To help wood and solid fuel heating installers make the most of what can be the busiest time of year, Specflue has created an eight-point plan to prepare for winter; to ensure customers are kept safe, appliances are efficient and installers can carry out their job effectively and to a high standard.

Get swept

Fire and rescue services had to deal with more than 5,000 chimney fires between April 2014 and March 2015. Don't let your customers join this dangerous statistic. Point them in the direction of a qualified chimney sweep and remind customers should keep copies of all sweep certificates.

Be smoke aware

Smoke can be more lethal than fire itself. A properly sited and installed smoke alarm will detect the early stages of a fire. Ensure all alarms are tested weekly.

Be CO aware

Blocked chimneys, incorrect flue design and incomplete burning can cause CO poisoning. Make sure your customers have a CO alarm fitted correctly - this should happen as standard with new stove installs as part of the current Building Regulations. Alarms should be tested on a weekly basis.

Be fuel aware

Making your customers aware of the type and quality of fuel they need for their appliance will help maintain efficiency and optimum eco-credentials. A wood thermometer will ensure fuel is being burnt at the correct temperature. Wood needs to be split and seasoned for around 18 months, with a moisture content of no more than 20% - this can be tested with a moisture metre.

Be Ecodesign aware

For new stoves, choose a Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) Approved Eco Design 2022 model, to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal emissions - ideal for urban locations.

Take a long-term view

When installing a new heating system, choose products that have long warranty periods, to give your customer peace of mind, as well as covering your back should anything go wrong. We supply Schiedel liners (Tecnoflex Plus and ICID Plus) which come with a lifetime warranty.

Be prepared

Make sure you've got everything you need to do the job. Arriving on site and realising bits are missing will hold things up and make you look unprofessional. We offer flue packs, which ensure you have all the fixings required in one place, including pipe connections, adaptors and chimney cowl. Order products in advance rather than leaving purchasing to the last minute.

Understand the true cost

Seemingly cheap cost per metre deals might seem like the best option when choosing a flue, but, in reality this approach may cost more in the long term. A quality product with a long warranty will be easier to install and require little or no maintenance, reducing costs overall, and the need for customer call-backs.

Don't forget, if you're going to install solid fuel appliances, you must be HETAS registered. Don't be tempted to ‘have a go' at installing a stove or fireplace without the necessary training. For installers in related trades, such as plumbing or other forms of heating, upskilling can be a straightforward process. Visit for details of our HETAS accredited courses.