Advice on living flame gas fire

Hi All,
I'm having some concerns about our gas fire. Since we moved in 2 years ago it's always been fine, but lately it cuts out after around 5 minutes with a little popping noise.
I'm not using it until I know it's safe, and after trawling numerous old posts I'm wondering if it could be any of the following:
1. Not enough oxygen in the room, ODS activating and cutting out - I don't think the fire has an ODS, it doesn't look particularly sophisticated, but then why else would it cut out? Someone mentioned in an old post about the gas pressure had changed and his pilot kept cutting out - all I know is that the whole street's mains were replaced in August and September, could this have any bearing?
2. Faulty thermocouple - not sure again, it might be where the pilot light is, it has two flames coming out, one faces inwards towards the gas tray and another flame comes out to the right, and a little to the right of that flame is a vertical 'pole' but it doesn't touch the flame. ??
3. Flue is blocked - I think I should get this sweeped anyway as I know it hasn't been done since I've been here, and I doubt it was done in the 5 years prior to us moving in (when the fire was installed).
4. Not enough airflow? Probably linked to 3 - My combi boiler is due for a service, and last year when British Gas gave it it's initial inspection (for their central heating cover) I showed him the gas fire and asked if they'd cover it. Before he even looked at it in detail he said "no way, there's no air vents in the room"... it was my understanding that no air bricks were required because the gas fire is sitting in a class 1 flue (previously solid fuel fire, it's an old house)?
I believe class 1 flue's are 16" minimum, and looking at the width of the flue above the fire it does look suitable, so I shouldn't need an air brick installing should I? The thought of having to knock through a wall making the place even colder doesn't really impress me much (and despite their inefficiencies our living flame fire kicks out plenty of heat). It surprised me when the boiler engineer said that, because a CORGI installer must have installed the fire in the first place, so why the need for an air brick now?
The more I think about it the more I want to just get rid of the fire and install a new one.
That's another thing, our gas fire looks like it's part of the surround as well, so it's not a case of swapping the fire assembly - I'd have to replace the whole lot suite. However, I spotted this on the ScrewFix site, and it looks like it would be a suitable replacement..
http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/pro.jsp?ts †464&id‡801
Any thoughts anyone? Is it time for me to call out a fire expert or shall I see how the chimney sweeping fairs first?
I'd appreciate any help on this.
Thanks!
Stuart.
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On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 07:49:47 +0000, Stuart wrote:

OK we definately have an oxy-pilot aka ODS aka VSD (vitiation sensing device)
The next question is it dropping out because the thermocouple is dud or because it is doing its job.
Since it only takes a few minutes before it drops out all you have to do is to see whether the flame is blue or has bent upwards and become yellow. Frankly I think it very unlikely that the fire could use up most of the oxygen in a few minutes much more likely is that the themrocouple is dodgy or for some reason the flame is not hitting the 'pole' properly as the fire warms up.
The flame should just touch the tip of the pole, perhaps the pilot injector is partially blocked; crud on the bits; very poor running inlet gas pressure.

It is a very good idea for someone to check the flue every year. Normal practice is too check with a smoke match that there is a 'draw' on the flue under worst case conditions (windows & doors closed - extractor fans on). If there is a 'draw' then proceed to a smoke pellet. Checking that the smoke goes all up the right flue/chimney an not into other rooms chimneys or lofts. Finally check for spillage of combustion gases into the room with a smoke match when the fire is running as laid down by the manufacturers.

Most gas fires with a heat input of less than 7kW (Gross) do not need any purpose provided ventilation PROVIDED IT WORKS CORRECTLY.

1 brick length square = 225mm sq. nominal
and looking at the width of

See above. HTH
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Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
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I happened to glance at the living flame fire we have the other day, and at the top where the flue is, I noticed a dusty deposit on the metal trim that holds the back panel in place, which looked as though it might be almost 1mm "thick" in places over a width of about 5". The house does and always has seemed dusty, although it improved when we replaced old felt underlay when we got a new carpet laid a few years ago. The fire tends to be on 24/7 (on "half") from September onwards :-}
Should I be overly concerned at the moment ?
The fire has been in for ~6 years, and has had the OSD replaced once about 3 years ago - we have a carbon monoxide detector and that`s showing nothing worrying (brand new one from the BG install of the MIL`s CH the other week). When the fire was installed it needed some minor blockwork to accomodate it, and the chimney was swept at the same time.
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On Mon, 24 Nov 2003 23:13:48 +0000, Colin Wilson wrote:

Well appliances should be serviced.

These sensors from BG are pure customer expectation massaging and nothing to do safety. It is almost certain that they installed a room sealed boiler so what were they doing adding a CO detector? It will do _some_ good in your home, regular servicing and checking more so.
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Funny you should mention that - Powerhouse (under Scottish Power) managed to completely fudge both the original installation and failed to provide the annual checks that were part of an insurance we paid for on the fire...
We had enough problems getting them to change the ODS when that failed - they tried to deny there being any insurance in effect, despite it being itemised on the original receipt !
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The flame is blue, but it definately doesn't touch the tip of the pole, in most fires I've seen the pole bends at an angle to meet the flame, but this one is simply straight verticle and nowhere near the flame (about 10/15mm away).
I'll get it serviced for sure, and I'll check the flue with a smoke match.
Thanks for your help Sid, very much appreciated.
Stuart.
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On Wed, 26 Nov 2003 02:22:57 +0000, Stuart wrote:

Possible causes are: Damage to the oxy pilot assembly - however the should be vertical. Partially blocked pilot injector. In adequate inlet working gas pressure - should be at least 18.5 mBar.
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Hi All, here's a followup...

BG came round today to service the boiler (which they still haven't fixed the faulty diverter valve I had pointed out to them but I don't have time for that today)..
I got one of them to have a quick look at the gas fire (which now has a yellow 'at risk' label attached to it). The first thing he said before was that I need an air vent (100cm2) because it's a DFE. If it's an inset living flame fire under 7KW then an air brick isn't necessary - so I take it I should get this done quick sharp?
He quoted me £66 to supply and fit the air brick, is that reasonable or do you think I/someone else could do it for less (and easier)?
After 2 years of using it 'at risk' there must be something else causing it to cut out, so I asked him about the pressure. He didn't measure anything because he wasn't there to look at the fire, but his opinion was that the pressure is fine and the draw up the flue was perfectly adequate as the flames were roaring up there.
What he did point out was that the flame from the pilot should envelope the thermocouple but it wasn't, so he suggested there may be some crap in the pilot jet, and I should get it serviced for around £60.
What do you reckon?
Stu.
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snipped-for-privacy@valen.co.uk (Stuart) wrote in message

Well-spotted, does anyone know how 'realistic' this particular model is? It seems very good value. Ideally I'd like to see it in operation to judge what it looks like before shelling out a hundred quid and getting it fitted, but not an option with Screwfix :(
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On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 05:35:02 +0000, Martin Pentreath wrote:

I have fittd several of these including one in my own home. They seem reliable enough, they have changed supplier recently and the new unit seems to give out a bit less heat that the older (£120 quid) ones.
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Thanks Ed. Any feelings on whether they look particularly like a real fire? Call me shallow, but my living room is kept warm enough by the rads and I'm more interested in having the fire for effect.
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On Wed, 26 Nov 2003 05:12:19 +0000, Martin Pentreath wrote:

All too real except for a slight hissing (not audible above even low TV sound). So real you may have to train people not to use it as an incinerator. They take about 20 minutes or so to get relly convincing.
Your radiator should have a TRV or the main thermostat should be in the living room (but then the house will get cold).
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Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at www.diyfaq.org.uk
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