All posts by HeatherSummers

Is smokeless fuel ok to burn?

Smokeless fuels used to be recommended only for people living in Smoke Exempt Areas. This was because pure anthracite coal is very clean burning and produces little smoke. Unfortunately it’s a finite resource and is rapidly running out and so increases in price every year. Coal producers found a solution to this by mixing it with other products to make it cheaper whilst still producing less smoke. For this reason we have always recommended avoiding smokeless coal where possible. However now that the government has banned the sale of regular house coal, you may be finding it difficult to buy anything other than smokeless coal to burn in your multifuel stove. If you feel you must buy it then opt for pure anthracite and not the manufactured coal, as this is much much cleaner burning.

Note that although your stove is designed to burn coal and wood, your liner may not be up to the acidic gases that smokeless coal produces and thus you may find your liner degrading more quickly than expected. Check that your liner is 316/904 or 904/904 before purchasing smokeless coal as it is a better grade of steel and will last longer in the acidic environment of your flue. If your liner is 316/316 then opt for burning seasoned wood only when your supply of house coal ends.

To help prolong the life of your liner you should get your chimney swept every year, at least once and more often if you burn wood on a daily basis throughout the year. It’s very important to get it swept when you have finished using it for the year, around Springtime or the start of Summer. This is when the sulphuric acid and nitric acid are left to sit in your liner for the summer period, and these are perfect conditions for corrosion.

It can be difficult to remember to have your chimney swept in the warmer months, so maybe set a reminder in your calendar now and protect your installation as best as you can.

To book a chimney sweep now visit www.chimneysweep.info/diary

To buy wood/ logs in our area try the following suppliers

Phillip Allen (Tree Surgeon in Arlesey) Call 01462 834411 to arrange for a delivery of logs to your house.

Mr Goddard in Pirton. Call 01462 712692 for logs and kindling delivered to your door.

Can I get it cheaper?

We sometimes get asked this question and there will always be another company who can do it cheaper than us. We take pride in our work and our existing customers will vouch for that. They are the ones that have recommended us to friends and family so we must be doing something right!

What we ask our customers to think about is how long the cheaper parts that they are purchasing will last. Yes, you may be able to save money now and not have to wait any longer for your lovely wood burning stove but if your liner degrades faster because it has not been tested at realistic temperatures, then you could find that you are having to replace it within 3 to 5 years.

You could save money on the cowling and buy mild steel instead of stainless, but again, once open to the elements and soot, this kind of steel will soon need replacing. The cowl is usually how the liner is held securely in place, so once the cowl deteriorates the fixings could release the liner so that it drops and gets damaged along the way. A damaged cowl could allow birds and vermin to nest in your flue (they like it warm) and this could pose a serious health risk if the fumes can’t escape properly.

That’s why we use HETAS approved flexible liner and associated parts which come with a life expectancy of around 20 – 35 years. We also won’t recommend 316/316 liner if we think you are likely to burn smokeless fuel. With the banning of regular house coal in May 2021 customers will be forced to burn smokeless coal on their multifuel stoves, much of which contains acidic particles ( that create acid rain ) that can eat through a 316/316 liner in a matter of years.

You could save money by excavating the opening yourself and ordering and fitting the hearth before we come. When doing this remember to arrange for your free survey when your work is complete, otherwise we will need to revisit to check what you have done. If the opening is not large enough or is unsafe, we will then have to delay your installation possibly by weeks, as our calendar will only have allowed for the one visit, and more may be needed to correct the work, which will certainly incur more labour costs.
The same goes for the hearth. If it is not the correct size, thickness or material as required by building regulations, we will not be able to continue until a new hearth is fitted and we will still have to charge for the wasted day.

Also, think about whether you want to use a company that is not registered with HETAS. If you do this you will have to liaise with building control to obtain planning permission beforehand and to have the installation checked when complete. You will be using people who have not been through the HETAS training and inspection process and have no guarantee that they will leave you with a safe installation. They also may not be around in a few months time to correct any teething troubles you may have or faults with the parts of appliance. The same is true of any installation company so choosing a firm registered at Companies House who are VAT registered with a minimum of £2 million in public liability insurance, and who have over 20 years experience, has got to put your mind at ease.

Toes warming by a woodburner

Offering reliable workmanship, quality products, excellent advice and solid experience at a fair price. We acknowledge that we are not the cheapest but we aim to still be around in 10 years time, along with the products we recommend and trust.

GTD Installations Mission Statement

Do I need a Carbon Dioxide Alarm?

The answer to this is easy; NO. If there was such a thing it would be going off all the time! If you are referring to a Carbon Monoxide Alarm (CO) then YES burning fuel inside your home can give off this deadly gas and for a small squeeze on your wallet, you could save your life.

If you have a woodburner or multi-fuel stove it is a legal requirement and your chimney sweep may condemn your installation without one. Consequently all our quotes include a FireAngel CO9D. Visit our shop to purchase one.

If you have an open fire; it is not yet a legal requirement but is advisable.

Positioning is also important. Some customers ask for us to fix the alarm in a place out of site, but unfortunately for these people, there are strict guidelines as to where the equipment should be. Please see the diagram below if you are unsure if your alarm is installed properly.

What can I burn?

You’ve invested in a lovely new multi-fuel stove and you are wondering now what fuels to use. Multi-fuel stoves, unlike woodburners, have a grate that allows air to flow under the fuel allowing you to burn coal as well as wood.

Your flexible liner will have been designed to withstand the heat and to hold the soot caused by burning these fuels, providing you burn seasoned wood only, and get your chimney swept regularly. This may mean every 3 months if you use your appliance a lot! If you are wanting to burn smokeless coal you should check the thickness of the liner that you have had installed. You will find this information on your data plate and reciept form the installer. Smokeless fuel is more acidic and is quick to corrode the steel liner, so if you have a 316/316 liner installed, keep away from smokeless! Also keep an eye on your stove thermometer so that you keep out of the ‘soot zone’ by burning cleanly above 300 degrees.

Make sure that when you burn wood that you don’t burn items straight from the garden. It takes around 2 years for the water content to fall to levels that are acceptable for burning. This drying process is called ‘seasoning’.

Burning unseasoned wood is one of the reasons woodburners are getting bad press at the moment, because of the air pollution it causes. The Government has started up a certification scheme for wood and log suppliers so that the sale of unseasoned wood can be brought to an end. Look for the ‘WoodSure’ Logo when finding a supplier.

Burning unseasoned wood and / or household items that are no longer needed such as packaging, furniture, clothing is all damaging for both the environment and your appliance. It will cause creosote and sticky tar to form in the stove and also the liner. When it dries it is solid and incredibly difficult and costly to remove. In the image below it is so thick that it has blocked the flue and severely reduced the airflow, making the stove impossible to use.

It’s also very flammable, and can cause your chimney to set on fire. All in all, it’s best to keep rubbish in the bin and seasoned wood and coal in your beautiful woodburner.

Creosote blocking chimney flue
Creosote formed by burning ‘green’ wood

Will I need to get my chimney swept?

Unlike other companies we will sweep your chimney on installation day so you won’t need to ring around to find a chimney sweep with an available appointment at the last minute.

We will also quote you for geniune parts made from stainless steel and not mild steel that only lasts half as long. We will advise you as to the best fuels to use and how to get the most from your burner.

We also will book clear dates into our diary when we will arrive. Unlike other companies who will take your deposit and then tell you installation will take place in the next three weeks, and may not be able to arrive on a convenient day for you and make you wait longer.

It’s hard to tell how long an installation is going to take. It’s not always straight forward, especially when it’s raining, snowy or icy. Unlike some companies we won’t charge you extra labour if we have to return to complete the work quoted for.

Many people appreciate the way that we work, all of the testimonials on our website and all of our reviews on yell.com are genuine.

I don’t have a cowl

Cowls are very useful items that fix to the chimney pot and either stop rain or vermin or both from entering your chimney. If you have a wood burning or solid fuel stove installed and you don’t have a cowl protecting your flue from water damage and bird / squirrel nesting you could be putting your home at risk.

It is not actually a legal requirement yet, but it seems obvious that a barrier between the natural world and your expensive wood-burner installation is needed. The delay in making it part of building regulations seems to be because users of wood-burning stoves forget to get their chimneys cleaned regularly and in the past have burnt unseasoned wood and household rubbish. This causes tar and creosote to form in the chimney flue which just like the bird or squirrel nest can cause a chimney fire or block the chimney causing carbon monoxide to silently fill the house.

At GTD Installations Ltd we like to make sure that our customers have a cowl with mesh attached and remind them them yearly that they should arrange a chimney sweep and have the stove checked over.
To book your chimney sweep online visit: chimneysweep.info/diary

chimney cowling with mesh to stop vermin and rain entering the chimney

Fire not burning hot enough [Twin- Wall System]

If you have a rigid pipe system connected to your stove and it was installed before 2010 there is a good chance that the pipe exiting the roof is not long enough. This stops your stove from receiving the optimum amount of air to make it burn efficiently. Before you blame the stove and waste money on a new one, you may want to try extending the length of pipe above the roof. In order to do this though we will need to know the exact make and model of the twin wall rigid pipe system as they are not interchangable.

Give us a call on 01462 431910 to arrange a free survey or send us a message from our website : http://woodburnerinstall.uk/contact-hetas-installer/

Stove Output Calculator

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