Woodburner or open fire?

Sometimes people think that a fire is simple a fire and that installing a woodburner is an unnecessary expense. Some people think it is better to renovate the original fireplace rather than destroy a piece of history.

So, if you have a fireplace that is bricked up, or an old fireplace in need of some TLC. and you are trying to decide between fitting a wood-stove and an open-fire here are a few things to think about.

Open fire

  • Cheaper to renovate existing fireplace.
  • Not guaranteed that the fire will draw well when complete. May need a gathering hood fitting inside the chimney.
  • Soot attacks the brickwork, leading to extra maintenance or repair.
  • Very prone to differing weather conditions, often goes into reverse sending smoke inside the house.
  • Need to have fire baskets and fire back repaired or replaced eventually
  • In old houses with new double glazed windows there is left draught so open fire struggles to find enough oxygen to burn well.
  • Only 15% efficient so burns through fuel about 5 times as fast.
  • Difficult to burn at optimum temperature as no thermometer.
  • Most of heat generated is lost up the chimney.
  • More storage space needed for fuel and more deliveries.
  • Smoke is less clean than from a wood burner and causes air pollution.
  • Debris often falls back into room causing damage to floor, carpet or belongings. 
  • Fire risk! Can’t be left unattended or turned down!
  • New installations in houses without a fireplace will need a lined flue.
  • If used regularly will need sweeping at least one per year

Wood or multi-fuel stove

  • More expensive to install than to renovate an existing open fire.
  • Good draw produced by lining the chimney, which also protects the brickwork.
  • Firebrick liners inside stove will need repairing or replacing over time.
  • Designed to work with door closed so no smoke inside the house
  • Airflow can be adjusted so that you can burn high or low.
  • Around 70 – 90% efficient so burns through less fuel.
  • Less storage space needed for fuel and fewer deliveries.
  • Low emissions causing far less pollution than open fires.
  • Needs sweeping at the end of every burning season and more often if you only burn wood.
  • Multi-fuel models can burn both wood and coal.

Open fires have been around since cavemen time. Log burners have been designed over time because of the need to improve on the original.

Open fire place with fire basket

Above is a photo of the old open fire in Molly Malones Public House, Hitchin. Below is the Oregan 8kW multi-fuel stove that replaced it after refurb. Which do you prefer?

The good news is that whichever way you decide to go, we can help you with your project. If you would like to arrange a free survey to see how much your install or renovation will cost; drop us an email to office@chimneysweep.info or call 01462 671555