What heating systems require a building consent?

All solid and liquid space heaters (ie. wood, pellet or diesel burners) require a building consent. In most cases only one council inspection after the installation will be required to obtain your code of compliance certificate (unless you are installing into a chimney cavity, then the Selwyn and Waimakariri council specify two inspections – Pre installation and Post installation).

Rules governing the discharge to air from heaters being installed in the clean air rules of the Regional Authority (ECan) Air Plan (Canterbury Natural Resources Regional Plan - Chapter 3: Air Quality). Information regarding the location of clean air zones and their requirements is available from the ECan website here. This information includes a list of approved wood burning appliances and where they can be installed.

The appropriate building consent application form must be completed, fee paid, and the application approved before the fire is installed.

The application form requires a full plan of the house to be provided. This is to locate the burner, windows, emergency exit and also the position of smoke detectors that may be required. This plan must also include any sleepout on the property, and if an oil burner is used, show the position and details of the storage tank.

Manufacturers specifications on the log burner and flue make, model and installation specifications along with roof flashing also must be provided to support the consent application.

A Code Compliance Certificate must be issued before the burner is used. Please note that use of the burner before the issue of the Code Compliance Certificate may jeopardise your insurance.

 Applying for a consent yourself can be a bit daunting if your not familiar with the consent process of log burner specifications - not to worry though, we can handle all of that for you!

What heating systems do not require a building consent

  • Fixed electric space heaters do not require building consent, but must be installed by registered electricians who certify their own work.
  • Nightstore heaters do not require building consent, but must be installed by registered tradesman.
  • Heatpumps do not require building consent, but must be installed by registered tradesman.

Can I install a second-hand fire?

Yes. The fire will need to be re-certified by the manufacturer or an Approved Heating Engineer (US!) as to the condition of the fire and how the fire complies for emissions and a report provided with the application. This report must detail the age of the fire, anticipated life expectancy (approx. 15 yrs), and condition of the fire box, door, and other component parts. The fire will need to be installed with a new flue. Note: You should discuss the suitability of the fire with your Council.  

Standard of Documentation

All documentation submitted with your application must be accurately drawn to an appropriate scale for the job, be fully dimensioned and detail all materials to be used. Specifications for the building work are also required. The specification should further define the building work including details of all materials to be used, finishes, and equipment to be installed. Some key requirements to be aware of: □ Completed Building Consent Application Form. □ Installation instructions inc

How much are consent fees with each council?

Selwyn District SDC Consent charges: Solid Fuel Heater Application – Freestanding = $350 Solid Fuel Heater Application – Inbuilt = $500 (+ $15 for a certificate of title) Christchurch City Council CCC Solid or liquid fuel heaters Inbuilt and Free-standing (residential pre-approved models only) = $315 Waimakariri District Council Consent WDC Solid Fuel Heater Application – Freestanding = $290 Solid Fuel Heater Application – Freestanding = $410 (+ $15 for a certificate of title) Huranui District Council HDC Solid or liquid fuel heaters Inbuilt and Freestanding = $360 (+ $15 for a certificate of title) Ashburton District Council ADC Solid or liquid fuel heaters Inbuilt and Freestanding = $304


How can I fix my downdraft probelm?

It used to be called “downdraft”, and the quick fix was to “Add another 300mm length of flue, chop down the tree, or add an “H” top ‘. Today it’s called “negative pressure” and it’s what causes a smoking fire place- and affects the quality of the air in the living space. Houses today have become more "energy efficient" - meaning better insulated, and more airtight. Aluminium windows provide an almost perfect seal against drafts. And fans are everywhere! Power flues, clothes driers, extractor fans, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, microwaves, and computers all rely on fan assistance. Are there any buildings or trees are adjacent to the dwelling or flue termination point which could affect chimney operation? 

What other influences may affect air pressure within the home - unsealed fireplaces - extractor fans - clothes driers - central vacuum cleaning systems. How often and when are they used? Make sure that the home owner is aware of the correlation between fan operation and the possibility of negative pressure within the dwelling. It maybe that simply opening a window during fan operation may solve the problem - or a permanent air supply may be required. A simple smoke test may help to ascertain airflows around the heating appliance when extraction and other fans are operating.  You may want to consider installing a permanent air vent to allow fresh air into the home and to equalise inside and outside pressures.

A rule of thumb is that on a house with a good roof pitch, the flue should terminate about 600 mm above the ridge. A dwelling with a flat roof poses the worst pressure scenario. In this case a flue should terminate about 2 metres above the roof. Remember too that every bend which is put into the flue system reduces the potential flue pull, and the flue should be extended to take this into account as adequate air change is vital to ensure good appliance operation. 

Mentioned above, are a few basic points to investigate before going down the track of a flue extension of or an H cowl. 
The "H" top is the only cowl which may reduce the effects of true downdraft. But remember that true downdraft is rare, and, providing that the manufacturers chimney specifications are followed, in most cases negative pressure is caused by other factors.

How the Traditional OH Chimney Cowl Works

 The main flue ‘D’ projects into the horizontal flue ‘C’, thus there are three ejectors acting simultaneously and drawing out the smoke and fumes, whether the wind blows up or down the air shafts. So powerful is this action that gusts of wind blowing through the air shafts produce an up-draught equal to about 30% of the velocity of the gusts. In normal weather, the ‘O.H.’ Cowl possessing four outlets to the atmosphere improves any sluggish up draught.



What is the best way to light my log burner?

There are several steps required in order to get your log burner to perform to your heating expectations.


Get cleaning

The sort of cleaning you do before lighting a log burner is the best sort of cleaning job: you only have to do half a job. Leaving a little bit of ash is the most efficient way to light your log burner, but you will need to empty most of them to avoid blocking the circulation of air

Open your air vents

It would be pointless to clear all the ash to help the air circulation and then keep the vents closed. Opening the air vents or air control knob ensures the good supply of oxygen needed to get your fire going. Air Control Knobs are generally located on the side of your log burner or on the front.

Give yesterday’s newspaper a new lease of life

Some people say crumpled up into balls is best, others swear by strange folded up knots. Either way, newspaper is the best way to get your fire going. Anything between four and eight sheets should do the trick, but you can experiment to see what works best for you. Whatever your preferred method of compressing the newspaper, place it in the middle of your log burner box. You can add firelighters too at this stage should you wish, but trying your luck with just the newspaper is the most efficient way to light a fire.

Add kindling

Kindling is essentially very small pieces of dry wood. You use very small pieces of dry softwood such as pine or dry pine cones to start the fire because they burn much more easily than big pieces of dry wood. Scatter a handful of wood on top of the newspaper. Some people like to place the kindling lying across the newspapers in different directions, while others build a wigwam-like structure over the top of the newspaper.

Light your stove

The moment of truth. You’re trying to create a hot core in the centre of the fire bed that will spread outward and upward. Each stage - the paper, firelighters, kindling, and ultimately the fuel – is the next step towards building up the core temperature. Light the newspaper in a couple of places.

Once the paper is burning, close the door of your log burner. Some log burner manufacturers will suggest leaving the door ajar to increase the air supply. You can experiment to see what works best for your stove.

The purpose of the exercise is to create a fire that is powerful enough to light your fuel, but also to quickly heat the firebox so that your log burner begins heating the room more quickly.

Add your fuel

Once the fire is roaring and the kindling is beginning to char, you can add your main fuel to the fire which should be a medium/hardwood such as Oregon or Macrocarpa. That’s likely to be small logs at this stage. Don’t overload the firebox while the fire is still getting going and leave gaps to ensure you don’t smother the air supply to the burning kindling. Close the door again.

If everything has gone to plan, your wood burner should now be looking the part.

With a bit of practise, you can try to refine the lighting process using as little paper, firelighters and kindling as possible. This will help you find the most economical way of lighting your log burner.


And lastly..............Enjoy!

What sort of wood should I buy?

A Guide to Good Wood

Seasoned Fuel Is Important 
Fuel wood ranges from soft woods like Pine, to hardwoods like Manuka, Oregon or Macrocarpa. But whatever wood is chosen, the key to a successful fire is to ensure the fuel is as 'Dry', or as 'Seasoned', as possible.

Softwoods will season quite quickly, in about 6 to 8 months, but it can take up to 18 months for medium to hard woods such as Manuka, Oregon or Macrocarpa to dry to an acceptable level.

Another fuel option is compressed sawdust 'logs' which burn well in all appliances. These are naturally dried during the production process and they also come in easy to handle boxes. These logs must be kept dry to prevent absorption of water and subsequent disintegration, but they burn well. 

Do Not use treated timber or painted timber of any kind because the chemicals could pose a health hazard and be corrosive, even to brickwork. It is suggested that you make a careful examination of wood for a green or pink tinge, or markings to indicate chemical treatment. Old painted timber could also pose a threat if it has been painted with lead based paint. 

Drift wood should never be used as the salt borne wood will cause corrosion of the heater or flue system.

Expected annual usage

You can expect an estimated annual usage of 2-3 cubic metres of hardwood for whole house heating with a high efficiency heater.

What is a Solid Fuel Heating Appliance (SFHA)

Solid Fuel Heating Appliance (SFHA)

This is a term used to cover all heating devices using solid fuel, gas, diesel, oil or other liquid fuels having a net heat output of 40 kilowatts or less, regardless of the nature of the premises where the device is installed.

It includes open fires and enclosed burners such as woodburners.

How often should I have my flue swept?

To maintain optimum performance and safety of your log burner, regular flue sweeps and maintenance are essential.

Full Fire and Flue Service – Recommended every 3 years

  • Flue Sweep (as below)
  • Lubricate Components (Dampening Device, Door Latch, etc)
  • Maintenance Check
  1. Roof Flashing for water tightness
  2. Log Burner door and window seals for signs of wear and tear
  3. Ensure your firebricks are not cracked (these assist in ensuring your log burner is working at its optimum)
  4. Top Plate (Baffle)
  5. Air Tubes
  6. Fittings (Ceiling Plate, Flue Shield)
  7. Soundness of Flue
  8. Paint Touch Ups (not applicable to enamel fires)

Any broken parts that require fixing or replacing will not be included in your service price.


Flue Sweep – We recommend a flue sweep every year.

A good log burner service technician should carry out the below checks when sweeping your flue

  •  Remove Baffle
  • Clean Flue and Firebox of Soot
  • Glass Door Clean
  • Test Smoke Alarms

 It is important that you do not light your log burner for at least 8 hours prior to the log burner technician’s arrival.

Please also be considerate and clear firebox of excess ash prior to your flue sweep.

What is Creosote?

Creosote - Is product of incomplete combustion: deposits of unburned, flammable tar vapours from wood smoke. Sometimes it is crusty or flaky in texture, but often sticky or hard, like slag. Creosote deposits are often hard to remove from chimneys, and pose a serious fire hazard.

One of the great misunderstandings in the world of woodstoves is how creosote fits into the picture. Contrary to popular belief, creosote is not an inevitable product of wood burning. Creosote forms when wood is burned incompletely, and is an indication of improper use, poor installation, or a poor wood stove design. 

It is also extremely flammable, and is responsible for many chimney-related structural house fires each year. 

The long and the short of it... If you find a build-up of creosote in your stove pipe or chimney, have the chimney cleaned right away, and determine what's causing it.

There are three basic possibilities: 


Operating the stove at a too-low burn rate:

If you damper the stove way down, for a long, low burn, you will create a smoky fire that emits lots of unburned tar vapours into the venting system. Since the temperature of the flue gasses will already be relatively low, these vapours will be particularly likely condense inside the pipe or chimney flue. 

The solution is to keep the fire burning at a moderately-active rate. Go outside and check the flue. If lots of smoke is billowing from the chimney, you are burning it too low. Yes, this means you can't get as long a burn time from a load of wood, but you will actually get more heat from the same amount of wood, since creosote represents unburned fuel. You will also do your chimney and our environment a favour. 


Using the wrong type of fuel

Burning green, wet, or excessively dry wood can cause creosote build-up.


Oversized flue or improper connection

If the chimney isn't quickly drawing the combustion products to the outdoors, due to an oversized flue, an excessively-long stove pipe, or too many elbows in the stove pipe – all of which tend to increase the amount of time the smoke stays in the venting system – then the smoke will tend to condense in the flue, forming creosote. 

How do I clean the glass door on my log burner?

If the correct quality fuel is burnt in the right manner then the glass should stay relatively clean, the air wash which passes down the inside of the door will literally scrub off any deposits during the burn cycle.  If the glass is becoming dirty then scrunch up 2 pieces of damp newspaper, dip one in cold fire ashes and rub over the inside of glass, use the other one to rub over glass to clean dirt off.  If you do this in the morning before rekindling the fire the glass will be coolish at this time.  To help keep the glass clear if it is becoming dirty then get into the habit of cleaning it very regularly as this will maintain the glass and prevent ashes from being fused onto the glass due to intense heat in the firebox.

Can I use a Heat Transfer Kit?

The simple answer is yes; these kits are becoming very popular and can work very well in the right situation.  However it is worth noting that in newer homes which have much better seals around doors and windows etc. these kits can cause a negative pressure to build up in the room the fire is in as all the air is being sucked out resulting in the fire being starved of air and in some cases has even caused smoke from the starving fire being drawn back into the room, this same effect can also be caused by powerful range hoods and other fan forced systems in newer, more air tight housing.