Fire place issue

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10 Mar 2017 10:45 AM by Kezbez Star rating. 1 posts Send private message

We own an apartment in Spain and we recently discovered that when the property was built the owner of the apartment above convinced the builder to   'Go off plan' and not build a fire place, this means when our neighbours below light a fire the smoke comes into our apartment as it has no where else to go. I have contacted several builders but they are unwilling to block our fire place unless we have written authorisation from the owner of the property below which I have been unable to obtain. I'm worried that I am legally obliged to sort the situation out before trying to sell. Can anyone give advise on how to proceed. 

Thanks in advance! 

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10 Mar 2017 11:09 AM by windtalker Star rating. 1934 posts Send private message

The problem you a explained is not your problem to sort out it is the owners of the offending apartment problem .The first thing you must do is inform them of the problem and ask them to stop using the fire until this is resolved ...if they gave no intension of trying to resolve the problem then give them and   your apparrtment. Block manager notification that you intend to block the chimney up as the carbon dioxide is effectively damaging your health and will eventually kill you.

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10 Mar 2017 11:17 AM by Jarvi Star rating in Halifax UK and Sucin.... 757 posts Send private message

I don't know who you would see to sort this out. I don't know If they have the equivalent of Enviromental health in Spain. The smoke you describe has within it Carbon MONOXIDE - this is a killer - you need to get this sorted somehow as quicky as you can. Sorry to worry you but imho this is deadly serious.

Below is an excerpt from the HSE

You can't see it, taste it or smell it but CO can kill quickly without warning. According to the HSE statistics[1] every year around 7 people die from CO poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Levels that do not kill can cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to CO. Increasing public understanding of the risks of CO poisoning and taking sensible precautions could dramatically reduce this risk.

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any combustion appliance, including those that burn fossil fuels e.g. oil, wood and coal.  If you have one of these appliances you should make sure that it is serviced and maintained by a competent person and the chimney is regularly swept.

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10 Mar 2017 1:46 PM by briando55 Star rating in Yorkshire. 1982 posts Send private message

I am shocked by this thread.   CO2 is heavier than air and will fall into your apartment and potentially  kill you with a sufficient build up.   

Chimney flues have been built safely through flats and apartments in the uk through building regulations (1967 required all flues to be lined). 

If the problem is as described (and quite right it needs an immediate reporting), the builder should be prosecuted and the appliance below condemned until the situation is rectified and tested to current standards of that appliance and flue  

what kind of building system does that builder and the local authority belong to?????



Best wishes, Brian


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11 Mar 2017 9:33 AM by watchmanager Star rating. 25 posts Send private message

Brandon55 - you've partly right but that's the least of their problems.

CO2 is Carbon Dioxide and can be a killer and is indeed heavier than air.                                                                           The killer is its big brother Carbon MONOXIDE!  This gas 'isn't' heavier than air. In fact it's mixed quite evenly throughout the full room. You MUST immediately buy an audible Carbon Monoxide detector. The recommended place is to put it in any room that has a solid fuel 'burner'  at a hight of about 4 feet or just over a meter. Although it's evenly mixed within the room this is the optimum position  recommended.

 A solid fuel burner is anything that burns solid fuel. This includes gas appliances and oil burners as gas and oil are products of solid fuel.  A gas ring - gas oven - gas boiler - openfire/log burner/ behind glass fire - barbeque (Remember about 3 years ago some campers had a barbecue then it started to rain so they brought it into their tent to add a little extra heat whilst they slept. Yes, they all died!)

As stated in some other answers this gas is totally invisible - totally unsmellable - No indication at all that it's there.

In the right combination you will just fall asleep and never wake up. You will have no warning whatsoever. You won't feel drowsy (You won't realise you are feeling drowsy) You and anyone else in there will just fall to death. However, when they find you you'll look the healthiest you've ever done as you will have a cherry red glow about you. This is because your white blood cells have been attacked!

I know it sounds harsh but that is the reality of the situation.

This is how I see it -  your open fireplace is acting as the chimney  from down stairs and it's just about who is going to pay to blank the fireplace opening up then just bite the bullet and get the local bricky in for what it costs. Inform the occupants below that this is what you're doing and tell them that it's their problem to get 'their' chimney sorted out and obviously warn them of the dangers recommending to them not to use their fire. In the mean time, blank it off with a board and seal it all around with silicone. Still buy an alarm and have the windows open. If possible don't use the room until it's done! However, if it's just residue of smoke percolating into your room from the majority going up the chimney then closing it up should improve the updraught from dowstairs.

Don't wait until tomorrow as tomorrow may never come!



This message was last edited by watchmanager on 11/03/2017.

This message was last edited by watchmanager on 11/03/2017.

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11 Mar 2017 9:45 AM by briando55 Star rating in Yorkshire. 1982 posts Send private message

Hi watchmanger, yes both correct.

CO2 is the mixture of the 2 carbons released on combustion.  (Monoxide plus dioxide carbon to make the two carbons, that's without checking my physics this morning though!).  When the two are together ar believe they are heavier than air, which is why being laid down gets you more quickly.  

Anyway, your right the emphasis should be on prevention rather than me concentrating on the poor quality of building.  

Gas boilers and internal fires should have sealed balanced flues which burn oxygen from outside and adequate ventilation should be available for gas rings and the such though either mechanical ventilation to pull air through or just open windows.  But where open flues are present the ventilation should be through adequate draught and escape of fumes, tested regularly and constructed properly.  

But yes, get something done today, don't wait for someone else to put this right and save money.   Simple plywood and well sealed silicone may be a good temporary barrier. 


Well said. 


Best wishes, Brian


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11 Mar 2017 9:57 AM by Jarvi Star rating in Halifax UK and Sucin.... 757 posts Send private message


If they do what you suggest and set up a temporary barrier it is likely they will kill the neighbours below them with the carbon monoxide. They will then be imprisoned for manslaughter. They need to get the authorities involved as the problem lies with the original builder and both the upstairs and downstairs neighbour. (that is why no other builder will get involved)

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11 Mar 2017 10:21 AM by watchmanager Star rating. 25 posts Send private message

Jarvis, I understand your reply but this is a catch twenty two situation. Do you want to kill them downstairs or do you want them to kill you?

Something isn't being put across here. I don't believe that the builder would build a chimney that comes out solely into an upstairs apartment making it impossible to even go into let alone breath. It just would not be done.

I think that the chimney is standard - opening out on the top of the roof and instead of a fire place upstairs it is just an opening with maybe flowers in to decorate. This allowing some residue of smoke to enter into the upstairs opening depending on the wind. I know it's Spain and they may not be able to get one but if they can, a simple 'H' pot would sort this out as it would double the ventury updraft and draw the smoke (faster) past the upstairs opening even drawing some air out on it's way.

If the upstairs occupiers don't understand what an H pot is then just Google just that. I'd be interested in a bit more clarification from the original poster.

If it is just the residual smoke occasionally puffing into the room then this was a common problem on the old two up two down houses that used to have Fire places in an upstairs bedroom.

As stated on my other reply, if this is the case, then blocking the upstairs fireplace front will have no adverse effect on downstairs - in fact it would improve their updraft.






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11 Mar 2017 10:41 AM by johnzx Star rating in Spain. 5241 posts Send private message

I agreed with watchmanager.

I have  friend who several years ago did just as he suggests, she has never had any complaints and no more smoke.

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11 Mar 2017 10:46 AM by briando55 Star rating in Yorkshire. 1982 posts Send private message

Yes if the flue is built correctly each property should have its own flue in the stack system, and like you say the only way the contamination can perhaps exist is either through poorly sealed, cracked or unrebated linings cross contamination or through a down draught from the top.  

It needs sealing off and some air tightness procedure carrying out, then it needs a suitable terminal for the surrounding wind conditions, H pots are very useful to get draught passing over and dragging air from below.

I personally wouldn't just rely on that as a solution though.  My first reaction is to check if the flue is built correctly and safely before trying out my own solutions.  


Best wishes, Brian


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11 Mar 2017 10:50 AM by Jarvi Star rating in Halifax UK and Sucin.... 757 posts Send private message

I don't think the original poster is responding because they have died of Carbon Monoxide poisioning.....

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11 Mar 2017 10:56 AM by briando55 Star rating in Yorkshire. 1982 posts Send private message

Perhaps their sales agent and builder became so concerned they went round and solved the issue for them directly?

i wonder which was most likely.  


Best wishes, Brian


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