What size stove will I need?
The most common FAQ - The size of stove which you will need will of course depend on the age of your home, the size of your room, the number of windows in the room, number of external walls, it’s insulation, how open plan it is, whether there are any stairs coming off it etc. Most stove manufacturers measure stove size in kilowatts (kw). A rough guide is to measure your room in metres then use the formula below - for a more accurate guide, arrange a free inspection for us to come round and our experienced team can take all of the above into consideration before providing you with a guide number of kw to go for. length (m) x width (m) x height (m) / 14. This will give you the KW output required.
Do I really need to line my chimney?
'Do I really need to line my chimney' is a question asked by a lot of our customers. This is the answer! Most chimneys, certainly in older properties, were designed for open fires where you astonishingly lose 80% of the heat up the chimney and only get 20% into the room - as well as having a wicked draught around your ankles. Open fires are what wing-backed chairs were designed for! All of this heat takes up a fair amount of room and travels upwards quickly. It's travelling so fast that it doesn't cool and condense until it reaches the top and all exhaust gases and any nasty tar, creosote, nasty condensates are successfully expelled. This is how an open fire and chimney should work.
When you put a stove or woodburner at the bottom of your chamber, you instantly reverse the ratio. 80% of the heat comes into the room and only 20% is lost up the chimney. This vastly smaller amount of hot air is therefore swirling around your large chamber, it is moving upwards much slower and leaves behind all sorts of sooty deposits which form as creosote on it's much slower journey, providing much more scope for a chimney fire. It is inevitably going to cool and condense before it reaches the top and the condensation, when mixed with sooty deposits, produces sulphuric acid which eats into the mortar and brickwork of your chamber. Over time this can affect the structural integrity of your chimney or cause minuscule cracks through which fatal carbon monoxide can leak.
By lining your chimney your chamber becomes a smaller and constant size all the way up enabling the smaller amount of heat to rise faster and not condense before it reaches the top. You have recreated your open fire chamber in a smaller version to accommodate the smaller amount of gases! By having a smaller and constantly sized flue, you have also made it much easier to sweep and there is no scope for flammable creosote to collect in any nooks and crannies!
If this isn't enough of an incentive, an open fire draws ferociously (hence the draught and the need for your wing-backed chair) as it has to feed the big chamber. A woodburner or stove cuts off this massive updraught as you are controlling the air intake so you need to reduce the size of your chamber to maintain the status quo of the draw. Imagine drinking a drink through a fat straw and a thin straw.... the thin straw is much faster and easier.
Building regs don't state that you have to line your flue when fitting a woodburner or stove, however they do state that you must be sure that the chimney is in good working order and has been sufficiently maintained. In our view this is a very difficult thing to have long standing peace of mind over! For all the good reasons stated, most, and certainly the conscientious installers will strongly recommend fitting a liner, and may even refuse to install your stove without fitting one.
If you are still in doubt as to the need, give your local fire brigade a call - get their view on installing a stove or woodburner without lining the chimney!
What does HETAS mean?
HETAS is the official body recognised by Government to approve biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses. In short, if the company that installs your stove is HETAS registered they should know what they are doing! Go to the HETAS website or have a look at our HETAS page
Woodburner or Multifuel stove?
A woodburner or multifuel stove is largely down to personal choice. The main differences are:
- Wood needs a top down draught and coal needs a bottom up draught. Consider a bonfire in your garden - wood burns well as a bonfire, coal doesn't - it just congeals into an unpleasant mass.
- A woodburner, therefore does not have a grate, the fuel is burnt on a solid floor and the stove will only have top air controls. When you want to 'do the grate' the ash needs to be scooped out of the firebox manually, leaving a layer in the bottom as wood likes to sit in an ashbed.
- A multifuel stove will have a grate and a separate ashpan and sometimes an external riddler. It will also have top and bottom air controls. When you want to 'do the grate' you agitate the riddler and ask your partner or a particularly obedient child to take the ashpan away and empty it outside!
We have 2 stoves at home and only ever burn wood - but have still opted for multifuel stoves for the sheer convenience of having the separate ashpan. Once the fire is lit, we close the bottom air control completely and then regulate our 'top down' draught using the top air controls so that the stove acts as a woodburner and the glass stays nice and clean. It is probably not quite as economical as using a dedicated woodburner - but I am happy to sacrifice that for the convenience of emptying.
Can you supply a stove that I find online?
We are pretty sure we can, just ask!
Why are stoves cheaper on the internet?
A lot of things are cheaper online - we have a showroom, fitters, three vans, trained and knowledgeable staff, a reputation for great aftersales service etc. etc. None of which come free. Our business ethos is that we want to provide an excellent service so that you get the best stove for your needs and that it is fitted safely to give you peace of mind about the health of your family. The internet stores just can't offer this level of service. That is why they are cheaper and that is why customers come to us when they actually want some help and good advice.
Please do check out any warranties or guarantees offered online - to our knowledge they all offer shorter warranties and guarantees with more restrictions than you will get from a main dealer.
As mentioned below, it is your choice if you wish to buy a stove from Scotland or East Anglia and have it shipped over here - but don't be surprised if they won't send an engineer from Scotland or East Anglia if the warranty needs servicing.
If I buy a stove online, will you fit it for me?
Reluctantly, and in some cases no! Please just think about it for a moment. We make our living installing stoves and chimney linings. When you ask us to do this, you are asking us to sacrifice any profit we might have made on the stove and then to take on the responsibility for fitting it. If it isn't the right stove for your needs or great quality or something is wrong with it whose fault does the customer think it is?........usually ours!!
Of course it is your choice if you wish to spend that sort of money on something being shipped from the other end of the country - however, it is unlikely that your supplier will be willing to send an engineer all the way to said other end of the country to service the warranty. If you truly need us to help you fit a new online purchased stove we will - but the fitting charge will have to reflect the increased responsibility of fitting someone else's stove - sorry!
Don't forget also that for the first year the responsibility for your stove lies with your retailer, not the manufacturer. It would be much easier to pop into our showroom if you have a problem rather than deal with a large, anonymous warehouse retailer in the depths of East Anglia or Scotland - much more tricky to go and bang on their door!
Well, where to start......
Can I install a stove in my conservatory?
Yes you can! However occasionally you will have to seek planning permission. This is particularly relevant if you are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The answer is to install a Twin Wall system. This is a chimney system which has an inner skin, a densely packed layer of insulation and an outer skin. If you have a brick glazed conservatory you may be able to go straight through the bottom brick section of the conservatory and up the outside (dependant upon how many courses of bricks there are in the bricked section) or you can go through the roof of the conservatory. If this is glazed you will need a glazier to cut a hole in one of the glazed roof panels to accommodate the flue. If your conservatory roof is polycarbonate we are able to cut this hole and for both scenarios you will need a flashing to protect the edges of the glass/polycarbonate which will be siliconed in position and may not look that pretty from below. Some customers choose to replace the panel which the flue goes through to solid to avoid this.
Should I buy a cast iron stove or a steel stove?
A cast iron stove will take longer to heat up, but will retain residual heat longer. A steel stove will heat up more quickly, but lose its heat more quickly. Advocates of cast iron will tell you that steel stoves will warp and advocates of steel will tell you that cast iron cracks. In our view, this is not a decision breaker. We have installed some 4000 stoves and in all that time we have had one cast iron stove top crack and one side wall of a steel stove warp. In each case we were able to sort the problem out quickly and easily. If you fall in love with a cast iron stove when you were seeking steel - go for it! and vice versa!
The emphasis has got to be on buying the best quality stove, whether it is cast iron or steel, that your budget can accommodate. We can supply almost any stove, however there are stoves that we feel are poor quality and poor value for money and if this is the case with the stove you choose, please don't be offended if we say so!
What does Stove Efficiency mean?
The amount of heat energy produced by the fire that ends up as heat in the room.
What sort of hearth do I need?
Different stoves require different hearth requirements. Before you do anything to your fireplace get us to advise. All too often customers renovate a fireplace and then find they have to alter it again to enable a correct stove installation.
How long does it take to install a stove or woodburner?
Normally about a day. We do fixed price quotations so you don't need to worry about poor estimates.
Can I fit the stove myself?
Yes. You must get it signed off to current building regulations though by the Council and there is a charge for this - sometimes quite a hefty one! Please note - most solid fuel installation problems are DIY installations - it's not just dropping a tube down a chimney!
Carbon Monoxide poisoning only happens with gas doesn't?
No!! The media, annoyingly, are obsessed with giving the public information about avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning from gas or oil appliances. However, carbon monoxide is produced when ANY fuel is burned including wood and coal. Carbon monoxide is silent, invisible, tasteless and odourless and it kills people. This is one of the reasons why lining your chimney is so important. In an unlined chimney, hairline cracks can appear anywhere the whole length of the chimney, so a property may have CO leaking into it in the room where the appliance is, in a bedroom above or even in the loft. You can't see it, smell it, taste it or hear it, and the potential consequences of it leaking into your home don't bear thinking about. On 1st October 2010 it became a legal requirement per Document J, Building Regulations that where a new or replacement fixed solid fuel appliance is installed in a dwelling that a carbon monoxide detector much be provided for use in the room where the appliance is. As well as having one of these detectors, it's important your stove or woodburner is fitted by a HETAS registered installer, you have your chimney swept regularly, your stove serviced annually and any ventilation fitted kept clear. Obviously all services Green Man Stoves are delighted to provide! We also sell carbon monoxide alarms in our showroom. A headache is the most common symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning. Other common symptoms include:
- dizziness and nausea (feeling sick)
- vomiting (being sick)
- tiredness and confusion
- stomach pain
- shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu. However, unlike flu, carbon monoxide poisoning doesn't cause a high temperature (fever). Your symptoms may be less severe when you are away from the source of the carbon monoxide. The longer you inhale CO gas, the worse your symptoms will be. You may lose balance, vision and memory. Eventually, you may lose consciousness. This can happen within two hours if there is a lot of CO gas in the air. However, symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can sometimes occur days or months after breathing in carbon monoxide and include:
- memory loss
- co-ordination problems
Certain people in your household may be affected by CO poisoning more quickly than others. Those at particular risk include:
- babies and young children
- pregnant women
- people with heart or breathing problems
Pets may be the first to show signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, the smaller an animal or a person is, the faster CO gas will affect them. If your pet suddenly becomes ill or dies unexpectedly, and death is not related to old age or an existing health condition, you should investigate the possibility of a CO leak. Please see our page relating solely to the issue of Carbon Monoxide.
How dry does my wood need to be?
One of the most critical factors in wood burning is the moisture content of the wood. This is where wood seasoning comes into play. Freshly cut wood will contain moisture content of around 65-90%. This wood should never be used. Apart from producing very low outputs this wet wood will also generate large amounts of soot and tar, which can potentially lead to chimney fires (as these particles will coat your chimney and will fuel a chimney fire). For best results wood should have a moisture content of less than 20%. The process of removing the excess moisture is called seasoning. Seasoning is air drying the wood and can take up to two years. Wood should be stored in a well ventilated (but covered) structure, outdoors. Your stored wood should have good ventilation above, below and through it. You can buy kiln dried wood but this is not as environmentally friendly as air dried wood.
You can test wood by using a moisture meter. Green Man Stoves sells a simple device for around £35, it is good enough for you to reject a load of wet wood.
There are some obvious signs if you are burning wet wood:
- The fire will be difficult to light and even more difficult to keep going
- There won't be much heat. All you are doing when burning wet wood is essentially boiling water!
- The fire will be very smoky
- Your stove glass will turn black
- You will find your flue will become restricted or blocked with creosote (tar). This is highly dangerous as it is exceedingly flammable and the prime cause of chimney fires.
Do I need to buy and store wood in advance?
If you have a local friendly merchant then you can use him for regular deliveries. Most folk will buy wood and store it in a wood store. This has the advantage of ensuring the wood is dry and conditioned. It is also there when you need it. If you have room, build a wood store, or use space in the shed. Ideally, try to stay one year ahead. That way you will ensure you are only burning well seasoned wood. We do offer a wood store building service - these aren't your flat packed stores you sometimes see in DIY shops. These are solid, bespoke and built to withstand the test of time and the elements.
How much wood will I need?
We have 2 woodburning stoves and will probably use between 2 and 5 cubic meters of wood this year. Most merchants sell by the load, and of course the amounts and costs can vary.
Where do I find a reliable wood merchant?
Give us a call to find out our current recommendations, but you should see lots of adverts in the newspaper or your local Parish Magazine. Have a think about buying one of our digital moisture meters which will enable you to test whether a load of firewood you have had delivered truly is 'seasoned' or not! If it isn't you can always reject it or agree to take it if you have the space to store it, but refuse to pay the 'seasoned' premium.
Is coal smokeless fuel?
No!! Multifuel stoves are not designed to burn it, and doing so may invalidate your warranty. Bituminous, house or lump coal burns with long flames which play around and above the throat plate directly onto the underside of the top of your stove which may result in burned out throat plates and cracked top plates. It also creates huge quantities of soot with all the associated blocked flue and black glass issues. Don't do it!!
Can I connect my stove to a central heating system?
Many stoves have the option of a back boiler, this can provide hot water or link into a central heating circuit to distribute the heat around the house. You must take care as there are safety implications. You can imagine the damage that an exploding back boiler would do. However a good plumber or heating engineer will install a safe and very effective system that will give you years of cheap heat.
If I have a back boiler will it reduce the output from the stove?
Yes, you may notice lower temperatures from the stove, or that you need to use more wood. You don’t get something for nothing!
What should I be doing with my new stove?
We will always give you a 'lesson' in how to use your new stove and how to care for your stove and liner before we leave. We are only a phone call away though, so do call if you want further clarification or just a bit of reassurance that you are 'doing it right!',
- Do ONLY use quality clean, dry firewood, or smokeless fuel. The stove will give you much more heat and you will avoid chimney problems. Burning unseasoned or wet wood causes creosote to build up in the chimney or flue – this is highly flammable and can cause a chimney fire. Creosote can be very difficult to remove and very costly to rectify. In severe cases the chimney may need re-lining completely. Household waste must not be burnt. Avoid unseasoned or wet wood, treated wood & pallets, painted or preserved wood, house coal. Using any unapproved fuel will invalidate the product warranty.
- Do check your wood is less than 20% moisture inside the log when split. Think about purchasing a digital wood moisture meter – this will enable you to reject a load of ‘seasoned’ firewood if it isn’t less than 20% moisture, or at least avoid a ‘seasoned’ premium on the price!
- We were stockists for UK Heatlogs. These are a cleaner and greener alternative to other fuels as they are carbon neutral. The sawdust and woodwaste is dried lowering the moisture content to approximately 6% and then compressed to form very dense briquettes. They burn for much longer and hotter than seasoned firewood, producing about 18kj of heat/g. Unfortunately UK Heatlogs are no longer being produced. The product is great and we are actively seeking a replacement - Watch this space!
- Do get your flue swept, checked for blockages and your stove serviced at least annually and always at the end of your burn season. Don’t leave corrosive material inside your flue over the summer. This is a warranty/guarantee requirement. However if your appliance is used continuously or burns either wood and/or bituminous coal, more frequent sweeping is recommended. Only polypropylene brushes of the correct diameter should be used to prevent damage to the inner liner. Chemical cleaners must not be used.
- Do always use a fireguard for children and the infirm.
- Do use the stove gloves and tools provided as needed.
- Do use the top air control (air wash) to help keep the glass clean.
- Do warm up the stove fully on the first loads of fuel before reducing the air controls to a lower position.
- Do keep your stove clean inside and out.
- Do test your carbon monoxide alarm frequently.
What's the best way to light a fire in my new stove?
A great many of our customers are seasoned solid fuel stove users, and some are first time users - Whatever your level of experience, I learn new things all the time, and it is worth just reading this through to see if you pick up any tips. As with all things, there will be a learning curve as you get used to your new stove, and we're here to help if you struggle with anything!
Lighting Your Fire:
- Open all air controls fully.
- Place a firelighter or 5-10 pieces of tightly twisted newspaper onto the grate.
- Build a wigwam or crib of kindling over the fire lighting material.
- Light the firelighter or paper and leave the door ajar.
- Once the kindling is burning well place a small log or two, or heatlogs or smokeless briquettes on the fire leaving the door ajar until the logs catch well.
- Close the door and allow the fire to build up by adding another small log or two or some smokeless fuel. If the fire dies down, then open the door again to give it more air.
- Leave the fire to burn through and get fully warmed up before reducing the air controls down to a running position.
- If you are only burning wood, try to keep the bottom air vent closed and only control using the top air vent. The stove will use less fuel, give out more heat and keep your glass cleaner.
- Don’t leave the fire unattended whilst warming up. Inadvertent and damaging over-firing can result.
- If lighting the stove is difficult, try burning a couple of sheets of loosely crumpled newspaper first. This will warm the flue and eject any pockets of cold air which may affect the draw.
Troubleshooting your stove and chimney liner
We've listed a few common problems here, give us a call if you want further help or your particular issue isn't listed - If we can help, we will!
1. When to re-fuel: Refuel logs as soon as the flames have burnt out and the logs have turned to crumbling charcoal. Refuel smokeless fuel which has turned to ash all over and heat output is reducing.
2. Glass blacking up: Make sure the air wash control is open (top air) or open further to retain a hot combustion level, maintain flames above the fuel. Make sure the fuel is properly dry inside – less than 20% moisture. Burning unsuitable smoky coal or poor quality wood will cause this. 3. Smoke into the room: A small amount of smoke or smoky smell during re-fuelling is perfectly normal. Re-fuelling before the flames have gone will cause more smoke than necessary. Smoke coming out through the air controls shows a problem with ventilation or the flue or chimney. Try opening a window which will add ventilation, but if this does not help do not use the stove and call us.
4. A crack in firebox liners: This is normal and they do not need to be replaced until they cannot protect the steel firebox any longer. We can order replacements for you.
5. Bent or sagging baffle plate: This is solely due to over firing of the stove. The steel must approach melting point to sag under gravity. We can order replacements for you.
6. Air leaks: Replace rope seals and gaskets to maintain the air tightness of your firebox. This is included in our annual Stove Service. (Firebricks, baffle plates, rope seals, gaskets and glass are not warranted due to the severe and aggressive conditions they must endure during operation).
7. Slow burning even with controls fully open: Poor quality, damp fuel can cause this, but assuming that is eliminated it indicates a poor flue draught caused by lack of ventilation or a leak/blockage in the flue or chimney – Call us.
Why should I have my stove or woodburner serviced?
As with any appliance or equipment which is in fairly frequent use, it is advisable to have your stove serviced annually to make sure it is safe, working properly and looking good! This may also be a requirement of your house insurance and stove warranty. Green Man Stoves offers a full chimney sweep and stove servicing service which includes:
- Checking your stove glass for any damage, cleaning it and advising if any replacement is needed
- Checking the door seals for tightness and replacing stove rope if necessary
- Checking all movable controls - top and bottom air, riddlers, dampers and adjusting if necessary
- Examining fire cement seals - rejointing if required
- Examining register plate seals and resealing if necessary
- Sweeping full length of flue liner and removing all debris
- Examining body of the stove and respray
- Inspecting your installation for leaks
- Advising on fuel being used
- Checking any ventilation fitted is clear of obstruction
What is, and when might I need a CCTV chimney camera inspection
CCTV Camera Inspections tell us if it is safe for you to have a stove installedLining a chimney involves hanging a stainless steel chimney liner down your chimney through your house. Before you commit to do this, you need to know your chimney is safe and sound. So that it will:
- Hold the chimney liner without your chimney falling down!
- Prevent poisonous gases from leaking into your home should your chimney liner fail for any reason.
- Keep your chimney separate from your neighbours chimney (and vice versa of course!)
For the full picture (haha) visit our CCTV Chimney Camera Inspection page Reasons Not to Have a CCTV Camera Inspection - None!! Just because 'you're not dead yet' (we hear this all the time) doesn't mean your chimney is safe. If you can minimise a risk - why wouldn't you? It isn't just your risk. If something bad happens, someone will be blamed. We minimise our exposure to risk by making sure your installation will be safe, legal and insurable before we start.
What is a Caframo Ecofan?
The surface heat of your stove is converted into electricity by the Caframo Ecofan which powers a fan to move and circulate warm air throughout your room. When James first brought this home I was unimpressed! I thought it was a 'boys toy' and was not keen on having it in my lounge. However, I am a convert - they really do work and by careful positioning you can direct warm air into colder areas (e.g. my office!). You do need to beware of cheap (mainly Chinese - need I say more) copies, as they don't work anything like as well. There is loads more technical information available on the Ecofan website. Green Man Stoves stocks a range of Ecofans in our showroom. If you are an existing customer - or have a 'trustworthy' face (!) James will lend you one to try before you buy.
We've found a lot have been purchased as Christmas, birthday and even Father's Day pressies for those difficult men to buy for in your life!