What are the rules for heat shielding a stove and its flue pipe?

Heat shielding plasterboard and other combustible material from single skin flue pipe

Vitreous steel flue pipe has one big advantage, especially in cold, usually older houses, in that it allows some additional heat to escape via the uninsulated single skin into the room which would otherwise be 'wasted' as it exits the chimney system with the rest of the combustion gases. Unfortunately this heat leakage can also be one of its biggest disadvantages because, even under normal operation, single skin flue pipe can get exceptionally hot and then its proximity to combustible materials can be positively dangerous. Over-firing and, worse case scenario – chimney fires, can cause the external temperature of flue pipe to rise to well beyond 500ºC.

For example the continuous working temperature (or service temperature) of some plasterboards can be as low as 50ºC. Given the right conditions, the cardboard surface of plasterboard used on a wall or a ceiling will combust and therefore the remaining gypsum will provide very little fire protection. This means that any timber stud work or joists behind plasterboard will also be subject to the heat threat from single skin flue pipe. Under no circumstances therefore, should standard plasterboard ever be used to line or neaten up a fireplace chamber. An appropriate non-combustible alternative, along with its non-combustible adhesive, which are approved for such applications, should be used and the manufacturer's adhered to.

Fortunately there are a number of simple tried and tested solutions for protecting plasterboard and timber (and other combustibles) from the excessive heat emanating from vitreous flue pipe and stoves when used in free-standing installations.

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