What Should You Consider Before Buying A Log Burner
Ubiquitous with a cosy setting, a crackling well-lit wood burner is the perfect place to curl up in front of during the winter. Providing plenty of ambience in the home, it is the ideal accompaniment to living areas, snugs and libraries. Despite their associations with chilly winter evenings, log burners are also ideal in the summer months too. It is no secret that the British climate can bring us both rain and shine throughout the year, with temperatures dipping in the evenings. So, even in the height of summer, you could be hit with a rainy day, meaning that log burners are great for heating up specific areas of the home.
What’s more, alongside their cosy connotations, they are also incredibly practical too as they can help reduce your family’s carbon footprint and minimise energy bills. To find out more about log burners and also to read our buying checklist, simply take a look below.
A Brief History of Wood Burners
Throughout history, there has been some sort of primordial attraction to a wood fire that we can’t seem to escape as it symbolises both a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Since ancient times, heat has been one of the main elements to foster human civilisations. This evolved into large fireplaces and cauldrons to cook food, before the creation of the oven. Plus, they were key for keeping houses warm before the invention of central heating and insulation.
However, the first instance of a wood burner was invented during the 18th century due to a wood shortage, meaning that people were looking for inventions that optimised wood usage whilst maximally heating the home. As these designs sophisticated, wood stoves became a common occurrence during the 19th and 20th centuries, culminating in designs that we commonly see today. These designs, though waned in the early 20th century, came back into fashion in the 1970’s and are a rustic sight in homes across the country. Infact, it has been estimated that on average, 175,000 homes have log burners installed each year in the UK. Crafted from cast iron or steel, these features are often a relic of the past and a complement to the modern home.
We could go on and on about how log burners are a great addition to a home primarily because of their homely appearance. What’s more, they are a great focal feature for a living area and provides many benefits in comparison to fireplaces. We further explore these below.
As mentioned numerous times, wood burning stoves are both an aesthetic and practical addition to the home. After all, as with any home renovation, you will want it to look chic. With options ranging from traditional cast iron, to Victorian curls and modern industrial clean-lined stoves – there is something for all tastes.
In comparison to fireplaces, log stoves are much safer for families with young children and pets. This is because there is simply not an open fire which can lead to accidents. Log stoves are opened manually with a stiff handle, so they would be far too difficult for young children to open and impossible for pets.
Also, in comparison to fireplaces, wood burners are far more energy-efficient and eco-friendly. This is because, as recent as this year, the Government has cracked down on stoves that don’t meet environmental standards as part of the wider Clean Air Strategy. Stoves that aren’t considered ‘green’ will be banned from being sold. Plus, stoves currently available on the market release 90% fewer emissions than open fires and newly designed stoves are 80% more efficient than those that were 60% in 2008. It is no secret that individual and government action surrounding the environment needs to increase, and if you are opting for eco-friendly ways to heat the home, then a wood-burning stove could be the perfect option.
Now that we hopefully have convinced you to invest in a log burner. There are a few considerations that you need to take into account before you splash the cash. For instance, spatial limitations, building regulations, design features are all important factors that need to be considered before purchase.
Log burners work by using by simply burning logs to create a persistent burning ember. It is important than when buying fuel, you need to check if your home is in a smoke controlled area, like in an urban city as this can affect not only the type of stove you buy, but also the type of fuel. For instance, for logs to be safe to burn, they must have a moisture content that is less than 25% as wet wood can create plenty of smoke and a chimney fire.
The most polluting forms of fuel are coal, plywood, and MDF – simply put, only burn wood if you know it’s original source as many forms of food are chemically treated. So think about this before you chuck in old furniture you no longer need.
What’s more, the type of wood that you get for your stove will also depend on storage. For instance, if you buy unseasoned logs, which are cheaper, they require at least a year to properly dry out. This also means that you need adequate space to store these where they won’t get wet. A compromise of this is buying kiln dried logs which are ready to be put on the fire. However, these are costlier than their unseasoned counterparts.
If you have a wood source, make sure to check how much moisture the wood has. This can be easily done just through the feel of the wood, as dry wood is lighter and has radial splits.
Similarly to having enough space to store wood – you need to consider whether you have the space in your home for a wood-burning stove. Luckily, wood-burning stoves can be fitted into any chimney alcove. However, there are a range of building regulations that you need to consider, which aptly leads us on to…
Any form of work that concerns chimney alcoves, like fitting, altering and replacing fall under legal building regulations, however, they don’t generally require planning permission.
In order to make sure that you can have a wood-burning stove fitted, have the chimney inspected and swept beforehand. In the case of old chimneys and chimneys on party walls, wood-burning fireplaces may not be able to be fitted. This is because old chimneys have the potential for lethal gases to leak through the walls, and if they are constructed before 1965, they won’t have any flue lining. And, chimneys on party walls could have brick flues that are shared with your neighbour, which can cause smoke to leak into your neighbour’s property.
For stoves, current building regulations dictate that the minimum flue size must have a diameter that is no less than 125mm if the stove is below 20kW, and if the stove is between 20kW and 30kW, the diameter of the flue cannot be less than 150mm. What’s more, the flue outlet needs to be high enough above the roof surface and surrounding buildings so it is not affected by downdraughts.
It is also vitally important that the room in which you place the wood-burning stove in has enough ventilation. For many modern buildings, homes are airtight to help with energy efficiency, which although this means that rooms can heat up quickly, it also means their ventilation levels are lower. To meet this demand, wood-burning stove manufacturers will have a built-in total or partial air supply to provide adequate ventilation and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide. It is also a requirement that in any room that has a solid fuel combustion appliance, that a carbon monoxide alarm is fitted.
Though wood-burning stoves don’t need day to day maintenance, it is recommended that your stove undergoes annual maintenance and service which can be provided by your wood-burning stove supplier. This will include, stripping, inspecting and cleaning the appliance as well as needing to organise having your chimney swept. Ideally, have this done in spring after the heating season as this will perfectly prepare your stove for usage for when it gets cold.
Whether you want a cast iron or steel wood burner, it’s important to find a design that suits your aesthetic preference. Moreover, you need to consider whether you would like an electric wood burner rather than a manual wood burner. Electric wood burners have a realistic-looking burning log or coal effect and emit heat, but without the maintenance and cost of the flue as nothing is actually being burnt. Though for many homes these are ideal, they are not the traditional and rustic appliance of the original wood-burning stove.
No matter what style, size and design you go for – it is vital that you do plenty of research on not only wood-burning stoves, but also on your home’s structure. Don’t be afraid to contact plenty of professional companies to get both their honest opinions and quotes as these experts are trained in these matters.
Here at Greenfield Services, we pride ourselves on offering a comprehensive service in the field of both heating and electricity. This includes creating stunning fireplaces, homely wood-burning stoves and ceramic barbecues for homes in and around West Sussex.
Our wood-burning stoves will be an impressive focal feature in both period and contemporary homes. Crafted from the finest materials, we stock a range of the industry’s top brands, so you can be assured that you will receive the very best. To find out more, simply contact us today.