Thatch Home insurance – Fire considerations

 With Spring upon us it’s an appropriate time to remind homeowners about the risks of fire. Recent stories of devastating fires have shown that as responsible risk advisors we need to demonstrate the risks and disruption to home life a fire causes to owners.

  • Make sure chimneys are swept in line with policy conditions
  • Make sure appliances are serviced and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements
  • Ensure that chimney liners are kept in good order (they needs to be surveyed every 5 years with CCTV – as per our policy conditions)
  •  Advise policyholders when lighting their fire – never use paper, cardboard or any material that may travel up the chimney and either set fire to it or the roof.
  • The fuel should always be seasoned dry hardwood; soft woods increase the risk of fire due to the resins within them and the speed at which they burn.
  •  Compressed Heat Logs – it is not advisable to use these in a solid fuel stove serving a thatched property as they are predominantly made from soft wood, can contain glue etc. They tend to send more sparks up the chimney when being burnt – this in its self greatly increases the risk fire to the property. Our advice here has to be please advise your clients not to use this sort of fuel.
  • Using a moisture meter is a good way of checking the moisture content of the wood that policyholders burn – never burn wet unseasoned wood.
  •  Don’t leave fire or solid fuel appliances unattended when initially lighting to ensure that it doesn’t burn too hot.
  • If the resident intends leaving the home ensure that the fire has died down and any solid fuel appliance is set to a low heat setting.
  • Think of the prevailing weather conditions – dry or windy weather (whether warm or cold) can mean a dry roof, increasing the risk of fire.
  • Chimney heights ideally greater than 1.8 meters (a minimum of 1 meter as per policy conditions) to the nearest point of thatch . Ensure policyholders think about this when re thatching or having any chimney repairs (always subject to planning / Listed consent etc.).
  • Bird Guards, spark arrestors etc. Any guard or arrestor should be kept clean and fully swept along with the chimney. Ideally they should not have a cap i.e. not cause the sparks / smoke to be deflected downwards towards the roof.