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advice on neighbours smoke from chimney issue

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RobinBHM

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Hi all,

My Mother In law lives in a detached bungalow.

her neighbour has a wood fire.
when he uses it, the smoke comes out of his chimney and comes down the roof to the passage way between his house and my MILs

and my MIL has hers air intake for her gas central heating and also her bedroom window.

the smoke comes in and it really is pretty bad somedays.

bear in mind the neighbour is a retired dodgy builder -its 100% certain the wood stove was installed by himself and no HETAS engineer ever been near the place.
and he is a liar and general bull hitter.

any advice at all would be most welcome, esp anybody that is in the trade.

TIA!
stay safe everybody :)
 

Noel

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Obviously very poor draw in the chimney.
Talk to your local council's Environmental Health dept. They are usual very helpful, especially in matters where the welfare of a person is involved.
 

AJB Temple

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Various avenues, probably starting with environmental health.

I would first write neighbour a formal letter before action stating that not only is it a nuisance but also a hazard.

Also obtain video evidence. Several times. Case building.
 

Rorschach

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Definitely report it to Environmental health but you need to be a bit clever. Firstly you need to make sure that you do not talk to the neighbour about it at all, secondly you need to wait a bit until the weather is colder. This will ensure that he is using the fire regularly (it needs to be going when they inspect) and also the colder air will make the problem appear worse.,
 

Sheffield Tony

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Definitely report it to Environmental health but you need to be a bit clever. Firstly you need to make sure that you do not talk to the neighbour about it at all, secondly you need to wait a bit until the weather is colder. This will ensure that he is using the fire regularly (it needs to be going when they inspect) and also the colder air will make the problem appear worse.,

Depends if you want to resolve the problem, or create a dispute. It may be an amicable solution isn't possible, but it is usually the best option if available. You could check the flue terminal location complies (or not) with part J of the building regs. The more likely problem is what he is burning. Well seasoned wood produces less smoke and burns hot enough to create a better draw on the fire. But most firewood sellers IME do not sell wood in a dry enough condition to burn. Most will lie that it is though. That's assuming he's not burning builder's rubbish.
 

Rorschach

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Depends if you want to resolve the problem, or create a dispute. It may be an amicable solution isn't possible, but it is usually the best option if available. You could check the flue terminal location complies (or not) with part J of the building regs. The more likely problem is what he is burning. Well seasoned wood produces less smoke and burns hot enough to create a better draw on the fire. But most firewood sellers IME do not sell wood in a dry enough condition to burn. Most will lie that it is though. That's assuming he's not burning builder's rubbish.

The OP has already stated he is a dodgy builder, his installation is likely illegal and breaches his house insurance, there won't be an amicable end to this no matter how you go about it. If he is forewarned though it will be much easier for him to wriggle out of it.
 

RobinBHM

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many thanks for all the advice.

the logs he uses are mostly those that he's cut down himself or scavenged, so I doubt they are dry enough.

mostly he has a fire in the evening after dark so its hard to see smoke.
 

RobinBHM

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The OP has already stated he is a dodgy builder, his installation is likely illegal and breaches his house insurance, there won't be an amicable end to this no matter how you go about it. If he is forewarned though it will be much easier for him to wriggle out of it.
yeah thats the problem -we know from experience its pointless discussing it with him as he just bulls hits.

and reporting it will make him nasty -my MIL lives there on her own as husband is in a care home with dementia.

its an awkward situation with no amicable solution as youve identified.
 

topchippyles

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If he is not the sort of person you can talk to then only 1 option is the Environmental health or planning route.I have had issues with my neighbour for years and been subject to being reported and every time i have complied and passed all the required regs and planning. Nightmare when this happens and i sympathise.
 

Rorschach

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yeah thats the problem -we know from experience its pointless discussing it with him as he just bulls hits.

and reporting it will make him nasty -my MIL lives there on her own as husband is in a care home with dementia.

its an awkward situation with no amicable solution as youve identified.

Neighbourhood problems rarely end amicably unfortunately. Wish you and your MIL the best with it.
 

Richard_C

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If you have a dispute with a neighbour, under the new house selling regulations you have to disclose it in standard solicitors enquiries. If you report it to EH then it's not a dispute.

First step call them and ask for advice. Because EH deal with noise complaints they often have a duty officer who can make evening calls so don't let the time of the smokiness put you off. They may say you should approach the neighbour first, but if you tell them you are reluctant to do that because he has a local reputation for aggressiveness they will act. Its a local authority function so the approach varies around the country but they are normally very good and helpful.
 

CaptainBarnacles

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Some good advice here. I would just add, keep a diary/log of when it happens and how bad it is on that day. EH like to see evidence of a pattern. It’s much more powerful than just telling them “it happens all the time” or “a couple of times a week “ etc. If you have times and dates etc EH can see that you are not some hysterical oaf and will likely get the ball rolling more quickly.
 

Oddbod70

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I dont know the circumstance so I cant comment on an individual case. But it is worth pointing out thar there are sometimes two sides to a neighbourhood dispute story.

A neighbour complained to the council about me due to the constant noise from my leaf blower and constant nuisance from the constant bonfires all autumn and why couldn’t I use the provided council garden waste bags like she did.

i pointed out that we all lived in a rural area, the ‘garden’ was 5 acres, the bonfire was 6 or 7 times a year on still days only and was over 200m away! I chipped, composted and shredded what i could, but there was a practical limit. Of course the neighbour did not see it that way. Such is life.

of course no further action was taken

As i said, i don't know Robins case and am not commenting on it. Just gently making a general point that any dispute has three versions, one for each party and the truth.
 

Woody2Shoes

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I dont know the circumstance so I cant comment on an individual case. But it is worth pointing out thar there are sometimes two sides to a neighbourhood dispute story.

A neighbour complained to the council about me due to the constant noise from my leaf blower and constant nuisance from the constant bonfires all autumn and why couldn’t I use the provided council garden waste bags like she did.

i pointed out that we all lived in a rural area, the ‘garden’ was 5 acres, the bonfire was 6 or 7 times a year on still days only and was over 200m away! I chipped, composted and shredded what i could, but there was a practical limit. Of course the neighbour did not see it that way. Such is life.

of course no further action was taken

As i said, i don't know Robins case and am not commenting on it. Just gently making a general point that any dispute has three versions, one for each party and the truth.
Interesting. The population density of England is above 1000 per square mile even in 'rural' areas. A bonfire - especially on a still day/evening - can create pollution over hundreds of acres. If a person has a large garden - and even if they don't - I'd strongly question the need for bonfires vs. shredding and composting/mulching.
 

Oddbod70

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Which you are free to do. However at the moment tho the arbiters of such things take the view that bonfires in the country are acceptable within reason. Personally I hope it remains so.
 

AJB Temple

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I am with Oddbod70 on Bonfires. We have a large garden too, also in a rural area. We have probably 5 cubic metres of Leylandii clippings to dispose of each year. It is unsuitable for compost and shredding it is very difficult as it gums up even commercial shredders. It is way beyond the capacity of the two council composting bins we have (used exclusively for weeds). Bonfires are normal for large country gardens. Usually it is only townspeople who move out to the countryside who complain about bonfires, the smell of muck spreading and the awful tractor nuisance at harvest time.
 

Woody2Shoes

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I am with Oddbod70 on Bonfires. We have a large garden too, also in a rural area. We have probably 5 cubic metres of Leylandii clippings to dispose of each year. It is unsuitable for compost and shredding it is very difficult as it gums up even commercial shredders. It is way beyond the capacity of the two council composting bins we have (used exclusively for weeds). Bonfires are for large country gardens. Usually it is only townspeople who move out to the countryside who complain about bonfires, the smell of muck spreading and the awful tractor nuisance at harvest time.
I reckon we've got over 2km of hedge (and not a 'suburban' conifer in sight) we manage quite happily without burning anything! On this little overcrowded island nowhere is sufficiently empty/vast that a bonfire doesn't worsen someone's air quality. Stubble burning was stopped partly because it was easy to do and mostly because it made sense.
 

Rorschach

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Nothing wrong with a bonfire if you are sensible about things. Best to give the neighbours some advanced warning, we always do before burning anything, wish others would reciprocate though.
 

Alpha-Dave

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Hi all,

My Mother In law lives in a detached bungalow.

her neighbour has a wood fire.
when he uses it, the smoke comes out of his chimney and comes down the roof to the passage way between his house and my MILs

and my MIL has hers air intake for her gas central heating and also her bedroom window.

the smoke comes in and it really is pretty bad somedays.

bear in mind the neighbour is a retired dodgy builder -its 100% certain the wood stove was installed by himself and no HETAS engineer ever been near the place.
and he is a liar and general bull hitter.

any advice at all would be most welcome, esp anybody that is in the trade.

TIA!
stay safe everybody :)

Back on topic!

In this sort of thing data really helps. You can now get laser-based PM2.5 monitors for less than £50. I have this one from Uni-T, available from a variety of places such as Banggood: [£50.66 8% OFF] UNI-T A25M PM2.5 Testers Air Quality Tester 0~500ug/m3 Auto Range Overload Indication Temperature Tester Measurement & Analysis Instruments from Tools on banggood.com

Or ebay: UNI-T A25M PM2.5 Multimeter Air Quality Measurement Cubic meter | eBay

But there are many others that do the same thing with more or less add-ons, interface options etc.

The sensor itself is much cheaper at ~£20, that needs something like an arduino or raspberry Pi to log the data, but then you can have it running 24h/day, and have constant data logging.


The amount of particulate per m3 has direct health implications. If you can clearly show that the effect is that the fire outside is producing the equivalent of someone smoking in the room (over 500 micro-g/m3) then that is a clear call to action.
 
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