Most people are puzzled as to why their Carbon Monoxide or Smoke Alarm starts beeping after they’ve gone to bed.
When this happens, they’ve usually made one common mistake – they’ve closed down all the air controls on their multi fuel stove or woodburner.
Their rationale is that fire is ‘dangerous’ and therefore it should be extinguished before you go to bed.
Well, that’s true up to a point. But ‘damping down’ the stove is the wrong way to do it.
Let me explain…
All fuels need a certain amount of oxygen to burn efficiently. When you close the air controls, you are reducing the oxygen available.
What many don’t realise is that the fuel will still burn, but at a much lower rate.
When this happens, the energy in the fuel stops being converted into heat. It instead becomes smoke.
And that changeover starts triggering a problem.
You now have a chimney with smoke, but reducing amounts of heat. Not only that, as it gets later into the night, outside air temperatures tend to steadily reduce.
These three elements start to affect the ‘draw’ of the chimney.
So any smoke which is given off from the fuel suddenly cannot travel up the chimney (because of the lack of draw), and therefore starts lingering in the stove for longer.
Eventually, if there is too much, the smoke will come through the stove’s air vents and back into the room.
And, bingo, it sets off your Carbon Monoxide Alarm.
This issue can affect any chimney, but those at greater risks are:
– Factory made made twin wall insulated systems (chimney ‘pipes’)
– Shorter chimneys
– Traditional chimneys in exposed locations such as on the gable end of properties
– Fireplaces in rooms without sufficient ventilation
The best way to make a fire go out is actually to do the exact opposite of what most people think – and that’s to open all the air controls.
This allows maximum oxygen into the fire, meaning it can burn faster and more efficiently.
Closing air controls on a stove doesn’t dampen down a fire, it just prolongs it. The exact opposite to what you want.
Remember, it’s always best to get a qualified sweep in so they can give you bespoke advice about your system.
After all, Carbon Monoxide Alarms can be triggered by serious issues within the chimney, so it pays to have it checked by a professional.
But, once that has been done and you’re ready to start burning again, always allow as much air into your stove as possible when you’re going to bed.
That way it will burn out faster, more efficiently… and with much less chance of triggering your Carbon Monoxide Alarm at 2 O’Clock in the morning!
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a fully qualified sweep and a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, based in the Manchester and South Lancs area