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Flue pipes: how to prevent malfunctioning

Recommendations from the Italian Association of Chimney Sweeps

Experts warn that - according to the news reports and the Fire Brigade’s statistics - the number of fires and intoxications has been growing steadily in Italy over the past few years.

Why? We have tried to explain that with help from ANFUS, the Italian Association of Stove Fitters and Chimney Sweeps.



One of the main causes of these incidents is poor maintenance of flue pipes. The so called “soot fire” is triggered because the waste and residues which are deposited on the flue pipe walls catch fire.

How can we prevent them?

Regular and thorough cleaning of the flue pipe is important. This operation should be performed at least once a year by skilled personnel.

Burning dry firewood only, and at least 12-month seasoned, prevents tar and creosote from forming in the flue pipe and reduces polluting emissions as well. Do not burn production waste, such as chipboard, plywood or painted items, plastic and coated paper, food waste or cigarette butts: while burning, these products give off polluting substances that escape from the chimney.



Sometimes, fires in the flue pipe may result from overheating of internal parts. The causes for this are therefore to be sought in poor chimney construction: inappropriate materials, insufficient thermal insulation with regards to the fuels used, failure to comply with the safety distances from combustible materials nearby.

Danny Garbin of Schiedel Srl says: “the rapid spread of increasingly advanced wood and pellet systems has not always been attended by an overhaul of flue gas exhaust systems, to take into account the system's power.  Pellet and wood, for instance, subject flue pipes to higher temperatures: 200°C for pellet and 400°C for wood, against 150°C of  a traditional gas boiler. Changing the system, especially if it uses wood, without also changing the existing flue pipe or overlooking the construction of an appropriate and compliant chimney, may be highly hazardous.”

In conclusion, in order to prevent any incident, we should stop considering fireplaces or stoves as simple household appliances. They are heating systems and should be treated as such. Give up the DIY. Contact a qualified stove fitter for installation and a skilled chimney sweep for maintenance and cleaning. - ANFUS Italian Association of Stove Fitters and Chimney Sweeps

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