Buying & Fitting a Woodburning Stove or Fireplace
More and more people are buying a woodburning stove for their heating needs. Not only do they look attractive and make your room look homely, but they're eco-friendly and can make substantial savings on heating for many people.
However, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind if you are buying a woodburning stove, or if you're buying a house that already has one fitted:
- Firstly, and I hate to start on a low note, you should never underestimate just how devastating a chimney fire can be - it is NEVER worth taking chances.
- Secondly, be aware that a badly fitted woodburning stove could lead to increased danger from carbon monoxide poisoning, so get it fitted properly.
- A lot of people will fit theit woodburning stove themselves, without a liner - and these people will tell you it's worked well for years and they are happy. You should remember that they have also been lucky.
- In the UK, your woodburning stove must be fitted by a HETAS qualified engineer who is willing to sign it off; this will mean you have no problems with house insurance, should the worst occur. If you are selling a house with a woodburning stove in it, then part of the HIPs report asks for guarantees etc and proof that the woodburning stove was fitted by a qualified fitter.
INSTALLING A WOODBURNING STOVE
Here is some more information you should know and think about when having a woodburning stove installed, or if you're buying a house with a woodburning stove:
- When your house and chimney were built, it will most likely have been lined with a minimum 8" liner, and designed for use with an open fire. In the UK, since 2001 terracotta/clay liners have not been used because of thermal shock, With thermal shock the liner breaks (unseen) in the flue; this is most often due to a small chimney fire. The liner then allows fumes to pass through into rooms either within your house or neighbour's. You won't even know this has happened.
- Open fires burn with a higher oxygen level than woodburning stove. This means drier exhaust gases pass through the flue. However, with a woodburning stove you control the rate of burn and the exhaust is more most as well as being chemically denser than with an open fire. Over time, this difference in what is going up your chimney will lead to the clay liners leaching black gloop through the walls, both internally and externally
USE A WOODBURNING STOVE FITTER
It is imperative that you find a qualified fitter to install your woodburning stove for you. This is not something you can, or should, do yourself. Don't let a friendly face offer to fit it for you "after all, how difficult can it be?" .. here are some reasons why fitting a woodburning stove is so critical:
- If you don't have your woodburning stove fitted by a qualified fitter in the first instance, then later on you will have problems trying to find somebody to help you with it.
- The last person to touch your woodburning stove system is legally responsible for it, to the extent where they could end up in prison. In the case of carbon monoxide poisoning, this could even be a life sentence.
- To test the woodburning stove flue, to see if its integrity has been maintained (that it's not broken), is uneconomical. The cost of such a test is up to £600 and has the same relevancy as a car MoT test (i.e. it's OK on the day of testing, but could fail the next day)
- If your woodburning stove failed a flue test, then you would need to line it anyway.
If you do manage to find somebody who is prepared to tee into your flue, then the following problems will occur:
- Gases exiting a 6" flue into a 8" will cause condensation on the cold liner, this moisture will drip water back into the wood burner or onto the outside of the stove.
- If your woodburning stove installation doesn't comply with the manufacturer's fitting instructions, then you might find your household insurance has been invalidated.
- If the installation has not been signed off by a HETAS Registered Installer, you will need to get Building Regs to sign this off - which they are not obliged to do. You will need Building Regs to be signed off on your woodburning stove when you sell your property.
- You have a legal obligation and moral duty to yourself, your family and your neighbours to ensure your woodburning stove has been fitted properly and will not cause carbon monoxide poisoning or any chimney problems
So as you can, fitting a woodburning stove needs to be taken seriously. This is not a DIY job at all. In order to be safe and to keep safe, minimising any future problems, you will need to get your woodburning stove fitted professionally, by a HETAS Registered Installer.
More In This Series
- Woodburning Stove Safety Tips
You can't beat the look of a lovely woodburning stove, they can really turn a house into a home and you can spend many a pleasant evening relaxing in the warm glow of a woodburning stove, but how do you make sure it's safe...
BUYING A WOODBURNING STOVE
So, when looking to buy a woodburning stove, your first consideration has to be who will you get to fit it. If you were thinking of picking one up on ebay and fitting it yourself, or having a friend fit it for you isn't really an option. Buying and fitting a woodburning stove has to be done professionally, to ensure your own safety.
Beyond that, all you need to do is work out which woodburning stove you want to buy, and here are a few tips:
- If you are planning on fitting a woodburning stove inside an existing fireplace cavity, then ensure you know the width and height of your fireplace and the width/height of the woodburning stove you like the look of.
- If you're going out shopping for a woodburning stove, then it would be a good idea to take with you a cut out of your existing fire surround, so you can compare the size and fit.
- Find out the cost of fitting the woodburning stove before you even look at the fires themselves, you can't skimp on the cost of the fitting, but you can cut back on the cost of buying a woodburning stove.
I hope this brief overview of buying and fitting a woodburning stove has been useful, but, more importantly, I hope that it will save somebody's house or health as they choose to do things properly and use a proper HETAS Registerered Installer.
Although the above information was written with the UK market in mind, I'm sure local laws in every country will be similar, so you need to check the situation where you live.
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