Frequently asked questions regarding stoves and installation.

If you would like to get an idea of pricing and what’s available for your living space, I am able to provide a quotation from pictures and measurements. All that is required is the width and depth of your chimney breast, a picture of what is currently in place and a picture from outside of the property looking back at your chimney stack. This will show me the access to the chimney and how many meters of flue liner would be needed. (Please see example pictures) For a quotation, please provide your full name, home address and email address. Messages can be sent to Matt using Watsapp or text message on 07984514117. Alternatively, you can email an enquiry through my contact tab.

If you would prefer to speak to me directly you can call me on 07984514117. In working hours, it may be difficult to answer the phone but if you leave a message I will get back to you as soon as possible.

There are generally three scenarios when it comes to installation of a wood burner, the most common being the client has an existing gas fire or the chimney breast has been bricked up in the past so is now just a flat wall. These I consider a full job where a knockout is required to expose the original opening.

This is usually one or two days work depending on the size of the opening and building work required. We then line the existing brick flue with a new stainless steel flue liner, install a concrete lintel, lay a hearth for the stove to stand on, board the chambers walls, install an oak beam or mantle piece, plaster the chimney breast, install a closure plate and connect the stove to the liner. A job like this will start from  £1400 + VAT  depending on the size of the chamber to be opened up, length of the flue system and size of hearth.

The second scenario being the chamber is already opened up. This may be because the client has had an open fire basket, or has recently moved into a house that already has a stove installed but would like the flue lining for peace of mind and better efficiency. This is generally finished in a single day as only the lining system needs to be dropped and connected to the stove. This would cost around £900 + VAT for a standard 1930’s semi detached house with a typical 9 metre flue.

The third scenario being the client’s house was built after the 1960’s so was not built with a brick flue to accommodate an open fire. Installing a stove is still possible using a twinwall flue system than can pass through walls or ceilings allowing the flue to run through the rooms above or up the side of the property and terminate at the roof.

This system is built up in metre lengths and can vary in price depending on the height or design of the flue, for a standard two storey property with the flue running up the outside would cost from £1700 + VAT.

There are generally 3 price ranges for stoves. All prices are for DEFRA approved stoves so they can burn wood in a smoke free zone and meet all current smoke emissions testing.

£450 – £600 – For this price bracket the stove will more than likely be a Chinese import, build quality is compromised in comparison to British and Scandinavian stoves and the cost is kept down by using thinner steel for the body. Controllability tends to be poor.

£650 – £1000 – This is by far the most popular price range of stove. This will get you a well established British brand stove with good build quality and efficiency. These stoves are cut from much thicker steel, they will stand the test of time and are designed with great controllability over the fire.

£1000 – £1500 – Stoves over £1000 tend to be British brands such as Charnwood and Clearviews top models . Also contemporary Scandinavian brands and free standing stoves will fall in this bracket. Build quality, efficiency and controllability will be exceptional.

5 kilowatts is the most popular size of stove on the market but why do they vary in price so much if they give out the same amount of heat?

The difference from a cheap stove to a £1000 stove (apart from build quality) is all to do with the controllability. The way the air vents can increase or decrease the amount of oxygen into the stove is vital for slowing down the rate of burning once the fires established.

The way I describe this is to imagine that the cheap stove is a car with only 2 gears. Now imagine that you are on the motorway in the fast lane and want to up the gears but cant so are stuck at full revs. Now imagine a stove with controllability that is cruising along and has 5 gears. Who do you think is using the most fuel?

Stoves with good controllability allow you to control the rate of burning like a volume control. The more air coming in to the stove will burn fuel faster and increase heat output; less air will slow down the rate of burning and decrease heat output. Unfortunately most cheap stoves don’t really do much when you turn the air vents down so the fire stays burning at a quicker rate.  This in turn burns fuel faster than needed so in the long run is false economy as you are using  more fuel. I have found that most stoves that fall into the mid price range bracket have good controllability and build quality. If your budget does not stretch to that there are still a few models that I can recommend.

Most wood burning stoves I install are 4 – 5 kilowatts. 5 kilowatts being the standard size output to heat most rooms effectively. Larger, older properties or properties with an open plan design may consider a higher output. I would only recommend up to 8 kilowatts as any more would be an unbearable heat. Also, any open fire or any stove with an output higher than 5 kilowatts will require an air vent to be installed in the room that the appliance is in. Any stove 5 kilowatts or below does not require this as there is sufficient oxygen in the room for the stove to operate efficiently.

Here is a link to a stove calculator by Charnwood, By putting in the width, length and height of the room, A recommended kilowatt output can then be given. (This is only a rough guide, the age of the property, amount of windows, external walls and insulation of the property must also be considered.)

Some Clients have concerns that they can only burn smokeless coals and not wood due to the area that they live in. This only applies to people with stoves that are not DEFRA approved. These tend to be very old models of stoves or cheap Chinese imports that have poor efficiency and control.

If you live in a smoke controlled area, you will require a DEFRA approved stove. ( which most models are  ) DEFRA is the UK Government Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which regulates smoke emissions under the Clean Air Act 1993. They run an approvals scheme for wood and multi-fuel burning stoves (and fuels) that are considered suitable for use inside a “smokeless zone”. If you live in any major UK town or City, you live in such a zone.

So as long as your wood burning stove is DEFRA approved, It is fine to burn wood in a smoke controlled area.

Wood burning stoves and multifuel stoves are exactly the same in design and size. The only difference being that a multifuel stove has a raised grid like grate that can be riddled and shaken to remove ash which will be collected by the removable ash pan below the grate. Some Stove brands actually sell a multifuel kit which can be retro added to a wood burning stove to convert it to a multifuel.

The reason for a grate is coal burns best when elevated, allowing air to circulate from below. Wood, on the other hand, burns best when sitting on a bed of ash (also called a firebox, which is where the fuel burns), so the raised grate is not needed as the air is circulating from the top.

Some clients like the idea of occasionally burning smokeless coal on their stoves. Coal burns longer than wood and allows overnight burning known as slumbering, Slumbering is ideal if your stove is your main source of heat and plan on having the stove continuously burning.  However most of us have central heating and use our stoves on the evening after work and over winter weekends. This type of use is much more suited to wood burning only.

Coal produces more Co2 than wood, it also requires more cleaning and emptying of the ash pan due to the amount of ash left from the previous fire, this is from coals high volatile matter. Wood however will burn to almost nothing leaving very little ash, but does burn faster than coal.

In Fact the only ash left behind from wood is from the bark of the tree. Its also recommended to leave a bed of approximately an inch of ash on the base of your wood burner after cleaning. this is to insulate your fire and speed up the lighting process on your next burn.

Wood is a carbon-neutral fuel, as the carbon it gives off is counteracted by the carbon it takes in while growing. Coal, on the other hand, is far less eco-friendly. Personally I always recommend burning wood over multifuel But your choice about which fuel to burn may depend on what supply you have locally and the amount of time your stove will be in use?

Although not a regulation, I always advise clients that are planning on having a stove fitted to also line the chimney’s existing 9″ brick flue with a stainless steel lining system. (these are either 5″ or 6″ to match the stoves pipe) This is because a stove lose’s much less heat up the flue than an open fire so creates a colder and slower draw giving hot gases meeting colder air time to condense and stick to the flues walls.

With the liner being a smaller diameter than the original brick flue, gases are expelled quicker as the steel liner conducts heat much better. This creates a faster draw and tackles the problem of gases having time to condense creating tar and creosote build up on the flue walls. Creosote can eventually leak through causing damp tar stains.  It is also very flammable and the main cause of chimney fires.

A liner also creates a much more efficient stove on fuel. The liner is dropped from the roof and connected directly to the stoves flue pipe. This creates a safe installation preventing smoke spillage escaping through damaged mid feather bricks into bedrooms above or neighbours if the stack is shared. This is a very common problem on houses built before the 1960s.

Another benefit of having the stove lined is it makes the sweeping process much cleaner, easier and quicker.  This keeps your hearth and the walls of your chamber free from any soot as there is no need for sweeping hatches in the closure plate. The liner is swept through the stove as it is now all one connected system.

There are two grades of steel for your lining system.  The quality of stainless steel used for the inner and outer layers of the liner affect its lifespan and recommended usage. 316 which has a ten year guarantee is only suitable for use with wood and very occasional smokeless fuels. 904 has a 20 year guarantee and is suitable for a mixture of wood and smokeless fuels and is recommended for people planning on heavy use of their stove, especially with coal.

Registered installers are trained and approved to UKAS standards and can self certify that their work complies with the relevant Building Regulations. If you were to use a company that is not HETAS registered, you must apply to your Local Authority Building Control Department for a Building Notice.

You must then pay the appropriate fee (possibly up to £300.00).  Should there be a problem and the worst happens and HETAS do not have a record of a HETAS Certificate at the property, then I’m afraid it can void your insurance.  After your installation a copy of your Certificate is forwarded to HETAS who will notify your Local Authority on your behalf. Please note that just because a company is HETAS registered it does not always guarantee quality, safely installed work, be sure to see examples of installations and experience as the recent boom in wood burning stoves has also brought lots of new installers to the industry.

Sometimes clients are working to a tight budget. Those that are in the process of renovating a property might have a builder on site and wonder if there is any work they could have them do to keep costs down.

The answer to this is yes and no. Things like chimney stacks being repointed or new chimney pots bedded should they be needed are fine, however in my experience the majority of clients that have had their builder or a family member prep for a wood burning stove before I have been to view it, usually ends in me having to remove what they have started. Examples of this would be,

  • Lintels fitted at the incorrect height
  • Lintels fitted with the incorrect depth
  • Openings lined using non suitable materials
  • Hearths laid with incorrect minimum clearances
  • Hearths laid with no expansion joints (which will end in cracking)
  • Lining systems installed upside down
  • Liners fitted with the incorrect diameter
  • Cowls fitted that are not designed for solid fuel

This is usually fixable by removing the incorrect fireboards, laying a new hearth or taking the concrete lintel higher; but when a new floor has been fitted around the hearth or the room has been newly plastered and decorated, this becomes a problem (a dusty problem).  Even if the work done prior to us arriving is correct, we much prefer to start with a blank canvas and adapt the installation should we come across any hurdles in the process.

We offer a supply and installation service and can supply any make or model of stove on the market. My suppliers have showrooms with the stoves on display should you wish to see them in the flesh beforehand. We also offer great deals on stoves at less than the RRP. Alternatively, if you wish to supply your own stove I am happy to install only as long as the stove is DEFRA approved and meets all current smoke emissions testing. I am happy to advise on this before your purchase.