Home automation gives you the flexibility to have complete control of the devices in your house, and contrary to the notion that it's only for 'rich' people, it's actually not as expensive as you'd think - in fact, it is a very realistic option for the typical homeowner!
Tip 1 – The best fuel for stoves is hardwood logs having no more than 20% moisture content for the best burn. Kiln-dried or seasoned work equally as well, but they must be seasoned long enough to achieve low moisture levels.
Tip 2 – Smartening up most stoves is straightforward and can be done yourself. An annual summer respray or repaint with stove black is often the best way to maintain a first-class finish. An interim tidy up can be carried out using WD40 on a clean rag. Beware, white smearing can dry on to the black paint if using a wet cloth and ash or stone/tile dust gets mixed in.
Tip 3 – Give your stove a thorough internal clean from time to time. Firstly, drop down the baffle plate and brush off any ash or debris. Rake out the grate and empty the ash pan. Brush the grate and firebox liners with a hand brush or, for the best finish, use a vacuum brush attachment (make sure the stove is cold!). Finally, wipe the glass with household glass cleaner or ceramic hob cleaner and buff off.
Tip 4 – Don’t want to handle logs, firelighters and ash – but would love to have a stove? Simple – take a look at our gas stove models. You can have the look of a freestanding stove in a fireplace chamber, but with the convenience of natural or bottled gas to run it. Flickering flames, and realistic detailed ceramic logs, inside the solid steel stove body really do give all the style of a solid fuel burner, without any of the inconvenience!
Tip 5 – Squeaking handle or stove door hinges? This is a simple problem to fix – just use a smear of copper or graphite-based grease, from a motorist or DIY store, to lubricate the hinge pins and mating surfaces. It also works for air control threads and similar.
Tip 6 – Preventing condensation or rusting on stoves when out of use is easy using a spray of WD40, or light machine oil, which keeps out moisture from surroundings until the stove is used again.
Tip 7 – Load logs into your stove carefully – use the leather gauntlets provided to position one or two chunky logs within the firebox for the best flame picture and combustion.
Tip 8 – Use your stove airwash air control to keep the stove glass as clear as possible when burning wood. Good dry logs should require little or no primary (under grate) air, and will burn very well with the airwash (secondary) air supply only. Single air control stoves will do this automatically, by proportioning the air correctly on the wood setting.
Tip 9 – Reduce the amount of smoke, and keep the glass of your stove cleaner during ignition, by using the top-down ignition method. Put two small diameter logs on the grate of the stove, two further logs crossed over the first pair, followed by a firelighter and a ‘jenga-style’ criss-cross crib of kindling on top. The wood must be fully dry, but once the fire lights, it should burn down to the base logs, and be ready for the next fuel load with little intervention.
Tip 10 – Use wood “wool” and wax firelighters instead of the white chemical ones – they do not smell, produce much less soot and smoke, and are far more likely to light the fire successfully using just one.
Tip 11 – Use your stove gloves when operating the door handle, and air controls of your stove. They are provided for that reason and prevent burning of your fingers!
Tip 12 – Use a stove pipe thermometer to monitor the approximate temperature levels in the flue pipe. This can help to get optimum flue temperatures more quickly and reduce tar, condensation and soot formation in the chimney.
Tip 13 – Don’t slumber your stove (burning very slowly) as a habitual operating method. The smoke and chemicals that can be released, will shorten the life of the stove itself, the chimney, and particularly flue liners.
Tip 14 – Smokeless coal type products need to be burnt with care to avoid damaging your stove. Once ignited properly, be sure to regulate the air control to a slower burn rate, to avoid over firing, and possible damage from overheating.
Tip 15 – Flue liners are not essential in all chimneys, but professional advice should definitely be sought as each property and chimney is different.
Tip 16 – For maximum safety always fit a CO (carbon monoxide) detector in the same room as a solid fuel combustion appliance of any kind.
Tip 17 – Never burn painted or preserved wood (such as treated decking). It is illegal and will cause a build-up of tar and soot, and will cause damage to your stove and flue, or flue liner.
Tip 18 – Never burn house coal on closed stoves, it can cause severe soot build-up, and will not provide a good heat output, compared to proper closed stove fuel.
Tip 19 – Always burn the best fuel you can afford. Hardwood logs are the best and can be bought kiln-dried ready for use.
Look Book: Storage
Display your logs and kindling beautifully with these stylish baskets and holders.
Selecting the right stove:
When thinking about adding a heating appliance to your home, there are a few key things to consider, which have been outlined below.
Understand what kind of heat output you need for the room
Stoves can emit anything from 2kW to 19kW of heat, and deciding on how much heat you need, will be dictated mostly by the size of the room it is being installed in. If the room is adequately insulated, the calculation to carry out is to divide the room’s volume (in metres) by 15. The result will provide the average heating requirements for that particular room in kilowatts.
It is always important to ask your installer to help clarify the exact needs of the room in question, but that calculation can give you a rough idea of what stoves to start looking out for.
Decide on the fuel type
It is important to think about what fuel type you would like in the house – and this will help to shape the requirements for your self-build. The wide range of woodburning, solid fuel gas and electric stoves make this decision a difficult one.
Woodburning is an environmentally-friendly way of heating your home, in addition to creating a traditional real-life fire ambiance. These stoves are highly regarded, as they are a carbon neutral source of heat, as the carbon dioxide expelled when burnt is about the same as what is absorbed by trees.
Gas, on the other hand, is clean and these stoves are very efficient. Having one installed in your house would be beneficial, not only because of its ability to quickly heat up a room, but also being able to control it from your sofa, as most come with remote controls.
Both of the above will require some planning, in terms of the build, as they will need specific requirements to be taken into consideration.
Is a chimney needed?
If you are considering a woodburning stove for your self-build, a chimney would make it possible, but in many modern houses chimneys are not always present. What can be done instead is to use a twin-wall flue system, like Stovax’s Professional XQ. This allows rooms without chimneys to enjoy the warmth of a woodburner.
For a gas fire, a chimney is not a requirement as balanced flue or powered flue stoves can be installed. These have vents and extractors respectively, to be able to draw the combustion air out of the house.
A balanced flue appliance is installed with twin-wall pipe vents, which draw in air for combustion from the outer pipe, but also remove the combustion gases from the house through the inner pipe. A powered flue allows for installations that are not directly against a wall, as they use an extractor unit mounted to vent to carry the combustion gases directly outside.
Should you consider electric?
Woodburners and gas stoves aren’t for everyone, and an alternative is to go electric. With many electric heating appliances running at up to 99% efficiency, and emitting on average 1-2kW of heat, these could be the perfect substitute. With these, all you need to think about is making sure there’s a standard plug available in the area you would like your stove installed. Electric stoves are versatile and can be put in many different rooms around the house, as they don’t require much to be able to be installed.
Is there anything else to consider?
When you have decided on a woodburner, gas or electric – it is important to consider the distance to combustibles. This is the distance between the heating appliance and any surrounding combustible material. Any retailer will be able to let you know what this distance is for the various stoves they have on offer.
The few hints and tips above, should make it easier to start thinking about your heating needs, and what you need to consider with the different options available. For further information, contact your local retailer who will be able to help you with more accurate suggestions for your particular build.
Building and heating the natural way
Homes of wooden construction are rising in popularity, thanks to their sustainability credentials and quick build times. Coupled with wood heating, you have a green solution that makes the most of nature’s original building and heating material. Stephen Dodds, Key Account Manager for Schiedel Chimney Systems, explains.
The recent push for housing schemes and funding towards affordable homes has contributed to increased demand for timber framed homes, chosen for their cost-saving, construction and sustainability benefits.
Combined with the latest generation of woodburning stoves; which are highly effective at spreading warmth through well-insulated, open-plan spaces, with some featuring heating and hot water capabilities; and wood offers dual benefits for the 21st century home.
Wood also helps comply with Document L of the Building Regulations, which focuses on energy efficiency, including lowering carbon emissions.
Modern stove models generally achieve upwards of 80% efficiency – some even top 90%. The carbon savings made by using wood heating also satisfy Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) calculations.
Airtight issues: New builds are very well insulated, so any chimneys or flues must meet the ‘blower door test’ so as not to compromise the building’s airtightness. There are new products that have been specifically made for this type of building, ensuring wood heating is an efficient heating method.
Safety concerns: There is a risk of chimney fire in any building using a woodburning stove, but single wall flue penetrations through a timber frame are a particular concern, so special care must be taken. Schiedel’s Ignis Protect can be used to pass through both interior and exterior timber frame walls up to the temperature class T600. Stove installation should always be carried out by a HETAS qualified engineer.
Get the building, stove and associated equipment working in harmony, and wood becomes an ancient solution to 21st century housing demands.
Styles and special features
Ludlow Stoves, a specialist in providing carbon neutral heating solutions for your home, explains some of the different options and technologies on the market.
The traditional matt black firebox has enduring appeal for both period-style homes and contemporary spaces – but these days there’s a huge array of statement designs to choose from. Coloured stoves, enamelled stoves and natural stone have a huge appeal. A double-sided version or curved front makes a nice change.
Modern stoves offer many advantages over older models – mainly aimed at either boosting efficiency or improving views of the flames. Airwash technology, which is fairly standard these days, draws air down the inside of the window to help keep it clean and get rid of performance-impairing residues. This air will also act as the primary supply for combustion of the wood.
To further improve performance, Cleanburn systems introduce secondary and tertiary air into the chamber. By combusting the excess hydrocarbons in the smoke, this boosts thermal efficiency and ensures a cleaner burn – reducing the amount of unpleasant particles that go up the chimney. The Charnwood Arc has a single air control with a patented Quattroflow air management system.
If you live in a smoke control area, you can still have a stove. Many models offer a smokeless burn – which has Defra approval. Contact Ludlow Stoves for more information.