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Chimney sweep Watford
Chimney sweeps - Solid fuel fires - Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

The Benefits of Solid Fuel, Wood Burning and other Multifuel Stoves

Solid fuel, or as they are sometimes referred to, Multifuel stoves are quickly becoming the new trend in a lot of homes. With the prices of gas and electric increasing at an alarming rate it is the new alternative source of heat.

Cast iron versus steel solid fuel stoves

There are literally dozens of makes and models of solid fuel stoves out there today and this is fast becoming a very competitive market. A good quality solid fuel stove consists of a steel or cast iron body and will usually have cast iron doors. A Steel stove will heat up quicker but cool down much faster. Cast iron stoves will take longer to heat up but will retain their heat for a much longer after the fire has died out.

Cast iron solid fuelstoves will usually need more room around them than a steel solid fuel stove would so the air can circulate, if there is limited circulation around a cast iron stove it is at risk of cracking. There is an airwash that helps to keep the door glass clean, which is usually a top slider or spinner. This works by bringing air into the stove and drawing it in front of the door glass to prevent the smoke from leaving black deposits. The primary air supply is usually at the bottom and is also a slider or a spinner. This is usually left open whilst you are lighting the fire as you will need to give it lots of air to get the fire to take properly. Once the fire has become established then you can start to turn the fire down and just leave it ticking over.

How long can you expect a solid fuel stove fire to last?

Most small fires in solid fuel stoves can burn for up to 4 hours when wood is used as a fuel. This of course will depend on whether you use hardwood or softwood and also how well it has been seasoned. It will usually burn longer on smokeless fuel, possibly up to 12 hours, depending on the load size and fuel quality. Some models of solid fuel stove have a tertiary air supply which makes the stove much more efficient as it burns off any excessive gasses in the stove so there will be far fewer emissions to come out of the chimney.

Smoke exempt or smoke controlled areas can both have solid fuel stoves

Quite a lot of areas are now smoke exempt. If a solid fuel stove is the form of heating you require then it is best to contact your local council to check if you are in a smoke controlled area. If the area you live in is in such an area, and you want to burn wood then you will need to buy an approved solid fuel stove. If you are not determined about burning wood then you need to burn an alternative smokeless fuel. There are plenty available now from your local coal supplier who can deliver the fuel even a lot of corner shops now sell smokeless fuel. Over the last few years many modifications have been made to these stoves. Whether they are referred to as multifuels, wood burning or solid fuel stoves, the modifications still make them easier and far more efficient to use. Solid fuel stoves come complete with ash pan and grate. Some have superior external riddling grates and some are very basic or dont riddle at all.

Seasoning the wood to burn in a solid fuel stove

Wood burning solid fuel stoves are actually carbon neutral; it only gives off as much carbon as the wood has taken in while it has been growing as a tree. There are many different types of wood that are available to be burnt. Most types of wood will need at least two winters of outside exposure to the elements and then a further six months under cover where the wind can still get in but the rain cannot, this enables the wood to dry out. Wood that has been seasoned correctly will give off no smoke out of the chimney, making it far better for the environment. Hardwoods tend to take up to three to four years to season. Ash wood however can be burnt as soon as it has been cut down. Solid fuel stoves that are wood burning only don't usually come with a grate or ash pan. This is because wood burns better in its own ash and burns from the top down. With smokeless coal you require a grate to get the correct amount of air under the coal to make it burn properly.

Chimney considerations for your solid fuel stove

If you have a chimney with a stack and a chimney pot, having a solid fuel stove fitted is quite a simple operation, although the job must be carried out by a Hetas registered engineer. You will need to have your chimney swept and tested beforehand; if the chimney fails a smoke test, then it will need to be lined before a solid fuel stove can be fitted. There are two main types of chimney liner, the 316 grade which comes with a ten year guarantee and a 904 grade which comes with a 25 year guarantee. If the solid fuel stove is fitted by a non registered engineer you will need to contact the building inspector from your local council to check that it has been fitted to the manufacturers instructions and ask them to issue a certificate of compliance, this can be rather expensive though. Solid fuel stoves that are not fitted by Hetas registered engineers or passed by the building inspector will not be covered under the manufacturers guarantee.

In most cases, if you don't have a chimney in your property you can use a prefabricated chimney. This is usually a twin wall insulated flue; much cheaper that building a new chimney and will most likely last the lifetime of the solid fuel stove as long as you are burning the recommended fuels, and have it swept on a regular basis. Although you would need to contact your local council for building regulations and in some cases planning permission, you could also build a chimney and line it with pumice or terracotta liners.

A new solid fuel stove can fit in with an existing heating system

A lot of wood burning and multifuel stoves can now easily supply central heating or domestic hot water boilers. They can even be linked into existing heating systems. If you have an open vent system they can be linked by a Dunsley Neutraliser, if you have a pressurised system, otherwise known as a combi boiler, this can be linked through a Thermal storage unit but this can be quite expensive and needs somewhere to site the cylinder.

A real solid fuel stove fire: Heat that will warm your back as well as your front

Once you have experienced the warmth and comfort of a real fire you won't want to go back to any other kind of heating. Wood burning and multifuel stoves are a sealed unit so they dont burn as much fuel as an open fire does and are about three times more efficient. This is because with an open fire you have all the heat going up the chimney and it is constantly pulling cold air from the room. With a sealed appliance the only air that it gets is what you give it through the air controls which enable the heat to build up and come out into the room. Most solid fuel stoves need 2 inches of space at the back, 6 inches at each side and 12 inches of hearth in front. The hearth needs to be at least 2 inches thick and made from non combustible material. The stove and pipe also need to be 18 inches away from anything combustible, these are the current building regulations in England; however manufacturers instructions override building regulations so if it states you need more room in the installation instructions you should have more room. If you are unsure when purchasing a solid fuel stove you will need to contact Ansell Chimneys who are Hetas registered, to make absolutely certain that you will get all the correct information.

A real solid fuel stove fire cannot be beaten!

A solid fuel stove fire is a different kind of warmth that seems to spread around the house not just in the room where the fire is. When buying a fire you will need to make sure you get the correct size for the room that it is going to be fitted in. Ansell Chimneys will be able to help you with this if you have your room sizes, the height of the ceilings and the approximate age of the property. Ansell Chimneys will also be able to advise you on materials to use around the fire and all current building regulations regarding solid, multifuel and wood burning stoves.

Further information

If you would like to know more or are interested in a quote we would be happy to help. Phone us on 01923 661 614, email us at info@ansellchimneys.co.uk or fill in our free quote form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.

Ansell Chimneys

t: 01923 661 614

m: 07941 282 325

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