Logburners are consented for 15 years. After 15 years, regardless of whether the burner is still fine, you have to replace it.
The logburner in our house is fine, but has fallen outside of the consent window. Because we lost another heat source in the earthquake, our EQC coverage will replace our logburner, when we get our repairs done. Our old brick chimney will be decommissioned and we'll be getting a new approved solid fuel wood burner.
But, it's taken a long time to get EQC and our builder into agreement on the costs of repairs to our house. Basically, we're going to have to go out of pocket several thousand dollars above our deductible to get the repairs done to a standard consistent with that which we thought we'd paid for (full replacement to an as-new standard), but the assessors for the mandatory EQC insurance scheme care more about keeping total costs down than about fulfilling their contractual obligations. Suing them would cost more than just paying a few thousand dollars to get the job done properly and would come with no guarantees of that the job would get done.
In the meantime, we have an out-of-consent logburner. We hope that it'll be replaced soon; we're meeting with our builder next Wednesday to schedule the repairs. We also have three heat pumps. We run the logburner on the one-night-in-three in winter when the temperature drops below zero and the heat pumps can't keep up.
ECan is cracking down on older logburners.
We got the "don't use your logburner or else" letter from ECan. Because we're still waiting on our earthquake repairs, I phoned them, seeking the exception that Bedford here advertises. When I called, the person on the other end of the line said that we likely weren't eligible for an exemption because we also have heat pumps. We'd have been eligible if we only had electric heaters, but heatpumps likely rule us out. She said she'd check with her supervisor and get back to me. She didn't get back to me.Environment Canterbury warns it will enforce bans on older wood burners this winter - the first time since the earthquakes.Commissioner David Bedford said ECan had not enforced bans on older-style wood burners since the earthquakes, but would be targeting 8000 homes this year."Its been three to four years now and we feel now is the time to tighten up the enforcement side of things."Teams would use thermal imaging technology to check chimneys and, if necessary, take action from next month.However Bedford said exceptions would be made for those who needed it."If life is still pretty tough through the earthquakes or even if you were badly affected by flooding, please call and let us know."He said fines of $300 would be used as a last resort.
I'm consequently going to continue with my status quo: burn dry and clean wood on nights that drop below freezing, or on the really chilly damp days. I'd sooner pay the $300 than have our kids be cold.
But is it really credible that, in an election year, ECan will really start issuing fines to those of us still waiting on earthquake repairs? The stories kinda write themselves here and come with all the usual hooks like pictures of cold kids in damaged houses on the east side of town, barred by ECan from using their soon-to-be-replaced logburner. I'm sure the journalists can find more sympathetic-looking cases than ours, should it come to it. Easy headlines for it too: "Government logburner ban brings winter chill for families still awaiting EQC repairs."