Fireplaces: Style & Safety

by Media Xpose

There’s nothing more appealing as the shadows lengthen and the leaves fall, than being able to bask in the warm glow of a hearth in the home. Want that experience? Here’s what you need to know.

TO BUILD has done an internet round-robin of some of the styles currently available from various national suppliers to give you some inspiration during the cooler months ahead.

A word on chimneys, flues and safety

Installing or retrofitting a fireplace, such as the sleek modern models featured, is a specialised job that should preferably be undertaken by an experienced installer. In order to avoid a roof fire, which commonly occurs in South Africa, there are certain things that you need to know.

It starts with understanding the building regulations, SANS 10400 Part V: Space Heating, specifically.

For the designer and builder to know, these regulations reference various standards, including:

  • SANS 10177-5, Fire testing of materials, components and elements used in buildings Part 5: Non- combustibility at 750 °C of building materials.
  • SANS 10400-A, The application of the National Building Regulations Part A: General principles and requirements.
  • SANS 10400-B, The application of the National Building Regulations Part B: Structural design.

According to the helpful website, www.SANS10400.co.za, chimneys must be designed and erected from materials that are non-combustible, understandably so. It is of critical importance to safety that they don’t become a fire hazard, particularly to those materials adjacent to the chimney structure. Further, chimneys should not be reinstalled in shafts or ducts that might be affected by heat.

Another commonly-occurring hazard is where the flue, the steel or other metal pipe that acts as a chimney, passes through the ceiling and the actual roof. Specialised collars must be fitted to avoid leakage of rain into the roof and very important, to avoid a roof fire, especially above the ceiling. 

Timber is one of the most combustible materials found in homes, and the regulation states that elements including joists for timber floors, trimmers or roof trusses may not be built within 200mm of the inside of any chimney. Special care should be taken that no roof insulation touches the flue or comes within the designated 200mm of it. Care must also be taken that the flue pipe is highly insulated from the ceiling board.

Fireplace by Jetmaster (www.jetmaster.co.za)

Retrofitting sense

In short, for an installation,  your starting point will be consulting the owner’s manual for your fireplace appliance, be it a wood-burning open hearth, a closed fireplace, a stove or even a gas fire.

Different fireplaces and stoves have varying venting requirements. These requirements involve more than just the kind of pipe you need; it also includes specific information regarding clearances and offsets that must be followed for safe and proper installation. If anything in your manual is unclear or confusing, contact the manufacturer of your appliance directly for clarification and preferably use a professional installer.

Fireplace by Jetmaster

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