Q&A Facebook page

We are pleased to announce the new interactive NACE Q&A Facebook page which can be accessed here.

You are invited to use this facility for technical, legal, mechanical, fire risk and/or safety, installation or document interpretation advice.

The NACE Facebook page has been designed for the professional and for those who require further technical and mechanical advice.

Please use the new NACE Q&A system. Although not a forum, you are more than welcome to leave constructive comments on the page or email to facebook@nace.org.uk should you feel these are necessary. We will certainly consider all responses carefully.

Samples of recent posts:

FOI ACT - IT'S YOUR RIGHT!!Think schemes and the like are sacrosanct and cannot be FOI Act challenged? think again!Under the FOI Act, anyone has the right to request any recorded information held by public authorities (eg government departments, local councils, health authorities etc) or by businesses that carry out public functions (Competent Person Schemes)This right applies to all information held - not just a public body's official documents. It can apply to the intellectual property of a business and confidential information, if this type of information is held on their records.More importantly, if you contract with a public body, (schemes contract with and to MHCLG a public body) any information they hold or share may be subject to a Freedom of Information request.Therefore, if you think a scheme is holding information on you that may prove detrimental to you personally, your business, your credit rating etc you have a legal right to demand they share this with you, we cannot of course guarantee the outcome.NACE use a number of recognised on-line search engines to access FOI Act support and template assistance in the UK and in Europe, these services are free and can be accessed easily. The current FOI Act (2000) instrument can be accessed by clicking on the following link;www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/36/enacted/data.pdfAnyone wishing to make an FOI request and who may require help doing so should contact our team for assistance; admin@nace.org.uk ...
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STATUTORY POWERS - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICERSNACE are regularly asked to explain the role of the Environmental Health officer and the powers these officials have with regard to enforcement and rights of entry where a smoke nuisance has or is occurring, the following based upon our extensive case history and working knowledge of this organisation should prove to be of some assistance;The Food Safety & Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 section 16 governs the powers of entry for Environmental Health Officers, section 17 makes provision in the event of their obstruction from exercising their powers.Section 16 states –(1) An authorised officer of a food authority, on producing, if so required, some duly authenticated document showing authorisation, has a right at all reasonable hours –(a) to enter any premises within the authority’s area, for the purpose of ascertaining whether there is, or has been on the premises, any contravention of the provision of the Hygiene Regulations or Regulations 178/2002;(b) to enter any premises, whether within or outside the authority’s area, for the purposes of ascertaining whether there is on the premises, any evidence, of any such contravention within the area; and(c) to enter any premises for the purpose of the performance by the authority, of their functions over Hygiene Regulations or Regulation 178/2002Admission to a private dwelling house may not be demanded as of right, unless twenty four hours’ notice of the intended entry has been given to the occupier.A local authority can also obtain a warrant from the local Justices, if it is anticipated that there will be a refusal of entry, or if premises are otherwise unoccupied.Authorised officers may inspect any record (in whatever form they are held) relating to a food business. Where these are held electronically, any computer or associated apparatus may be inspected, and a person having charge of any computer, apparatus or material must afford such assistance as is reasonably required.Officers can seize and detain any records which may be required as evidence in proceedings including records stored in electronic form which must be produced in a form suitable for their removal. Section 17 states –Any person who –Intentionally obstructs a person acting in the execution of the Hygiene Regulations or Regulation 178 / 2002; orWithout reasonable cause, fails to give to any person acting in the execution of the Hygiene Regulations or Regulation 178 / 2002 or any assistance or information which that person may reasonably require of them for the performance of their functions under the Hygiene RegulationsCommits an offence.Any person who, in purported compliance with any requirement as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (b) of Paragraph (1)-Furnishes information which they know to be false or misleading in a material particular; orRecklessly furnishes information which is false or misleading in a material particularCommits an offence.Section 19 provides:A person guilty of an offence under regulation 17 is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both. ...
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FLAT/PITCHED & VAULTED ROOF INSTALLATIONS – DO THEY APPLY TO YOU?NACE are registering an unhealthy rise in appliance installation work to and on flat/pitched/vaulted roofs and where these involve the fitting of a new twin wall chimney system.There are four major factors that need to be taken into account before proceeding with any flat/pitched/vaulted roof installation, these are:1/ Sufficient termination height2/ Fire risks3/ Penetration4/ Notifiable building work 1/ There is sufficient access to both regulatory and best practice advice as well as standards that make it clear that twin wall chimney systems fixed through a single story flat/pitched and/or vaulted roof must actively terminate above ridge height or there must be evidence (test evaluation) to prove otherwise, this amounts to installation design liability. The fitting together of two or more manufacturers components does not signify either competence in the subject area or that a particular regulatory standard has been met, furthermore, when a certificate is issued against flat/pitched and/or vaulted roof installation work by a scheme on behalf of their registrant and then such work found to be non-compliant and/or representative of a risk/danger this certification becomes immediately ‘Null & Void’, assuming there is no personal liability attached to shoddy, inept and/or defective workmanship is an illusion. Merely installing a few manufactured components in a flat/pitched and/or vaulted roof space doesn’t immediately suggest what’s been carried out will automatically work under any condition or that an installation is safe, combustions products will adequately disperse to atmosphere and will not represent a risk to the building owners or create a nuisance to neighbouring properties. Application to an Approved Document is a limited method of applying a common sense approach to how these regulations can be met, they are not a ‘DIY’ guide on where, what, why and how to carry any particular activity, this certainly refers to fire risk, meteorological weather conditions, ground topography and nuisance potential or how to professionally mitigate any of these risks. Of 125 registered scheme installed flat/pitched and/or vaulted twin-wall chimney system installations inspected over an 18 month period more than 85% were found to be poorly designed and installed with terminations below full ridge height of a main domicile, these installations represent the propensity for nuisance to occur and failure of appliances to operate correctly.In many instances, termination height design was found to be both inadequate and mechanically inept, beggaring belief that the products of combustion could ever have reached beyond gutter level thus safely disperse to atmosphere. These cases are further exacerbated by having hapless numbers of restrictive cowls fitted without a shred of concern or idea that these will reduce flue gas flow/speed and depending on weather conditions the dispersal of products of combustion into surrounding properties the route cause in many nuisance instances. Poor termination height and system design appear in some instances to have created as much of a risk and nuisance to the appliance owners themselves than to any surrounding property. 2/ Single story timber roof structures represent a direct fire hazard, their design and method of construction make these environments an ideal and convenient conduit for fire to occur and then to travel in various directions or to an adjoining building. Many flat roofs are covered with a bituminous asphalt material or an epoxy resin of one type or another, both materials highly flammable, pitched roofs will have battens and possibly a vapour barrier fitted, vaulted roofs will have very little in the way of fire protection, however, this must be provided. The fitting of a waterproof lead collar or ‘flashing’ to an eternal roof structure will not provide any form of long term protective barrier should a fire occur neither will such fitting provide longevity against water/moisture ingress and penetration.BSEN15287 gives clear table indication with regard to minimum distances to a combustible surface in relation to the positioning and installation of an insulated twin-wall chimney system and where these are installed in and/or to a domestic environment.Very few installations allow for basic pre-installation fire design and/or fire protection, those carrying out such work apply the simplest of methods that would on inspection fail to provide even a half hour resistance to fire spread, those that follow offering even less intelligent fire risk explanation. Dangerous self-opinion on an expert subject without any pre-requite skill or knowledge of; installation design, heat transition, topography, atmospheric weather patterns, thermal ignition, wind shear, combustion route, flame/fire spread and how to keep these to a minimum or better still, avoid them altogether remains a distance objective unattainable to most. 3/ In nearly 90% of flat/pitched and/or vaulted roof cases investigated by NACE, twin-wall chimney systems were found to have penetrated through third party manufactured/installed roof fabric/material such as; Bitumen Felt, Resin Bond/Epoxy and/or Glass Fibre, some or all of these products representing through ignition a direct fire risk, notwithstanding that any penetration through a third party roof material would immediately ‘Null & Void’ its guarantee.It would be therefore wise to seek and thus gain product manufacturers guidance and acceptance with regard to any intended installation design that penetrates an engineered roof surface. The same applies to the consumer who has a legal right under contract to competent advice on procedure, method, fire risk and safety.4/ An alteration to the structure of a load-bearing roof where pre-designed manufactured timber components are altered and/or re-engineered to allow for the installation of a twin-wall chimney system will require, if the building is attached to a main domicile, building control approval irrespective of scheme membership which does not recognise such work within the current MTC framework or within its own limitations will be a necessary requirement. Out buildings, sheds and other garden style accommodation although falling outside of regulatory control will still require reference to current fire regulations, prior to any garden installation taking place it must be determined if such intended work will cause a nuisance and/or represent a danger to the target property/outbuilding and/or to surrounding properties irrespective of accommodation and use status be this permanent, semi-permanent or occasional. An installation of an appliance and twin-wall chimney system to an out building/log cabin and/or garden shed type structure unattached to a main domicile will not require a worthless scheme certificate nor will it attract interest from local authority, what will tie the fitting of such equipment to the individual is identifiable levels of incompetence, negligent methods of workmanship, poor mechanical design and non-existent pre-installation guidance/audit trail evidence, certainly where such installations become elements within a registered dispute the fitter/installer will be always be held liable. Ultimately, we appear to have groups where no one person is more qualified or knowledgeable than another yet quite often the very same groups and individuals feel it necessary to share their warped ideas of procedure, compliance and method with the rest of us as if these opinions have by some mysterious sleight of hand become an overnight religion that magically then attracts a following, unfortunately current ‘fag packet’ learning levels continue in plain sight of any other warranted type of theory expertise or education, hardly the basis for claiming excellence at all.In three current nuisance and one fire loss case, scheme fitters have been found to have installed stoves, chimney systems and other contraptions into a high fire risk garden buildings with no idea of fire protection one having completely been destroyed when the rear of an appliance transferred sufficient enough levels of heat to the surrounding timber structure whereby this fully ignited encompassing the entire building in less than eleven minutes, thankfully the owners dog and two children were not resident at the time. Three more garden installations have been proven to have caused a direct smoke nuisance leading to abatement orders being served on the owners thus domestic disputes registered with solicitor/local authorities with one particular recipient (a lifelong respiratory/Asthma sufferer) now taking independent legal action against the fitter/business.It is essential if held liable to prove competence, this is NOT achieved through ‘van badge’ membership, the bunging in of a stove or similarly a liner down a flue shaft no matter how may times this is carried out, but by having taken every precaution possible to mitigate risk, to have confirmed the health and wellbeing of the consumer and those around the target property, having made records and provided quality logical and competent information/advice provided to the property owner whilst employing a clarity of thought where good practice, responsibility and a duty of care come before profit. ...
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CAN I INSTALL A STOVE AND CHIMNEY IN MY CAT LITTER TRAY? WELL, ANYTHINGS POSSIBLE MATE!Since the beginning of lockdown last year NACE has received in excess of 190 consumer inquiries surrounding the installation of appliances and chimney systems to outbuildings, sheds, log cabins, caravans, mobile homes notwithstanding every type of independent and/or converted accommodation and/or storage space including a request to install a small stove and chimney in an outside toilet.Many of these installations occurring without a thought to fire risk, safety, impact or necessity, the overbearing and obvious failure in such instances is not merely having the good sense to simply ‘walk away’ but the lunacy of taking on installation work that is doomed to fail! in particular asphyxiation whilst enjoying a quite moment in the little room with your pipe! Joking aside, this level of pretend competence is demonstrated on a daily basis.In instances where, if not fully conversant with the potential for failure, installation work should not be carried out. Quite simply this type of work does occur because a ‘this can be bolted to that’ mentality is employed and not much else. It would appear that common logical sense with technical competence commonly ‘leaves the building’ when a few £’s are on offer. Blindly poking an appliance in an ‘any old hole will do’ environment or lets face it one of life's most likely environments for a unintentional 'bonfire' to occur is a catastrophe guaranteed to occur. In an ongoing case (with two garden installations currently under investigation) a consumer in the North-West has received an abatement summons in the post which appears to be a somewhat heavy handed response to a smoke nuisance complaint made by several of his near neighbours within three weeks of installation completion. The installation of a stove and accompanying chimney system installed into a log cabin affair in the consumer’s garden did not appear to concern the scheme fitters, interestingly neither did a pre-requisite fire /safety risk assessment oddly missing from the their one page estimate and DIY survey, subsequently, when the appliance was fuelled and ignited smoke was seen to emit from the chimney system terminal/cowl (fixed in a horizontal fashion) this nuisance shared amongst the neighbouring properties triggered the complaint. We wonder if the chimney system terminating less than 10ft from ground level could have possibly contributed to this registered nuisance?There simply is no guidance regulatory or otherwise, there are however a number of statutory instruments that do affect this type of work as well as domestic fire regulations and of course some BSEN's. One could of course argue that it was the responsibility of the owner to have researched the intended project beforehand or as a layperson rely upon one of a thousand look-a-like businesses to advise him accordingly, this consumer however happened to be drawn to one particular scheme who he assumed had some regulatory status and therefore placed misguided faith in one of its members who assured this consumer they knew all there was with regard to garden installation work as well as cabin construction. Unfortunately, as with many of the complaint cases we receive this consumer had failed to be informed that scheme membership does not come with a guarantee of competence or workmanship excellence or in fact environmental good practice, what he did subsequently find out was that scheme registrants and other private club members are not held liable for their actions (or lack of them) consequently this has left the consumer stranded ( and now facing the possibility of an abatement order being served upon him) with no other recourse other than to consider civil court procedure against the installer/business for design negligence.It is well known that a standalone outbuilding; a) That is not attached to a main domicileb) That does not have attached to it services such as electricity, gas and water c) That does not form part or in whole a listed property or a property of historical importanced) That is not used as a liveable habitat or for the purpose of rent/hire will fall completely outside of building and planning compliance, there is no regulatory guidance or best practice for these types of installation neither is there a DIY manual where regulatory compliance can be met other than reference to the above instruments and to current domestic fire regulations. However, when such installations take place an adherence to fire risk and safety assessment should not be ignored, neither can compliance with the EPA or the CAA, two very important environmental instruments be overlooked. In view of any competent guidance for such projects property owners would be best advised to have any intended ‘off-grid’ installation accepted by their insurer beforehand notwithstanding PII certification provided by the intended installer/fitter business. Installations that take place in a single story garden environment are guaranteed to cause issues ranging from lack of draught to one or more irritating smoke nuisances experienced by those without either a stove or a chimney system! Quite simply, is the topography of the target property likely to cause operational difficulties, does the chimney system installed fail to exceed ridge height of the target property, will atmospheric/meteorological weather patterns for the area cause smoke and PM2.5 to ingress through window openings and doors of both target as well as surrounding properties? Is there a non-mandatory cowl fitted likely to restrict flue gas and combustion products from evacuation? If there is a resounding yes to one or more of these fitters will most likely be held liable (CMR’s) for design defect and/or faults as well as poor positioning/ termination of the chimney system, your client will also look to the fitter for liability certainly in cases where a consumer is issued with a third party summons.The same applies to those carrying out DIY ‘surveys’ when none appear to be members of the RICS or display a shred of surveying expertise. Anyone found liable of carrying out a ‘survey’ whether it be formal or otherwise instead of having merely carried out an observation will, where damage, loss and/or an injury occurs be held liable and quite rightly so, the embarrassment will then fall upon those having to quantify their role as a surveyor and then to prove ‘due diligence’ in this role was employed. Acting as a surveyor or basing ones opinion on a survey has dire consequences if not properly insured, those carrying out this function simply do so at their own risk and on the flimsiest of premise based upon nothing more than an attendance certificate.This level of incompetence has already gained significant government interest in light of forthcoming ‘Competence Standards’ and BSI 8670 release. The installation of an appliance and erection of a chimney system requires little if any pre-requisite intelligence, what does appear to be missing is the scientific element that few if any consider or employ before this type of work commences, just because a stove and a chimney system can be merely installed doesn’t mean it will work, doesn’t mean it won’t represent a health and safety issue, doesn’t mean it won’t represent a fire risk, doesn’t mean it won’t cause ingress of toxic and carcinogenic matter to invade other properties and doesn’t mean it won’t create a smoke nuisance, if in doubt avoid the risk of litigation avoid the installation unless you can prove it won’t cause a nuisance, won’t become a health hazard, won’t become a fire risk and won’t harm the operator/user and wont null void an insurance claim.Employing a train of thought that a Defra Approved Appliance mitigates installer liability is a dangerous, short-sighted error of judgement. These appliances although designed and tested in a sanitary/bench test environment are not entirely fool proof, they can, if incorrectly operated, run at incorrect temperatures, wrongly fuelled and refuelled, are poorly installed with even poorer chimney system design likely to cause dense smoke to emit and/or the sense/smell of smoke to occur, this complainant was told that his Defra appliance couldn’t cause any of these, sadly for the fitter (having surveyed the property and then overlooked surveying adjoining neighbours, topography and atmospheric weather conditions) is now being held liable for poor design and ever poorer installation methods exacerbated with cowl restriction guaranteed to aid and abet smoke causing a locally enjoyed experience.The consumer according to his insurer would not have been covered had his cabin have ‘burned down’ simply because he had failed to inform his insurer of the intended work before it commenced. It further transpired on investigation that the insurer, had they known of the potential for a nuisance to occur would have similarly refused cover.There is woefully inadequate guidance and/or access to competent methods and procedures when intending to install potentially lethal equipment into what is a high fire risk environment, it is the responsibility of the fitter/installer and anyone else connected to such installation work to have planned and then carried out sufficient research to make the intended project viable by way of reference to statutory and regulatory instrument, test evaluation, design and risk assessment acceptable to a consumers insurance company. ...
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HOW TO GET IT RIGHT: REMOVING A CHIMNEY THE RIGHT WAYOne of the most common internal alterations carried out is to remove an obsolete chimney breast at ground floor to create more floor space. Quite often the chimney is also removed at first floor level leaving just the roof void and external section of the chimney in place. Building Regulations apply to this work because it is a ‘material alteration’ to the structure ensuring the remaining part of the stack is properly supported.If the entire chimney is removed it is essential to take professional advice to determine the structural implications. Planning permission may also be needed for its removal.Care needs to be taken where this work also falls into work covered under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and notice needs to be served on the adjacent property. This is so that shared flues and structural adequacy can be considered before work starts.Click on this link; youtu.be/HF1pHzGkSC4The clip serves as a visual reminder of the significance of getting it wrong! Fortunately everyone was out of the building but unfortunately too late to arrive at a solution to save the chimney. REMOVING A CHIMNEY To remove a chimney breast at ground or first floor you must first support the chimney adequately. The stack must be properly supported and the gallows bracket illustrated below is a common method. GALLOWS BRACKETS SHOULD ONLY BE CONSIDERED IF………a) The stack is not completely vertical (i.e. a gathered flue to a central stack)b) The neighbours’ chimney breast on the other side of the party wall has not been removed (or partly removed) and is structurally sound. If it has then the whole of the chimney above the roof should be removed and the roof made good as there is a possibility that the party wall may only be 100mm thick above the ceiling line.c) The party wall supporting the gallows bracket is a minimum of 215mm thick, in brickwork, and in sound condition.d) The maximum width of the chimney breast is less than 1200mm. For wider chimney breasts a structural engineer should be consulted.d) The chimney breast should project no more than 340mm into the room.e) The chimney is no more than two storeys high plus roof space.f) The relevant notices required under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 have been served on the adjoining owner (where the chimney is on a party wall).THINGS YOU NEED TO CONSIDER WHEN REMOVING A CHIMNEY 1) The bracket members should be 75mm x 75mm x 6mm mild steel angles with 6mm fillet shop welded joints with the angles pre-drilled to take a minimum of 2no M12 chemical or resin anchor bolts. (e.g. Chemfix or similar).2) The bolts must be drilled into sound brickwork, not mortar joints. The condition of the brickwork is critical and there may be areas of the country where this option may not be acceptable to building control due to known problems.3) A plate (e.g. 10mm steel plate) should be placed on the top of the brackets to prevent soot and debris falling from the remaining chimney.4) The minimum height of the retained chimney breast below the roof line must be equal to or greater than the height of brickwork above the roofline. (See diagram below).5) To ensure any rain or condensation passing into the flue will dry out by natural convection; the chimney pot should be capped with a ventilated cowl and insertion of an air brick at lower level.6) Hearths at ground or first floor level should be removed. Additional timber joists must be installed and adequately supported by the existing timber floor trimming joists. INSERTION OF STEEL BEAM/SWhere gallows brackets are unsuitable then the use of a structural steel beam or beam and posts may be required. This will involve the submission of structural calculations by your structural engineer to justify the design and size of the steelwork.FIRE PROTECTIONAny gallows brackets or steel beams used should be provided with a minimum of 30 minutes fire protection (unless they are fully within the roof above the ceiling). The easiest way to achieve 30 minutes fire resistance to steelwork in domestic properties is to use two layers of 9.5mm plasterboard with a skim coat or a single layer of 15mm Gypsum fire line or similar fire rated plasterboard. Plaster adhesive dabs is not an acceptable fixing method and mechanical fixing will be needed. MAINTENANCE OF THE NEIGHBOURS CHIMNEYIf the separation between flues is damaged during removal there is a possibility of carbon monoxide or dioxide leaking from the neighbour’s flues. All poor brickwork should be replaced and re-pointed and, if possible, a smoke test carried out on the neighbour’s flue to check for any leakage. FINALLY, YOU SHOULD NOT CONSIDER ANY OF THESE* Corbelled Brickwork – into existing brickwork should not be attempted as it will not be possible to gain a sufficiently strong bond between the new and existing brickwork.* Timber bearers onto the existing floor or ceiling joists – as the point load passed onto the floor or ceiling timbers will be significant and may lead to collapse. ...
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