Beware of generic flues: cheap internet deals may be too good to be true

We all like a bargain, but what looks like a great deal online might be putting your customers at risk and it’s easy to lose sight of the intrinsic value of quality and lifespan when comparisons and choices are made purely on the basis pounds and pence.

Martyn Bridges, director of technical communication and product management at Worcester, Bosch Group, is concerned that some installers could be compromising their customers’ safety by fitting flue plume redirection kits, for example, that haven’t been tested, approved or certified for use with their boiler. It appears that as more and more of these components are being bought online it’s vital that proper care is taken to assure they are fit for purpose.

Conformit EuropenneMr Bridges expresses his concerns:

“We’re seeing a growing number of suppliers selling generic heating accessories such as flue kits that they claim are compatible with a given manufacturer’s boiler, but have never actually been tested to the required standards.

While these products may match the physical size and dimensions of the manufacturer’s flue, it is important for installers to realise that the absence of a CE mark means there is no proof that they meet the UK’s safety, health and environmental requirements.

Worse still, with no testing having taken place, there is no evidence or guarantee that the flue kit won’t be susceptible to damage such as freezing, cracking, or degrading in the sun.”

He calls for installers to be extra vigilant in selecting the most suitable appliances and accessories for their customer’s property. Generic alternatives may be cheaper but making a choice based on this factors alone is potentially risky for something as critical as a flue system. Putting the obvious safety issues aside, there’s more at stake, as fitting something that’s not approved by the manufacturer of the boiler (or stove) will usually invalidate its warranty.

There are other factors to consider too. Flue pricing tends to employ the ‘cost per metre’ calculation, but this can be misleading and it’s more sustainable and better business practice to base the sums on the cost of the product over its lifetime – taking into account build quality and maintenance costs, for example, as well as warranties. At Schiedel we are so confident of the quality and longevity of our Tecnoflex Plus liner system that we’re able to offer a no-quibble lifetime guarantee against defects, which adds intrinsic value to the product and makes it more attractive to the customer.

With your customer in mind once more, ease of installation is another important element in making a cost-based decision, as speedy fitting means less hassle and saves everyone time and money. Customer service and support count for a lot too. It’s good to feel that you’re dealing with a company that has years of experience behind it – one that excels in its support and back-up, for genuine peace of mind.

It’s clear, therefore, when making purchasing decisions for flues, whether for boilers or wood burners, a reputable manufacturer should be your first port of call; for both economic and safety reasons. Cheaper internet deals are tempting but may cost you dear in the long run.

Read more about our industry-leading steel system chimneys and flues, here.