Installing a wood burning stove into your home is a great way adding character to your property – who doesn’t love the idea of watching logs burn on a chilly winter’s night? It’s also a much more even distribution of warmth than central heating, and potentially much more cost effective and building up energy bills.
Who Can Install a Wood Burning Stove?
You can – provided you comply with certain criteria. There is no law that states wood burners must be installed by a particular professional, but these log burners are covered by the restrictions of building regulations in the UK.
This means that you’ll need to be a certified competent person to complete the work yourself, and the installation will need to be approved by a member of your local council’s Building Control Department. Local authorities will also be able to confirm if you like in a Smoke Controlled Area, which may restrict you from burning wood in certain stoves under the Clean Air Act.
If you have any doubt in your mind at all, consult a professional before you start the project – many vendors will offer a complimentary survey, and you may find that the cost of your wood burning stove plus installation is more agreeable than attempting to DIY, especially when you factor in what kind of hearth you require, and whether to line your chimney.
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What is a Hearth?
Log burners obviously emit a great deal of heat, which means that in the name of safety you’ll need to mark out some area in front of it. If your stove runs particularly hot, releasing more than 100°C straight downward, you’ll need to have a stone heart of at least 125mm built. If not, you are still required to have a non-combustible heart of around 12mm – this can be constructed of tiles if necessary, or a half-moon of glass.
What Does Lining a Chimney Mean?
Wood burners give off substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, which is obviously lethal to people and pets. This lining, usually made of ceramic and metal and housed inside the flue, which is the large legal pipe above your stove, keeps all unsavoury gases inside the chimney and directs them out above your property, far away from where you can harm you or your family – and that of your neighbours, who could also suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning from an unlined chimney.
What’s more, chimney lining will prevent cold air seeping into your stove and blowing out your burning logs, and greatly reduces the risk of the fire from your wood burner spreading to other areas of your home.
While there it is not technically a legal requirement to line your chimney, it’s hugely advisable to do so – and to get the advice of a professional as to what chimney-lining flue you should use; if you install one that is too large you risk wasting energy, and if too small the flue will be largely ineffective. You’ll also need to ensure that your lining is appropriate for what you plan to burn – wood, coal or both.
I Don’t Have a Chimney – Can I Still Install a Wood Burner?
Yes, though you’re more likely to need outside help with installing your log burner in this instance. A home without a chimney can still use a stove with the addition of a twin wall flue that runs the full height of your home.
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What Size Wood Burner Do I Need?
This depends on the size of the room you will be installing the stove in. On average, you will be looking for around 1kw of heat for every 14 cubic metres of space in your room.
So, if you have a room that measures 100 cubic metres, divide that by 14 to learn that you should look for a log burner of around 7kw. You could also pick up a wood burner fan to assist in spreading the heat around such a large space – these sit on top of the stove, taking power from the heat generated and distributing warmth all around the open space.
How to Install a Wood Burner
If you are ready to proceed, then call in a professional chimney sweep. You may think that these are fictional characters from Dickensian London, but this remains a vocation today and a vital process of installing a stove in any property – and again, on an annual basis from then on.
Next, you’ll need to check the dimensions of both your fireplace and your wood burner. Every stove will have its own minimum distance required from potentially combustible materials so ensure that you comply by these regulations before choosing the size of your log burner.
You’ll then have to cut a whole into your ceiling to ensure that your flue pipe will not interfere with any wires or pipes – start small, and gradually increase the size of this cavity to match that of your flue pipe. You can, of course, use the flue itself as a template when the time comes.
Your flue pipe (preferably lined, as discussed earlier) is then fitted to the top of your stove. You may find that you have some excess space, so use fireboard (sometimes referred to as chimney board) to ensure that everything is snug otherwise you’ll just be allowing a draught in through the chimney.
You can then install the wood burner, attaching the flue using a pipe collar, and get one with the most important part of the process – having your installation reviewed by a professional and being granted official HETAS certification that your stove is safe and secure, and thus complies with building standards.
You will have noticed that these instructions pertain to a wood burner that runs through a chimney. If you are using a twin wall flue instead, you will have to cut a hole into your roof using an angle grinder and apply a weatherproof seal. The circumstances surrounding such an installation vary from home to home, so we strongly suggest you seek professional advice before undertaking this particular project.
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Why Should I Use a Wood Burner?
As well as being lovely to look at, stoves boast an energy efficiency of up to 80%. Think of the money you will save on your utility bills.
How About an Open Fire? That Sounds Like Less Work?
Maybe so, but the average open fire can only offer an energy efficiency of around 15%.
Can I Install a Wood Burner With No Professional Input?
No. At the very least you’ll need to have tour installation inspected and be handed a HETAS certificate, and it’s very highly advisable to consult with professionals at various points along the process.
How Much Will a Wood Burner Cost?
That depends entirely on what you have done. Wood burner prices vary wildly depending on size and brand (you may find it more cost effective to purchase a display model from a showroom), and you will need to spend more if you need a hearth. Get a quote from a professional for both the log burner itself and the installation, and decide how you would like to proceed.
Do Wood Burners Smell?
If installed correctly, you will not smell anything inside your home.
Are Wood Burners Dangerous?
All stoves will come with a lockable door to protect curious children and pets from the flames, but obviously this will run hot. The biggest danger of a wood burning is an incorrect installation that leaves you at risk of exposure to carbon monoxide, which it is why it is vitally important to ensure your stove complies with building regulations.
Do Wood Burners Require Much Maintenance?
You’ll have to clear away the ash of your burned logs regularly and wipe down the clear window as that will get smokey, but in terms of chimney maintenance you’ll just need to have that swept once per year.
I Live in the City Centre – Can I Still Have a Wood Burner?
You may be restricted by the Clean Air Act. If this is the case you’ll need a DEFRA-exempted stove.
Will I Need a Wood Burner Fan?
Not necessarily. These can be great additions to stoves in large rooms as they distribute the heat a little more evenly, but many people are perfectly happy with the warmth generated by a standard log burner.
Are Wood Burners Environmentally Friendly?
Opinions differ on this subject. Burning wood is considered to be a carbon-neutral activity as trees absorb as much CO2 as stoves release, but some people may consider any kind of gas release to be undesirable.
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