Mad About . . .

10 Things You Need To Know About Installing a Wood-burning Stove

11th September 2018

Our kitchen is north-facing. It is practically Baltic in the winter and the two radiators in there just don’t seem to make any difference. We have long fantasised about installing a wood-burning stove but never been sure where to put one. And over the last eight years I have spent much of the winter at this typing wearing scarves and fingerless gloves and typing away like a character in a Dickens novel.

my arada woodburning stove in the kitchen

my arada wood-burning stove in the kitchen

As some of you will know, we extended the kitchen to create this dining space above but we weren’t allowed to go full width across the back, which meant that there was no room for a sofa. Then, earlier this year, Arada approached me about working together to install a stove in my kitchen and I realised that while I couldn’t fit a sofa I could push out a little and create a chimney space for a wood-burning stove.

The man from Arada first came round last March. After spending approximately 10 minutes in the kitchen he asked if we could move to the sitting room to discuss the details. Of course I said. Why? Because it’s bloody freezing in your kitchen came the reply.

And then it was all agreed and I called in my builder to start creating the hole to put it in. And then I called the professional stove installer. And then there was a rash of headlines about how wood-burning stoves were going to be banned. How they were massively anti-environment and how only the terrible metropolitan elite middle classes have them and how awful they were – both the middle classes and the stoves.

“Well,” I said to The Mad Husband. “It looks amazing. Maybe we just won’t light it.”

And then we didn’t need to because after the longest winter in the history of winters, began the hottest summer in the history of summers. And suddenly the north-facing kitchen became the most popular room in the house.

But there’s a chill in the air now. And I am definitely going to light it but first I wanted to explain what is going on so you can be clear on the rules if you are thinking of installing one in your own home.

So here are the 10 things you need to know about installing a wood-burning stove.

ARE WOOD-BURNING STOVES ABOUT TO BE BANNED?

Arada Ecoburn Plus 5 Widescreen image via @house_on_tweed

Arada Ecoburn Plus 5 Widescreen image via @house_on_tweed_avenue

No. But earlier this summer the Government announced that it was proposing to phase out the sale of wet wood and coal for wood-burning stoves. Those bags you buy from the garage or the DIY store are not only a more expensive way to buy fuel, but often contain wet wood which is much more polluting than seasoned, or dry, wood as it gives off so much more smoke.

Wood-burning stoves won’t be banned, but from 2019 (probably – assuming they’re not too busy with other slightly more life-changing events) you will only be allowed to burn dry wood or smokeless coal.

CAN I HAVE ONE AND STILL BE ECO-FRIENDLY?

free-standing woodburning stove via Arada

Arada Farringdon Ecodesign Ready Multi-Fuel Stove with Log Store in Chestnut

Apparently around 10 per cent of UK homes have an open fire or a wood-burning stove and, according to a BBC report, pollution from burning wood and coal in the home currently causes 38 per cent of particulate pollution – far outweighing that caused by industrial combustion (16 per cent) and road transport (12 per cent).

Properly seasoned wood should have a moisture content of less than 20 per cent. Arada are currently giving a moisture meter away when you buy one of their Ecodesign Ready stoves so you can test it before you burn it.

So you will need to buy a stove which has been approved for use in smoke controlled areas by Defra, or a clean-burning “ecodesign ready” model. Which is what I have.

Mine is the small  Farringdon , which is approved for use in Smoke Control Areas. Not only does it exceed the new 2022 European regulations, but it also meets stricter North American low emission levels. Ecodesign is the European-wide programme to lower emissions. It is due to come into force for stoves in the UK in 2022. The PM emissions limit for Ecodesign is 55 per cent lower than for DEFRA exempt stoves so it’s ahead of where it needs to be.

Arada Farringdon Spice C3

Arada Farringdon Ecodesign Ready Multi-Fuel Stove with Stand in Spice

CAN I INSTALL ONE IN MY FIREPLACE?

Yes, but you need to know that a woodburning stove needs a narrower flue than an open fire so you can’t just rip out the fireplace, stick in a stove and point it up the chimney. You will have to install the right sized flue.

WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A CHIMNEY?

Any member of a Competent Persons Scheme (someone who is officially registered to carry out this type of work) which is what you will need for all of this work, will advise you on this. You will have to have a chimney flue that goes up the exterior of the house and it will need to be insulated.

Ecoburn 5 Widescreen A Devon Cream

Arada Ecoburn Plus 5 Widescreen Multi-Fuel Stove in Sandcastle

HOW HIGH DOES THE CHIMNEY HAVE TO BE?

This was the one question I didn’t ask and the answer is probably higher than you think. This is for reasons of draw to make the fire burn properly. It is also affected by the proximity of other buildings and the walls of the rest of the house. Mine is black, which is more expensive than silver but, as the engineer said to me: “Silver can look a bit kebab house.” Expect to be looking at something that is a minimum of 4.5m high.

Arada Stove

Arada Hardy 4 Multi-Fuel Stove in Midnight

WHAT CAN I BURN ON IT?

Basically coal is a bit of a no-no now. You need dry, seasoned wood with a moisture content of less than 20 per cent, or smokeless solid fuel such as anthracite. A list of approved fuels is available on the Solid Fuels Association website.

You also need to decide if you are buying a wood-burning stove or a multi-fuel one.

HOW MUCH SPACE DO I NEED AROUND IT?

Arada i600 Slimline A2

Arada  i600 Slimline Freestanding Mid Multi-Fuel Stove in Midnight

Take advice on this as there are strict rules about the distance between the stove and any combustible material. There is no legal minimum distance for non-combustibles such as brickwork or masonry, but Arada suggests no less than 10cm either side and 2.5cm at the back in order for it to work effectively. The more space you have the better it will work.

There is also a rule about a hearth being higher than the floor around it but that distance is only supposed to be 1mm. A responsible installer will not be able to sign off if that millimetre isn’t there.

Farringdom Catalyst A2 Grey

Arada Farringdon Catalyst Eco Wood Burning Stove in Slate

CAN I INSTALL IT MYSELF?

Given the amount of regulations I think it would be unwise. You need to have the installation signed off and certified. It needs to be tested  and you must have a carbon monoxide alarm in the room and there are rules about how close it should be to the stove. You must also install  a vent as well. It’s safer, and easier, to go with a HETAS registered engineer.

WHAT SIZE DO I NEED?

Your engineer should be able to help you with this but if you want a rough idea then it’s length x width x height/14 = the output in kilowatts. All measurements should be in metres and if there are lots of doors and windows then it should be slightly higher.

Arada Farringdon Blue A2

Arada Farringdon Ecodesign Ready Multi-Fuel Stove with Log Store in Atlantic

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SWEEP THE CHIMNEY?

Once a year unless it is the main source of heating in the home in which case it would be better to do it twice.

Hopefully that has cleared up any questions. Now the next trick is how to light the thing. Because there’s a bit of a knack to it and I shall be writing about that in my next post as well as the design of our fireplace.

Arada stove with a rear-fitting flue

Arada Hardy 4 Multi-Fuel Stove in Midnight

 

 

The stove was given to me by Arada. They didn’t dicate or ask for any particular content around it but I decided this would be the most useful information to share with you. I never give copy approval but they checked this for details to make sure I wasn’t giving you the wrong information. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 Comments

  • Reply Denise 18th September 2018 at 11:58 pm

    I sooo wanted one, then I read this post on a blog which I read regularly. Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and modern philosopher, but the information which he puts forward here is horrifying about open fires and wood burners.

    I looked into it further and he’s right in what he reports. I don’t see how anyone justifies installing one now.

    https://samharris.org/the-fireplace-delusion/

  • Reply Sorrel 14th September 2018 at 12:16 pm

    We’re having one installed next week – can’t wait! Though any pointers on where I might find a stylish fire guard to help with child proofing would be appreciated!

  • Reply Darina 13th September 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Another thing to remember when getting a stove is to buy a heat powered stove fan to circulate the heat otherwise you just lose so much. We bought a voda one but there are lots of brands out there.

  • Reply Kevin Dempsey 13th September 2018 at 7:48 am

    You don’t need a vent through the wall if the heat output is 5Kw or under.
    Best to get a HETAS registered installer for the job because that’s their business.
    I go out foraging on local farm lands with my chainsaw for dead trees, bring them back to the shed and splice the logs on a log cutter.
    When it gets really cold, I burn smokeless coal (£7.50 for a 25kg bag from a coal merchant – don’t be a fool buying from petrol stations).
    Heating this flat costs virtually nothing.

  • Reply Rachel Hayward-Price 11th September 2018 at 11:39 pm

    Clearview are fantastic because as the name suggests, the glass remains completely clear.

  • Reply Jennifer Pascoe 11th September 2018 at 11:23 pm

    There is a neat chimney cube designed in Christchurch NZ. I t was in response with their difficulties with smoke being trapped by low cloud cover. It makes the fire light very quickly and burn effectively putting out less particulate matter. We have own fitted and it is effective. There is now a UK supplier in Kent.

  • Reply Nancy Bulpitt 11th September 2018 at 10:50 pm

    We’ve always had a woodburner, but last December decided to upgrade our old woodburner ,had to have a new liner out up our chimney…..having real problems now ! Cant stop smoke billowing back into the room , no one , including the installer can fathom out what’s wrong …..feeling very frustrated. New fire ,new chimney liner .. can’t use it!…had expert chimney sweep , woodburner two, installer back ….where do we go from here?

    • Reply Kate Watson-Smyth 12th September 2018 at 8:18 am

      Oh my goodness. I know there is definitely a trick to lighting them and I was going to deal with that in my next post. I will put this to Arada and see if they have any suggestions.

    • Reply Nicholas Taylor 12th September 2018 at 9:56 am

      You could try having fitted a rotating cowl by a professional on the chimney. As the wind blows the cowl rotates and causes a suction which lifts smoke. Had one at last house and worked for me. The new place seems to be ok at the moment.
      Nick

    • Reply Tanya Hamilton 15th September 2018 at 9:50 am

      A friend has this issue and has found that burning a tea light in the woodburner for 10 minutes or so before using it solves the problem. Quirky I know!

  • Reply Isabelle 11th September 2018 at 8:52 pm

    You will never regret it. If you can’t use logs go for them ecologs, each one lasts an hour; beautifully dryness and guaranteed burn. We own a holiday let bungalow with Art Deco open fire and use those there. At home, Husband likes chopping wood, so we use them as fire starters or boosters in really cold weather. In fact you will be back down from your office Erie when it gets cold!

  • Reply Janet Whincup 11th September 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Sorry off topic, (we don’t even have a fire in our house.)

    Can you recommend a link to finding some wall art for a bedroom?

    Thanks

  • Reply Barry 11th September 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Nice stoves I fit about 100 a year .house is not a home with out one
    I fit hamlet stove good value for money .
    Fitting 2 this week in the Yorkshire area
    Done 40 this year already
    I am HETAS Registered
    07530917521 Call even if you want some advise or a sweep

  • Reply Vritika + Independent Villas 11th September 2018 at 12:51 pm

    I was confused about whether to install one or not. But, now I am very clear and will buy one immediately. Thank you for having my all inner doubts cleared with this informative article 🙂

  • Reply Emily Fitz-Harris 11th September 2018 at 11:36 am

    This is really helpful, we recently moved into a home with one already fitted. I am definitely going to get it all checked out and swept before we use it this winter! I wonder if there are any paints available that you could paint them wtih? After seeing these lovely coloured ones I am tempted…

  • Reply Sally Blackwell 11th September 2018 at 10:28 am

    I just wanted to correct one thing in your piece, Kate. The flue doesn’t have to go up the exterior of your house. It can – appropriately insulated and at the appropriated distance from other stuff – go up inside. We’re having one fitted in the middle of the living room and it will go up through the room and one of the bedrooms. There are lots of regulations again about this, but it is possible. And fab! Thanks

  • Reply Our French Oasis 11th September 2018 at 8:45 am

    We installed a woodburner in our kitchen and have never looked back. It is fabulous being permanently warm and everyone loves coming into our kitchen and if someone needs an item of clothing dried quickly it is far more efficient than the tumble dryer! We use heat logs for numerous reasons, they are brilliant.

  • Reply Hilary 11th September 2018 at 7:31 am

    We have recently installed a two sided wood-burner
    between our lounge and hall which is awesome
    as it heats two rooms for the price of one!
    I’ve just ordered a second one for our dining
    room and can’t wait for that to be installed.
    We also opened up the fire in the new utility
    room (basically as it needed it for ventilation) and
    having an open fire in there is fabulous and rather
    decadent!
    Cheap fuel and marvellous heating – can’t
    beat it!

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