Love your Stove, Stoves & Installations, Information
Open Fire or Stove?
Open fires offer a unique focal point to a room, offering a more ‘intimate’ connection with the fire itself – the smell, sight and heat is not shielded by glass or steel, as with a stove. Cheaper to install with minimal servicing, usually as part of the annual chimney sweep. Cleaning a stove is a little more involved than with an open fire, and can require specific solutions (e.g., stove glass cleaner).
Its not all good news! Open fires are less energy efficient; difficult/impossible to control; greater risk of fire with stray sparks (you need a fireguard), do you really want to leave the house with it on; and dirtier as can release small amounts of debris into the room. You will also want to present it with a mantle whereas a stove looks good in any setting. This can easily add £500 to the cost, £1000+ if an original, but what a feature!
Having both, got to admit its an open fire for me every time although Mrs C disagrees and wants to put a stove inside our beautiful painted slate mantel, never! However, with my frugal head on, an open fire is typically 20% efficient and a stove 80%. So for every £100 spent on fuel, £60 of my hard earned money goes 'up in smoke' on the open fire. Nah, I'm not persuaded, the fires staying, check that photo with approx 7kg of ABoC smokeless banked up and admit you feel warmer just looking at it.
What's a Multi-Fuel Stove...
Made from traditional cast iron or modern steel, multi-fuel stoves have an adjustable grate that allows you to burn wood or smokeless fuels. Bituminous Coal (known as Housecoal) and Petroleum (Pet) Coke should be avoided as it is more volatile and produces more soot which can damage the flue or appliance. As well as providing an efficient heat source, some models can also be fitted into your central heating system to heat your water and radiators.
As well as choosing a style to suit your home, you need to buy a stove with the right heat output. Most suppliers will work this out for you, but for a rough estimate, measure the room in cubic metres and divide this figure by 14 to give you the number of kilowatts needed. Choose a model that uses clean-burn technology for better efficiency and one with an airwash system that keeps flames and gasses off the window, resulting in fewer soot deposits.
What's a Wood / Log Burner...
A wood-burning stove is one of the greenest ways to heat your home as timber is not only a replenishable fuel, but also carbon-neutral, unlike fossil fuels. They are usually flat on the bottom to enable the wood to burn on a bed of ash, and because timber burns slower in a woodburner than a multi-fuel stove it should not require filling as often.
There is a wide range of modern and traditional designs on offer and you need to choose the correct heat output. If you live in a smoke-controlled area, you must use a clean-burn "DEFRA Approved" model that is exempt from the regulations. Always check the log size capacity of your stove and consider an airwash system for glass doors.
Why install a Flue Liner?
Your chimney is not just a 'hole in your house' to get rid of smoke but an integral pressure system to ensure the correct function of your stove or open fire. It may seem like a saving to use your existing chimney and avoid the cost in installing a flue liner but there are some fundamental reasons why you should do so:
- Safety. If the chimney is not sound then smoke and Carbon Monoxide can travel into your (or next door’s) property. That can and does kill.
- The integrity of your chimney. A pressure test (to spot leakage) will need to be done if a liner is not installed. That is a one off test and there is no guarantee that it will pass each year. The mortar in your chimney is prone to attack from acids are tars as a result of combustion, soot (unburnt fuel); creosote (in logs); and wear and tear of the weather, condensation and sweeping.
- Draw. Chimneys in older properties are typically 9" diameter or more designed for open fires (typically 20% efficient) ie. to get rid of 80% of the heat. A liner at 5" or 6" is designed in part to control the draw of your stove so maintaining its efficiency (typically 80%) ie. keep the heat in.
- 'Speed'. The metal of a flue liner conducts heat quicker so will get your stove drawing quicker. The faster the flue gases the less creosote build-up will be created in the flue.
- You will need to install a door in your closure plate if a liner is not used.
- Peace of mind. Most liners are guaranteed for 10 years if 316 grade (wood burning) or 20 years if 904 grade (multi fuel), far longer if the correct fuels are used and its swept on a regular basis (at least annually). Your chimney is not guaranteed and may fail at any time (fail may mean death).
- Warranty. Your flue and stove warranty may be voided if you do not retain all fuel receipts (by an Approved Coal or Woodfuel merchant) and sweep certificates.
- Still in doubt? Check this great article on the Stove Fitters Manual...
Take comfort that at least you have a chimney. Installing an external twin wall system can cost £150 per metre 'fitted', perhaps £1000 on a 2 storey property.
If your flue extends outside of your property (often inside as well if cold), an insulated 'twin wall' flue system is required. Twin wall flue pipe is a “clip-together” chimney system that can be used to safely take the combustion gases from a stove and to the atmosphere. Twin wall flue is a metal tube (flue) insulated with approx. an inch of insulation (two layers of stainless steel with insulation in between). The insulation is necessary to keep the gases hot. Were you to use non-insulated flue pipe for the whole of your chimney then the gases would likely cool too much and start to slow rather than rise – this causing the smoke underneath to “dam” and come out of the vents in your stove instead of the top of your chimney. Cooling gases also form condensation which forms on the inner walls of the flue and runs down into the stove.
What's DEFRA Approved...
DEFRA Approved appliances are designed to have a second burn of the fuel to reduce emissions. This also makes the appliance more efficient and often has an 'air wash' process meaning the drawn in air is directed down the glass so keeping it clean. If you live is a smoke controlled area you can burn smokeless fuel on any appliance but can only burn wood if its DEFRA approved. Read more on the DEFRA site...
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