Are log burners more dangerous than open fires?

Perhaps newspaper is best used to start your fire, not rumors…

thatched cottage in England


Reece Toscani responds to a misleading article declaring log burners are more dangerous than open fires, and are likely to raise home insurance prices. 

We came back to work this morning to a typical clickbait headline on a popular ‘news’ and entertainment outlet.

‘Log burners send home insurance through the roof: Premiums can soar by hundreds of pounds because they are ‘more dangerous than open fires.’’

Blimey, what a welcome back that was…

The jist of the article is that one man saw his insurance bill rise by £300 when he had two installed into his house with a thatched roof. Helpfully, a spokesperson for his insurer, NFU Mutual, then goes on to say that an insurer’s approach to insuring a house is down to the opinion of the insurer. Apparently stoves can generate much higher temperatures than open fires and send more live sparks up the chimney.

As a reputable dealer in all things fireplace products I feel it is our duty to set the record straight here (and to perhaps discredit the whole article).

It is most unlikely that insurers would be quick to urge you to discard your stove because they wouldn’t want sparks to go up the chimney, because while less sparks are likely to go up the chimney with an open fire, more sparks are likely to be thrown into the room. Soft furnishings are more likely to catch fire than a well-insulated, lined, brick chimney. Or that a spark will remain dangerous by the time it reaches the top of the chimney, manages to get past some kind of cowl or wind guard and then on to a roof, which is likely to be damp and cold due to the time of year you’d be using the stove. And if you happen to have a thatched roof then we recommend the use of a spark guard which captures the spark at the top of the chimney before it can wreak havoc on the roof. Open fires are only dangerous in the same way your car is. If you use it correctly and take sensible precautions you will be safe.

barbas-universal-5-65-houtkachel-houthaard-2The second issue with this article is that thatched roofs are not common in this country anymore. And by ‘anymore’ I mean since the Middle Ages. So for the article to imply that every homeowner with a log burner will see their insurance go up is just misleading.

The information that is worth taking from this article is the advice that you should get your stove installed by a HETAS fitter, otherwise your insurance could be void in the event of a fire. We always recommend getting your stove installed by a HETAS registered engineer.

So in conclusion, there may very well be some risk for a spark to be drawn up the chimney and onto a thatched roof and start a fire – but the likelihood of that, and the damaging and incorrect headline that is so freely sent out to be read by the masses is wrong. The moral of the story here, as it ever is, is not to believe what you read. Perhaps newspaper is best used to start your fire, not rumors.

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