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The CE Mark: the good, the bad and the ugly

The introduction of the CE Mark was heralded as a watershed for our industry. It was intended to finally create a level playing field for the quality of products so that everyone would be working to the same standard. On paper, it was a great idea.

The CE Mark accreditation is the manufacturer’s declaration that the product meets the requirements of the applicable EC directives, such as the those for metal chimneys – Part 1: Systems chimney products and Part 2: Metal flue liners and connecting flue pipes, which have designations of BS EN 1856-1:2009 and BS EN 1856-2:2009 respectively. It places the onus on companies to verify that their products comply with the legislation.

The reality, however, is that the CE Mark has divided our industry into the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugly we can cope with, but it’s the bad that are blighting our industry’s good name.

The good are obvious: they’re the flue firms that jumped through all the hoops to achieve the accreditation. The ugly are the tin bashers who knock out rogue bits of flue on a “no questions asked, no paperwork required” basis. In any industry, you’ll always get that end of the market.

But the bad are the ones who have the paperwork to show they’re good but this, frankly, isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

These firms and individuals are duping unsuspecting customers who think they have all the assurances and warranties, but who actually don’t have a leg to stand on if something goes wrong.

The closest thing we can liken it to is buying a car without checking the paperwork – and therein lies part of the problem. Does anyone know what they’re supposed to be looking for in the paperwork? The answer is no.

We know because we’ve spent hours poring over the paperwork as part of what was required to achieve the CE Mark, but there is little supporting evidence to help the industry or those who specify and commission flue systems to quickly identify whether they have legitimate CE-Marked products and systems.

We have created a five-point list to help anyone to check whether or not flue systems comply with the mandatory requirements of the CE Mark, which includes:

  • how to spot a genuine manufacturer’s CE mark;
  • the correct way products should be identified;
  • key information on product identification;
  • tell-tale signs when visually inspecting products; and
  • how to check the paperwork.

John Hamnett is a director at A1 Flue Systems

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