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Thinking about a wood burner?

2
Jan

Thinking about a wood burner?

Thinking about a wood burner?

Often considered stylish and a way of adding character to your property, installing a wood burner has been on the increase over the last few years. 

So, if the idea of cosying up in front of your own log burner this winter sounds appealing, our blog which includes a list of pros and cons to installing a wood burner should help you make an informed decision.

What size will I need?

Making sure you buy the right size wood burner is one of the most important factors to take into consideration.  The heat they release is measured in kilowatts, ranging from 3kW to 15kW.  If you choose a wood burner which is too small for your room, it may not provide sufficient heat and if you choose one which is too big you may end up having to open windows to let heat escape!

‘Which?’ recommend multiplying the room height x width x length (in m) and dividing by 14 as a guide to finding the right size, however this isn’t a substitute for professional advice.

Pros

A wood burning stove can be installed almost anywhere in your home, provided there is a way to run a flue to the outside of the house. 

Wood burners give our radiant heat, which warms an area quickly ‘radiating’ heat from all sides of the unit as well as the top and sending warmth out in all directions. 

A wood burner should be able to heat the space it is in without the use of additional background heating thus saving you money.  Wood is significantly cheaper to buy in comparison to other fuels such as gas and electric.

A wood burner will still work in the event of a power outage, meaning you will always have a dependable source of heat.

Available in a number of different types and designs, you should be able to find a wood burner that fits in well with the style of your home. Wood burners are great focal points in both a traditional home and the latest trend for open plan living areas.


Cons

How and where you will source and store wood for your log burner is a major consideration. Unless you have a ready supply to hand, you will need to source and store sufficient wood so that you don’t run out in a cold spell. If you intend to buy wood from a supplier you should make cost comparisons to ensure you get value for money.

The wood used for a log burner ideally needs to have been dried out as damp wood doesn’t burn well so it will need to be stored somewhere dry. The rainy British weather therefore doesn’t lend itself to outdoor wood storage unless it is well covered so ensure you have sufficient suitable space to store a stockpile for winter.

You should be aware that excess external smoke from the flue can create a potential nuisance to your neighbours. The Clean Air Act rules that your wood burner should not emit ‘dark smoke’ from the chimney if you live in a smoke-controlled area like London for example.

Wood burners need regular maintenance to ensure the chimney doesn’t get clogged up which could be potentially dangerous and if it’s badly installed could be a fire risk.  It’s recommended that they are checked annually by a professional too.  Your wood burner will collect a lot of ash so be prepared for the messy job of emptying the hearth regularly.

To help the fuel burn without creating a build-up of harmful carbon monoxide you must have proper ventilation in the room and a carbon monoxide alarm within 1-3m of the appliance. You may also need to add a vent in the room, or if you have no existing chimney you’ll need to install a metal flue. Under the building regulations there needs to be space around the chimney where it passes through the ceiling which in turn can mean some heat loss into the loft/roof space above.


Environmental considerations

Questions are often raised around how detrimental wood burners are for the environment and their contribution to air pollution. The government has introduced a certification for stoves that meet green standards and soon only these types of appliances will be available to buy. Look out for the ‘ecodesign’ sticker which ensures the wood burner has improved air circulation and will burn more cleanly.

Wood burners on the market today typically release 80% less emissions than those of ten years ago as well as being 80% more efficient, meaning you will get more heat for your money.

Ideally the wood you burn should be obtained from a supplier who ensures that there is a strategy for replacing trees harvested. The HETAS' information page on the government's Clean Air Strategy is a good source of information  on this subject.

Installation

The building regulations Part J relate to installing a wood burning stove not least because you will need to ensure that poisonous gases are sealed into the system and do not seep into your house.  We would therefore recommend that your wood burner is fitted by an installer registered under a Competent Person Scheme, such as HETAS, NAPIT or APHC. They will have been trained to install wood burners and can self-certify their work themselves without the need to involve building control other than to register the installation electronically with the appropriate local authority. 

All installers should provide a minimum one year’s warranty on your installation and ask if they can provide you with a Workmanship Warranty, which will cover you for six years after the installation should the company go out of business.  There is also a Deposit and Workmanship Warranty Insurance scheme to protect your deposit.  (We would not expect an installer to ask you for more than a 25% deposit to cover the cost of their work.)

If however you feel you (or your builder) are competent to carry out the work yourself you can submit a building notice (together with the right fee) to us before you start the work and we will come out to check the installation has been carried out correctly and the wood burner is safe to use. As part of this process you will need to complete a “Part J” self-certification form so you should familiarise yourself with these requirements by reading the Approved Document here.

To finally help you decide whether a wood burner is right for your home, please read this user friendly Guide to Installation aimed at homeowners.

 

 

 

 

 

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