Frequently Asked Questions
What size stove do I need? When selecting the perfect stove for your living space, it is important to choose the correct size. Stoves are rated by Kilowatt (kW) output which is the amount of heat the stove produces in 1 hour. Be aware that some manufacturers will state maximum outputs, and others average (nominal) outputs.
The first step is to measure the size of the room that requires heating. Here are the sums you need:
Metres (m) : (Room Width x Length x Height = m3) / 14
Feet (Ft) : (Room Width x Length x Height = ft3) / 500
alternatively, enter your room dimensions into our handy calculator and it will automatically work out the output you need and the stoves which match that criteria.
This is a guide only and you will need to think about other factors and adjust accordingly. Here are a few variables to consider:
- Age of property
- Number of windows and if they are double glazed
- Quality of insulation
- Is the room open plan, does it have a staircase?
- Will doors be left open to heat other rooms?
- Your own temperature preferences
- Any existing heating
- Do you want the stove to run a boiler?
What is a smoke control zone? Am I in a smoke control zone? Under the Clean Air Act, local authorities may declare in whole or in part a district to be under smoke control. It is an offence to emit smoke from an appliance from within such an area. There are some stoves which are approved by DEFRA for use in smoke exempt zones. If you live in one of these areas, we can advise a DEFRA approved model to suit your requirements.
To find out if you are in a smoke control area, check with your local authority or visit the DEFRA website.
Cast Iron or Steel Stove? Cast iron stoves tend to have a more ornate look and feel to them. Although cast iron takes longer to heat up, it will also retain its heat for much longer too. One disadvantage of a cast iron stove is it can be less forgiving. A significant knock, or an extreme rapid rise or drop in temperature may cause it to crack. For example, dropping something heavy on it, or spilling cold water on it when it is red hot.
Steel stoves are quite the opposite, they tend to have a plainer look to them. They will heat up much quicker, but they will also cool down at a faster rate after use. Steel is more forgiving than cast, but can warp if over fired.
Do I need a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm as well as a fire alarm? Yes! A fire alarm is not the same as a Carbon Monoxide alarm. CO is an extremely poisonous gas that is the result of not burning fuel under the correct conditions. Gas, solid mineral fuel, oil and biomass all have the potential to emit CO. Carbon Monoxide cannot be smelt, seen or tasted, so without an alarm it is difficult to detect.
Current legislation states that if you install a gas, oil wood burning or solid fuel appliance a CO alarm must be fitted by law. The alarm should be fitted in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
What are the common symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning?
- Nausea / Vomiting
- Chest / Stomach pain
- Erratic behaviour / Visual problems
What should I do if my Carbon Monoxide alarm sounds?
- Regardless of whether you are experiencing symptoms, remove all occupants outside to fresh air
- If your appliance is automatically fed with fuel, turn the appliance off if it is safe to do so
- Open windows and doors to ventilate the building if it is safe to do so
- Do not return until the appliance has extinguished and the air in the room is back to a normal level
- Check for symptoms of poisoning
- If you feel unwell contact your doctor or NHS direct. In an emergency dial 999
Do I need a hearth? You will require a constructional hearth unless the stove manufacturer has tested the stove to prove that the hearth temperature will not exceed 100oC. If that is the case a 12mm hearth of non-combustible material may be used. For details on constructional hearths consult Document J.
What clearances do I need for my stove? Clearances to both non-combustible and combustible materials will vary from manufacturer. Make sure you check this prior to installation.
Can I have a wood burner without a chimney? Yes, using either an external or internal twin wall system. Call us for more details.
Can I fit a wood burning / solid fuel appliance to my existing chimney? Only if the chimney is in a good state of repair and has been verified by a suitably qualified engineer.
Does my chimney have to be lined? It is best to line a chimney to enable good cleaning and to achieve the best efficiency from your stove. A chimney will need to be re-lined if it is found to be unsound from the results of an appropriate test. And/or if the chimney cross-sectional area of the flue is too large for the intended appliance. And/or any existing lining is found to be unsuitable for the proposed appliance type.
What is the difference between Class 1 and Class 2 flue liner? Class 1 is suitable for all fuels and condensing appliances, Class 2 is for oil and gas only. Class 1 generally has a smooth interior and Class 2 ribbed.
Does a flexible liner have to be insulated? Not necessarily on an internal chimney, but it is good practice to always insulate a flue for optimal performance. This ensures the flue gases stay up-to temperature and do not cool, which would lead to condensation, tar deposits and creosote build-up.
Can I reduce or increase the flue size? You may increase the size of the flue, but you must never reduce it at any part of the system. Avoid increasing the flue size by too much for the reasons outlined in the answer above.
Can I sweep through my stove? This will depend on the individual model you choose. Some will have removable parts to allow cleaning access through the stove. If situations dictate you require this, make sure this factors in your decision making process.
Who or What are HETAS, OFTEC & GAS SAFE? These organisations are the official bodies recognized by government to approve solid fuel, oil and gas domestic heating appliances respectively.
Does my stove have to be installed by a registered HETAS, OFTEC & GAS SAFE engineer? Can I install an appliance myself? We would always recommend that an appliance is installed by a suitably qualified engineer. If you choose to install the appliance yourself you still need to have it signed off by local building control. Failure to do so may jeopardise your home insurance and any future house sale.
How long should stove parts last? Working in the spares department for many years, this is undoubtedly the most common question asked by customers. It’s very difficult to answer because it depends on so many variable factors. I often liken it to asking ‘How long should tyres last on a car’? The four most crucial factors are the quality of the stove / parts, installation, suitability of the fuel and most important of all, how the stove is operated. If this stove is used every day and fired really hard, then it is fair to assume that parts will not last as long as another which is used far less. Likewise if the stove is operated incorrectly, over fired, or has incorrect fuel burnt on it then parts cannot be expected to last. For these reasons manufacturers will very rarely cover these ‘consumable items’ under a warranty. Parts will inevitably wear out over time, simply because of the extremities they work under. That said, if the stove is looked after and managed correctly there is no reason why these parts shouldn’t give you a good service. See our top tips page for ways of getting the most out of your spare parts.
At what point does it become cost effective to replace the stove rather than keep buying spares? A lot will depend on your budget, the age of your current stove, and the cost of the parts you need to get it back up and running. Nowadays stoves are far superior in efficiency and technology than earlier predecessors. In effect, comparatively they use less fuel, so if you pay for your fuel then they are cheaper to run. There will undoubtedly come a time when parts are no longer available for a particular model or the cost of parts become prohibitive for a dated stove. In this instance if your budget allows, it may be worth looking at the wide selection of wood burners currently available. It’s worth pointing out that there are well known internet platforms where you can sell old unwanted stoves.
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