancient baxi back boiler that I hope will be finally heading to the boiler graveyard next year and replaced by a nice new boiler up in the loft out of the way. I can then reduce the vent somewhat.
Apparantly quite common in houses that have had double glazing fitted since the boiler was installed (Which makes sense).
Darren
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Andrew Gabriel wrote:

As the tenant was already living there when the test was carried out, then presumably there was already a valid landord's certificate in force before... which begs the question, what has changed since last years' was done? I think there's a lot of subjectiveness about these tests - what one CORGI will pass, another will fail. Maybe you were lucky not to have had it failed before?
As you have CH, my suggestion would be to dump the gas fire and replace it with an inset electric flame effect fire... I fitted one of these in a let property (from Wickes) and it really looks quite good when working; basically serves as a 'focal point' for the room but includes a 3kW fan heater which lets the tenant get the room warm from stone cold in a couple of minutes if required. And no more gas certification/servicing! See <
http://img.photoamp.com/i/hoJ4FRmz.JPG - fire's not switched on but you get the idea.
David
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Yes there was a valid cert in force since last years test. The same guy did the test , he has always done my tests, so no subjectiveness there I presume. I have spoken to the tenant this morning and she isn't bothered about the fire at the moment so I may wait to speak to the guy when he returns from holiday.

Could be an idea, how do these fires get the power are they plugged into a socket or hard wired behind? If hard wired it could be a problem getting power to it as the living room floor is concrete and I could do without the hassle of channeling etc. Any idea of the cost of one of these fires?
Cheers
John
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I lived in a rented house for a short period between buying and the fire there failed with the same problem. The gas man who checked it said that the issue was probably due to a cobweb in the flue. Apparently pre cast flues (if that is what you have) only need a very slight blockage like a cobweb in the right place to disrupt the updraft. I moved out before the issue was resolved so do not know if that was correct.
May help you.
Paul

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John wrote:

Well, plugged into a socket yes, but the flex comes out of the back of the appliance as normally you wouldn't want a visible flex trailing along the front of the hearth. In mine, I drilled a ~15mm hole from the outside of the chimney breast right through into the fireplace, threaded the flex through, refitted the plug and plugged it in to a convenient socket (which TBH wasn't there by coincidence as I'd rewired the whole place during the refurbishment!) Socket is hidden inside a fitted cupboard also housing the meters, as it happens.
Cost? IIRC 90-100 GBP from Wickes.
David
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On Sat, 09 Dec 2006 13:00:02 +0000, John wrote:

The main causes for a spillage failure would be some change in the ventilation or flue. The appliance itself if correctly installed would be the least likely cause.
The manufacturers may state how the spillage test should be performed, usually in terms of the location of the smoke match. Some models state the bulk of the smoke should be drawn into the appliance but most state all.
If there is also gas central heating there is little to be gained by not replacing the gas fire as an annual certificate will still be needed.

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Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at http://www.diyfaq.org.uk
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