Chimney woes

I have made some bad decisions in my life, and since moving to Norfolk, it would seem I have made another one to add to the list. Many readers will recall the various tales of problems with the wood burning stove that we had installed. As there was no existing chimney, the pipework had to go through the ceiling in the living room, and out through the roof. We bought a quality stove, the best we could afford, and had the whole thing installed by a reputable company.

At first, it worked well. We sat contented in front of our lovely blaze, watching the flames flicker behind the glass door. The large living space was heated so well, that we rarely had to use the central heating system at the same time. It provided a focal point to an otherwise featureless room, and seemed to add to the overall feel of living in the countryside.

Then we began to see small water leaks appearing during very heavy rain. At other times, we had smoke entering the room, blown back by strong winds, that caused down-draughts. The installer came over, and completely rebuilt the whole system. We hoped that would solve the problem, but it didn’t. Long negotiations with the company supplying the equipment, the installer, and myself, eventually resulted in a suggestion. The chimney was not high enough to clear the roof-line, and that was causing the problems. This summer, we duly purchased an extension tube, and the outside of the chimney was increased by almost a metre. This left us with an unusually large chimney, on a one-story house. No matter, it seemed to work. Perhaps all the money spent was finally going to be worth it, and we had seen the end of over two years of problems. We lit the fire in October, and we were delighted to see it burning well, with no issues. We looked forward to a cosy winter ahead, enjoying the sensations offered by a real fire.

Today, it rained, for the first time in a while. It wasn’t light rain, but torrential, albeit for a short time. Later, I went into the living room, and discovered that water was once again leaking down the pipe, and splashing onto the top of the fire. I think if I was strong enough, I would rip out the whole thing with my bare hands, and throw it out onto the street, such is my frustration and annoyance. I have e mailed the installer, who has always done his best in the past. I know that he is running out of ideas though, as I am. I sit looking at the stove, sitting proudly in the centre of the side wall, unable to be used, mocking me with its coldness. I am also concerned about unseen water intrusion above, although I can find no evidence in the loft as yet. I can only see two options remaining. Throw more money at a problem that may never be cured, or have it all taken away, write off the money, and pretend that it never existed.

At the moment, I am too fed up to consider either of them.

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17 thoughts on “Chimney woes

    1. It seems that the water is running down the outside of the pipe, cover or not. It then finds its way into the roof space, continuing its journey through the seal, into the room. Water is truly amazing, unless it is inside your house!
      Thanks David, I will consider a larger cover as well.

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  1. Ouch Pete – this really stinks. I love a woodburner, but have only ever had one installed into a chimney. We have a gas one in our rental house which works pretty well and looks good too. A real fire is so lovely. I hope you get the problem fixed for the winter.

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  2. Sorry you’re having this problem. Hope it can be amended to your satisfaction and soon — winter is coming! Glad your installer is willing to put in the time he can to make it right. Best wishes for an easy fix and a heater that will keep you warm this winter.

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    1. I asked about some sort of angle when they installed it Ro. They said that there is not enough clearance in the loft. To my mind, a complete straight line will always have water running down it. But what do I know? At least the installer is going to try to rectify it, so fingers crossed!
      (You looked surprised in that photo x)

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  3. Dear Pete,
    oh dear, you have my full sympathy.
    Dina and I run a wood burner in our living room too. But it’s connected to a “real” chimney, a brick and mortar one. With the high winds and rain at our coast water came into my chimney as well. I changed it with another end bit (like a kind of lid) of my chimney pot and it’s fine for years now.
    With the old chimney pot I had birds nesting in my chimney. Big action: I had to rent a cherry picker to reach my chimney to get the nest out. Most of the time I used to understand how to operate this b…dy cherry picker.
    Anyway we all keep our fingers crossed and our dear Bookfayries send you bril ideas how to solve your problem. Good luck!
    With lots of love
    Klausbernd and Siri and Selma

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    1. Thanks KB. It does have a lid of sorts, a bit like a ‘Chinese hat. It is coming down the outside though. If it was inside, it wouldn’t be an issue, as that is expected, within reason. Let’s hope something can be done, before winter sets in.
      Best wishes from Beetley, Pete.

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  4. Oh dear, oh dear what a shit! I hope one of the readers can come up with the right advice now. Surely (hopefully) there’s must be something that you can do?? It reminds me of the problems with a leaking roof in the conservatory, KB tried all the things in the book, had workers coming in and going out and still on a day like today with torrential rain, we would have to place water collectors along the wall.
    Not until another firm from Norwich came and repaired it thoroughly did the conservatory turn into a cozy room, not a drop of water came through since then.
    We’ll keep our fingers that you find a waterproof solution as well, Pete!
    Best regards from the Four of us, Dina Xxxx
    P.S.
    If you are around in our area, please feel free to pop in for a cup of tea anytime, bring Julie and Ollie!

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    1. Thanks Dina. I contacted the installer, and he will try to sort it out for us, but in the meantime, no fire, and water dripping if there is heavy rain. At least the central heating is working OK! Glad to hear that your conservatory got sorted, and thanks for the invitation, I will definitely take you up on that one day. X

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  5. Oh dear!

    Personal story: we have a wood burning stove as well. When we installed it, the company said that we could have the indoor chimney painted in any color we wanted. We chose orange, so that it would blend with the wall.

    A year later, on a February morning, the indoor chimney took fire and thank God we had a fire extinguisher. The chimney was completely destroyed but the stove was OK.

    We called the installers who said “oh yes, the guy that we send the tubes for painting, told us a few weeks ago that his paint is not heat-resistant. We were thinking of calling you but …”

    You can imagine that we were flabbergasted and had him remove the indoor tubes and reinstall them with tubes WITHOUT paint, this time.

    Imagine that we have a dog and two cats indoors and that we often leave the stove slow-burning when going to bed. We could have burnt to death!

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    1. That’s a frightening tale indeed Nicholas. At least the black paint we have on our metal pipes is fireproof, The installer replied to my e mail this evening, and he said that he is determined to help us sort this out. At least that part of this story is good news…
      Best wishes, Pete.

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