Smell of wood burning stove entering neighbours flat

edited 29 November 2020 at 6:13PM in In My Home (includes DIY) MoneySaving
13 replies 965 views
stevohstevoh Forumite
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We recently had a eco-stove fitted in our flat. It complies with (in fact massively surpasses) all the London regulations, and we burn kild dried logs. Its been an absolute pleasure, but the tenants in the flat below us have started to complain that they can smell it in their lounge when we light it. 
The lady is a really picky character, and her husband doesn't seem to think its a big issue, but in fairness I could smell something when I went down to to their flat (albeit quite mild).
Our chimneys are self contained, but side by side, and our chimney pots are next to each other. My stove is, as your would expect, enclosed with a flue lining our chimney.
The only things I can think of are that 1) our flue is leaking (unlikely as its brand new), or 2) their chimney is somehow sucking our fumes down. They have an unused gas fire. I read somewhere that its possible that if their chimney pot is lower than ours (it will be as ours was extended when the stove was fitted) then their cold chimney may suck our fumes down.
I really want to try and get a resolution, as its heartbreaking not being able to use our stove over the winter. Any ideas would be much appreciated.


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  • ElephantBoy57ElephantBoy57 Forumite
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    stevoh said:
    I really want to try and get a resolution, as its heartbreaking not being able to use our stove over the winter. Any ideas would be much appreciated.
    Could you increase the height of your chimney or put a cowl on it that will direct the airflow away from their chimney.
    You obviously want to help your neighbour solve this issue, but should it stop u using it?
    Could the 'smell' be coming in via their windows or other ventilation?

  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    If they have an unused gas fire and smells are coming down it they will be getting cold air coming in and probably ought to look at getting the gas fire taken off and their chimney capped off better. 
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
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  • stevohstevoh Forumite
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    stevoh said:
    I really want to try and get a resolution, as its heartbreaking not being able to use our stove over the winter. Any ideas would be much appreciated.
    Could you increase the height of your chimney or put a cowl on it that will direct the airflow away from their chimney.
    You obviously want to help your neighbour solve this issue, but should it stop u using it?
    Could the 'smell' be coming in via their windows or other ventilation?

    Its possible the smell will be coming via a ventilation, but I suspect its coming down the chimney. I could offer to extend theirs, or cap it, just to solve the problem. Ironically we spent the summer with our flat flooded with smokey smells from their constant BBQs and tried to be a lenant neighbour and not complain! Ultimately I want to get the problem resolved though, as it doesn't sit well with me.
  • stevohstevoh Forumite
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    If they have an unused gas fire and smells are coming down it they will be getting cold air coming in and probably ought to look at getting the gas fire taken off and their chimney capped off better. 
    The gas fire is disconnected. I dropped the owners (absentee landlords) a note to offer to cap their chimney, if that turns out to be the issue. 
  • Jeepers_CreepersJeepers_Creepers Forumite
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    stevoh said:
     I read somewhere that its possible that if their chimney pot is lower than ours (it will be as ours was extended when the stove was fitted) then their cold chimney may suck our fumes down.

    That seems counter-intuitive to me. Almost certainly the best option - I'd have thought - is to get your flue higher still above theirs so that the smoke is dispersed upwards and sideways before it gets the chance to be 'sucked' down their flue. 

    But, with flues, all sorts of weird things can happen. Air currents play strange tricks, and it may be that the way the wind plays over your slightly-extended flue is causing currents that drive some of the smoke down and across their flue. Yes, that smoke should still not come down their flue, but cold flues - as you know - don't necessarily draw firmly in the 'correct' direction.

    Isn't your fire installer the person to contact for advice, tho'? Surely they've seen it all?! And you wouldn't be adding an extension or cowl to your flue yourself, would you?

    A cap might - should, in most cases - help the situation, but since this still needs to 'vent', it won't actually 'block' their chimney, so might not be a cure. In any case, I'm sure their gas fire would need to be physically removed before the flue is altered like this - probably talking about a couple of £undred at least?  
  • twopennytwopenny Forumite
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    I had a couple of old gas fires and there was a ventilation gap at the base of the metal plate covering the chimney breast. This is probably how some smell is getting in.
    Having the gas fire removed and the void covered would cure this and it should really be the job of the renters to point their problem out to the landlord so you're being very good to take it on for them.
    If the smell is coming down their chimney which seems most likely wind direction each day will be a factor so not sure you can change that.
    Not sure you should be paying out to correct it. You've really done nothing wrong.
    Perhaps a cowl on their chimney that faces away from yours could make a difference. Still expensive when it's not your problem. They used to be used in the old days of open fires for this problem but can't immediately find an image to show.

    The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well

  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Had this in my own house in the 1980s. Installed a Jetmaster fire (trendy in those days!) and every time we lit it the smell of smoke came down the middle bedroom chimney where there was a gas fire.
    Tried a higher pot and fancy cowl thing, but in the end we just learned to keep the middle bedroom door closed, because nothing else we did worked.
    Sorry to be downbeat. If the chimney isn't used, I'd imagine a pot cap and variable restrictor at the fireplace end would lessen or remove the problem.
  • stevohstevoh Forumite
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    Davesnave said:
    Had this in my own house in the 1980s. Installed a Jetmaster fire (trendy in those days!) and every time we lit it the smell of smoke came down the middle bedroom chimney where there was a gas fire.
    Tried a higher pot and fancy cowl thing, but in the end we just learned to keep the middle bedroom door closed, because nothing else we did worked.
    Sorry to be downbeat. If the chimney isn't used, I'd imagine a pot cap and variable restrictor at the fireplace end would lessen or remove the problem.
    Thanks. I've just spoken to a chimney sweep (our installers seem to be dismissing this), and they've suggested a cap and a chimney balloon, which we'll go for.  Fingers crossed.
    Interestingly my cousin pointed out that if we had continued to use our previous gas fire, their chimney would probably have been sucking down the fumes from that too.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Your installers cannot be held liable for individual circumstances beyond their control, especially ones that might not be foreseeable. The neighbour also has no contract with them, so it's for you/them to decide how this is handled and the costs apportioned.

  • kdotdotdotdotkdotdotdotdot Forumite
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    If the neighbours are below you, are you sure that the smell's coming from their chimney?  What's the flooring like in the room you've got the fire in?  Is it possible the faint smell is coming in that way?

    Chimneys are meant to 'draw', so should be sucking air out of the living room and up the chimney, not the other way round.
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