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Planning and noise guidance

Domestic solid heating flues/chimneys

Flues/chimneys serving domestic heating appliances give rise to emissions of smoke. Whilst there are no smoke control areas within the South Northamptonshire district it is important to ensure that any products of combustion can be safely dispersed so as not to cause a smoke nuisance to any neighbouring properties.

Where a smoke problem from a chimney/flue occurs on a regular basis and is persistent we can investigate under statutory nuisance provisions. Complaints are more likely to be received when:

  • The flue/chimney is installed in an inappropriate location
  • There is a material defect in the installation
  • An inappropriate fuel is being burnt which it was not designed for
  • The heating appliance is not being used/serviced, maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions or sufficiently cleaned; and/or
  • The flue/chimney is not maintained or sufficiently cleaned

On occasions smoke may not disperse directly upwards from a flue/chimney. This can be for several reasons:

  • Initial light up of a fire - Solid fuel heating appliances need time to achieve an optimal operating temperature. This temperature promotes effective dispersal of the combustion products.
  • Downdraughts - Smoke plumes can disperse directly downwards from the exhaust point as a result of pressure variations between the inside and outside of the building. Downdraughts can also be caused where the airflow around a chimney is impeded due to the presence of taller trees/buildings nearby.
  • Certain weather conditions such as a temperature inversion can also impede the upward dispersal of a smoke plume. These conditions typically occur on cold sunny/foggy mornings/days in the winter and spring for example.

Therefore, careful consideration should be given to the positioning and height of any flue/chimney serving a heating appliance. Regard should be given to the prevailing wind conditions for that location and proximity and height of neighbouring properties relative to the exhaust point of the flue serving the heating appliance.

To avoid the possibility of a statutory nuisance occurring it is recommended that any flue/chimney serving a solid fuel heating appliance should extend above the roof ridge height of the building to which it is attached, and the exhaust height be positioned more than 20 metres from the openings on neighbouring properties.

The heating appliance and flue should also be installed, operated, and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Flues/chimneys serving solid fuel heating appliances are covered under provisions of Part J from Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations 2010 and further advice should be sought from Building Control.