The last few days have seen the mercury plummeting on the thermometer and there’s no denying that winter is well and truly here. It is now time to ensure that your existing log burner is working safely and efficiently (if you haven’t done so already) or consider your existing heating arrangements and whether a woodburning stove would be a practical addition to your home. Whilst installation before Christmas is unlikely, at least you could look forward to the benefits later on and enjoy the coziness throughout the whole of next winter.
As always, I would highly recommend engaging the services of a professional installer with a strong track record. In this sector, this would be a firm satisfying all current regulations e.g. HETAS and Building Regulations, who would undertake a professional survey and risk assessment to ensure any installation would be safe and appropriate for your home. The following are pointers for your consideration but are by no means exhaustive and the survey will enable a professional installer to provide specific advice.
1. Check if you are in a “Smoke Control Area” this can be done by referring to your local authority. If you are, then you will need to follow the fuel and stove requirements.
2. Consider the heat output that you require. The construction, insulation and layout of the room/area have an impact in this regard. Stoves work best if they are operating close to their heat output. Too small and whilst you might have a nice focal point in the room, you’ll be running off for an extra pair of socks and an icelandic jumper!
3. Air circulation and ventilation is important, both from a safety standpoint and the efficiency of the burner.
4. Consider practicalities as well as aesthetics. There are wood burners out there that work really well on a compacted bed of ash which means you are not having to de-ash every day.
5. Carbon monoxide alarms are obligatory and should be positioned according to the manufacturers instructions to ensure that they do their job properly. i.e low down and /or by a window or door is not the place.
6. Bear in mind, depending upon the installation, that there may be new plasterwork which will benefit from an extended period of time to dry out naturally at an ambient temperature to avoid cracking as a result of a sudden increased temperature. This means patience is required before rushing to light up!
7. Wood source, humidity and storage. The wood you burn needs to be dry wood i.e. less than 20% humidity as a benchmark. If you are buying your firewood it is worth asking for kiln dried from a reliable source. If you are storing your own chopped wood this could take 1 or 2 years and a humidity meter can check how damp it is. Store the wood so that it is covered to keep the rain off but leave the sides open for the air to blow through: a wood store is ideal.
Of course, there are multifuel stoves out there as well as other heating options. As a log burner convert, I’m currently really appreciating the welcome, the heat and the unadulterated coziness of our two woodburning stoves. Keep warm this winter!