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How to avoid dodgy flue paperwork

Would you buy a car without a log book? Of course you wouldn’t.

We’d all do our due diligence before handing over large sums of cash for a new car, such as checking that the log book was authentic and that all the serial numbers in the documentation matched up with the vehicle.

Well, believe it or not, the same isn’t happening for some commercial flue and chimney systems.

In some cases, contractors are getting the equivalent of photocopied log books, and some aren’t getting any paperwork at all – despite the fact that it became a mandatory part of CE marking nearly two years ago.

It’s only when the flue breaks down or, worse, it’s involved in an accident that contractors look at the small print and realise they’ve bought a dud, as the paperwork isn’t actually worth the paper it’s printed on.

When it comes to paperwork, here’s a guide to what to look out for.

1. A unique CE mark

Every company that has gone through the process of being CE marked – which involves making sure all processes and products meet the standard, as well as undergoing almost forensic scrutiny – is given a unique CE mark number that it can use on all its documentation, from paperwork to the stickers that can be placed on products.

Ours is 0086.

Any documentation that simply has the CE initials on is counterfeit.

2. Has it got a sticker on it?

An authentic CE-marked flue system should have the correct identification (usually a sticker) on each component part.

And for large systems, that’s an awful lot of stickers.

We were the only company in the UK to achieve the CE mark for complete flue systems from the first day the regulations came in during July 2013.

In theory, we only need to display one sticker – even on projects the size of the Shard – but it’s our best practice to put stickers on the key points of our systems.

This means that anyone entering a plant room can easily and quickly recognise fully-compliant flue systems

So, if there’s no sticker, then alarm bells should be ringing.

3. Key information on stickers

There should be four key items of information on every sticker:

  • The name of the company that made the flue system
  • Contact details for the manufacturer
  • A designation number
  • A directional flow arrow to indicate which way the exhaust gases travel away from the CHP systems

4. Check for cut and shut

In keeping with the log book analogy, it’s important to do a visual inspection of a flue system to check for cut and shuts – where substandard parts are used instead of genuine parts.

We have noticed a rise in the amount of industry anecdotes where non-standard parts have been fitted.

This is because most flue companies use standard component parts that are CE marked but will knock up their own bespoke parts to fit non-standard installations.

5. Check the itemised paperwork against the specification

Legitimate CE mark documentation that is presented to the customer upon completion should itemise all aspects of the flue system.

This should correspond exactly with the specification and technical drawings.

John Hamnett is a director at A1 Flue Systems

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