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If you have a blocked-up fireplace in your home, you may wish to open it up and install a gorgeous wood burning stove to really make the most of this lovely feature. This should be a fairly straightforward procedure; however, if in doubt, always seek advice from an expert.

Chimney breast

If your chimney has been correctly blocked up, you should be able to see a vent in the relevant wall Carefully remove this and examine the opening using a torch. This will give you a good idea of what you are working with.

Take the skirting board off

You will either need to remove the whole length of skirting or a neat section.

Check the hearth

There should be a constructional hearth that is flush with floor level and often made from concrete & a decorative hearth – This hearth must be at least 12mm thick and protrude a minimum of 225mm from the front of the stove. It must b sound and not be cracked in anyway

Board or brick?

If you hear a hollow sound when you tap the wall, you can be pretty certain your fireplace is covered with board. This should be fairly simple to prise off. On the other hand, if it has been filled in using bricks, these will need to be carefully knocked out. Go cautiously, starting from the bottom and working upwards from left to right

Brickwork

Bring the bricks right back to the border of the original fireplace opening and then make good any of the joints that require it, both at the side and back.

Ta-da!

Your fireplace is revealed! Now you can take a close look to see what sort of condition it is in. If the fireback is cracked, this can be repaired with specialist cement.

Draught

You will need to check your chimney’s draw by placing a smoke match just in front of the opening. It is essential that flames and smoke are drawn efficiently up the chimney. If this is not the case, your chimney may have been capped off, leaking or might be blocked. This will need to be actioned before you go any further.

Chimney and flue

Before putting in a new grate or fireback, you will need to get the chimney professionally swept, pressure tested & certified by a NACS (National Association of Chimney Sweeps) sweep. You must also ensure that your flue is in good working order.

Professional checks

Before you light a fire for the very first time, whether in a newly opened fireplace or a newly-installed one, always get a professional to check that it is safe and sound. A Hetas engineer will also issue a safety certificate & register the installation with Heats & Local Building control.

Remember – Safety is paramount with any gas or solid fuel installations

Posted By Paul Smith

If you are considering installing a wood burning or solid fuel stove - whether to save some cash or to be more environmentally friendly - it is likely that your main considerations thus far have been aesthetic; however, there are a number of crucial practical factors that come into play when putting in a stove, with the most important probably the location of the existing flue or chimney.

Positioning your stove

Before buying your dream stove, take some time to think about the best position for it. If you already have a chimney and fireplace, this is likely to be a decent site; however, this will not always be as straightforward as you may think. In a period property, the fireplace is likely to have been designed for a coal fire and is unlikely to conform to the current building regulation requirement and the chimney may need to be lined.

Existing fireplace?

If you are planning to place a wood burning stove in a vacant fireplace, you will also need to ensure that there is sufficient room around it for the circulation of air and that all smoke will be efficiently pulled from the room. It will also need to be sufficiently wide enough & ensure that anything combustible (ie a wood surround) is legally far enough away so that it does not create a fire hazard

Rules and regulations

There are several rules and regulations that you will need to navigate regarding the ventilation in the room, the flue size, and carbon monoxide detectors. It is often simpler all round to get the installation done from start to finished by a Hetas registered professional, as they will be used to ticking all the boxes when it comes to the practicalities and legalities. If you do not get the installation signed off by building control, you may find that you have hoops to jump through when it comes to selling your property; therefore, it is important get things done correctly right from the get-go.

Building Control

Building Control takes an interest in the fitting of wood/solid fuel stoves due to the plethora of rules pertaining to their safe installation. You could choose to do the work yourself, but remember that you will need to get the project inspected and signed off by a HETAS-approved engineer.

Posted By Paul Smith

If you are shopping around for a great new stove, there are a number of things to consider before you commit to the purchase. Taking some time to think through the purpose for which the stove is intended and your preferred fuel should help you to narrow down your search.

Whether you want a multi fuel burner - one that burns wood, coal, peat or smokeless fuels, a dedicated wood burning stove, or would rather opt for a convenient ‘switch on’ electric or gas stove, you will not be short of choice. The stove market is growing all the time and there are makes and models to suit all interior aesthetics and, of course, all budgets.

What role do you envision your new stove playing in your home? While some people may be looking for a small stove to heat a particular room, others may be looking for one to supply both central heating and hot water throughout a property or simply hoping to add an attractive focal point to their living space.

Whatever the motivation behind your decision to purchase a stove, you will certainly be spoilt for choice in terms of design, size, colour and fuel source.

A gas stove could be an ideal alternative for homeowners looking for the ultimate in convenience. There is a plethora of extremely realistic log or coal fires on the market today that offer efficient heat and the cosy atmosphere many would-be stove owners crave. For those looking for a portable heating solution, electric stoves are improving in design and looks every year and can be placed in practically any room in the home, providing a plug socket is near to hand.

Once you have identified the role you wish your new stove to play in your home, it is time to consider what sort of style would fit best with your home’s interior décor. Whether you reside in a period Victorian property or a contemporary apartment, there will certainly be a stove that is the perfect complement for your design scheme. It is now possible to purchase a stove in practically any colour you desire, or there is always the option to customise if your ideal colour is not available.

Putting in an open fire or stove is the perfect way to revitalise your home and add a real wow factor to your property without breaking the bank. In addition to the obvious aesthetic factor, there are a number of other persuasive reasons to proceed.

Ambiance

One obvious benefit of a working fireplace is the wonderful ambiance created by flickering flames, whether real or of the gas variety. Research demonstrates that house hunters are far more likely to be drawn to a property if it has a working fireplace. What better way to start the New Year than by killing two birds with one stone by adding a cosy focal point to your living space and potentially boosting the value of your property?

Lower bills

Add a fireplace to your home and you could see your heating bills reduce considerably, as you can save money on your bills if you use an open fire or stove to heat part of your property. Alternatively, you could think about installing an electric or gas model that does not need a chimney. If your main goal is to cut costs, shop around for an electric fire - these are extremely energy efficient and exceptionally easy to maintain.

Easy to use

Stoves and fireplaces of all varieties are simple to use. A wood or multi-fuel burner is easy to get the hang of, with minimal time and effort required to get a beautiful roaring fire going. Stock up on wood or coal, kindling and some firelighters, and you are good to go! Other varieties, including gas and electric fires, can be turned on with the flick of a switch and many come with remote controls that control flame height, power and temperature - you won’t even have to get up from the sofa!

Green

If you opt for a wood burner, you can rest easy in the knowledge that wood is categorised as a renewable resource. Carbon neutral and you can burn it without worrying that you are harming the environment. Electric fireplaces will emit no harmful greenhouse gases, meaning that they are entirely environmentally friendly; in addition, gas fires are very convenient and pretty eco-friendly.

Posted By Paul Smith

Buying a gas fire

20/06/2017 11:09

Picking out the best gas fire to suit your needs can seem like a daunting task; however, you can rest assured that there are models available for all tastes and budgets, even if you live in a modern home without a flue or chimney.

Whether you are looking for a highly-efficient gas fire or a contemporary wall-hung style, the following information should certainly aid you in your quest for an ideal fire that ticks all the boxes.

Inset fires

These ‘living flame’ fires simulate a proper coal fire, without the mess! A popular choice, these fires create a warm and cosy glow in any room. Although they are not the most efficient fires on the market, they are a great choice if you are looking for a model that combines aesthetics with warmth.

Glass-fronted fires

In recent years, the demand for fires of this type has gone through the roof. A glass-fronted fire is a highly-efficient option, requiring less gas & ultimately lower running costs than other varieties while producing a decent amount of heat. The science behind this is the fact that the glass frontage prevents fumes entering the room, meaning that the flue is more diminutive than on an open-fronted model. A glass-fronted fire offers an impressive net efficiency of up to 90 per cent.

Hole-in-the-wall fires

A hole-in-the-wall fire is a great way of fitting an attractive focal point fire in a room without the necessity of having a hearth to accommodate it. Great for smaller spaces, these fires are space-saving and are available in a plethora of different styles and sizes to suit all decors. Due to the required fitting depth and the emission level of these fires, they are most suited to properties with a real chimney already in situ.

Flueless gas fires

Flueless gas fires have been popular outside the UK for quite some time and their popularity here continues to grow exponentially. This design can be easily fitted in properties without a chimney, offering the potential to enjoy the delights of a true gas flame in any room of the home. They can even be fitted on an external wall if required. While you may wonder about the safety of this gas fire design, rest assured that fires of this type are fitted with a variety of state-of-the-art safety devices, thus ensuring that the fire will immediately cut out in the unlikely event that fumes enter the room for any reason

Posted By Paul Smith

On a chilly winter’s night, there is almost nothing as comforting as gathering round an open fire or stove with friends or family.

Our fondness for the focal point an open fire or stove offers is reflected in the fact that most new-builds come with one or more fireplaces.

Fireplaces have numerous benefits. They offer an obvious gathering point for the family to settle down for the evening, they provide both light and heat, and they look stunning.

Selecting the right design for your style and lifestyle will ensure that your fireplace makes a strong design statement. There is a bewildering array of different designs on the market; however, whatever your aesthetic tastes, you are sure to find a fireplace that will tick every box in your overall design scheme.

There are a number of factors to consider before you start to shop around for your dream fireplace. Will the fire be the room’s main heat source or more for decorative purposes? Do you want a low maintenance option or are you happy to deal with the cleaning and prepping that an open fire or stove requires? Answering these questions should help you to decide whether you want to opt for a gas/electric appliance or an open fire/stove.

Gas fires are a popular option, not least because they are affordable and are easier to install, as they do not require a chimney. They are also very low maintenance, offering a wonderfully radiant heat and a realistic flame without the upkeep that an open fire burning wood or coal inevitably requires; in addition, gas fires are available in a huge variety of styles and shapes.

If you opt for an electric fire, you can put it anywhere you choose within your home, with the caveat that it is near enough to a power source. Fires of this type tend to be on the small side, meaning that they are an ideal choice when space is at a premium

If you have your heart set on an open fire or stove, you will need to consider the construction of your existing fireplace. Brick fireplaces are ideal, as smoke does not discolour them. Stone is extremely hard wearing, as are slate and marble. Many original Victorian fireplaces are finished with colourful ceramic tiles, which provide a beautiful frame to a glowing, flickering fire.

Posted By Paul Smith

The air feels distinctly crisper and the nights are drawing in. While we may bemoan the passing of the long summer evenings, the good news is that it is almost time to up the cosiness factor in our homes by building a roaring fire. While it is understandable that fireplace maintenance may not have been top of your list of priorities over the summer, now is the optimal time to come clean and get set for the colder months. Keeping your fireplace clean and well maintained will keep your hearth a happy and safe place for your family and friends to gather round on a chilly night.

Maintenance

You should get your chimney swept once every two years, or every year if you light fires frequently. A registered sweep will be able to examine the flue for soundness, give the chimney itself a good clean and generally give your fireplace a thorough pre-winter health check.

Cleaner air

If you are looking to cut down on the level of air pollution, consider using composition logs. These produce around 50% less smoke than regular logs; however, if you are a fire purist who can’t countenance the idea of a fire without the delicious scent of burning wood, ensure you have set the fire up to burn as efficiently as possible. There is a universal truth: not all wood is created equal. It is definitely worth paying that little extra for seasoned wood.

Wood storage

If you have to store your wood outside, it is really important to protect it from the elements. Try to ensure that it is on raised storage, ideally at least half a metre off the ground. The top should be covered to stop the wood being spoiled by dew and rain, although it is best to leave the sides open for ventilation.

Dryness test

The best way to check that any wood you are considering buying is nice and dry is to invest in a moisture meter. These cost less than a few pounds but can indicate the amount of moisture in your logs. An ideal range is below 20% moisture content, the lower the better. Many logs that are bought at Petrol Stations or DIY outlets contain way over 30% + moisture. This results in lower heat output & large build ups of tar deposits & sulphuric acid due to condensation, within the flue system. It is false economy to buy ‘cheap’ wood

Burn clean

To keep your fires clean, you need to burn clean. Avoid any plastics, treated or painted wood, wood with high moisture content or rubber - these can all cause nasty fumes that your lungs won’t

thank you for. Burning only good quality, seasoned, wood and coal - smoke-free if you live in a restricted area - is the best way to create a delightfully toasty and welcoming atmosphere without any harmful emissions or excess smoke.

Posted By Paul Smith

Whether you have recently invested in a new open fire or perhaps a log or multi-fuel stove, one of the first things you will be dying to do is get a successful fire going.

To the uninitiated, building that first fire can seem like quite a challenge; however, by following a few well-tested tips, you will soon be enjoying the comfort and cosy atmosphere that only a real fire creates.

The first thing to do is gather together all the supplies required to get your fire started. Grab an old newspaper, some firelighters (although true pros tend to look down their noses at these!), kindling and your choice of fuel - wood or coal, or you can use both - and a box of matches.

Like any task done with care, the key to building a successful fire is in the detail. Take five to ten sheets of the newspaper - if your fireplace or stove is on the large side, you may need more - and roll each sheet into a thin strip, which you should then tie in a nice tight knot. This is a very efficient way to create lots of lovely heat right in the centre of the fire. Cluster all your knotted newspaper together and add a few firelighters at intervals. Kindling goes on next, although less is more in this instance - you just need sufficient to help your main fuel to catch well.

If you want to set your fire up to burn well over several hours, adding a few lumps of coal at this stage is advisable; however, ensure that you leave enough space for the air to circulate, as this gets the oxygen where it needs to be to create a truly roaring fire.

Light the newspaper in multiple places, and also the firelighters if you are using them. This should be enough to get the fire going well, although many aficionados also opt to blow heartily on the emerging flames at this point. If you do this, be careful - don’t get close enough to singe your hair or eyebrows!

Having laid good foundations, your fire should catch easily but, of course, this is not the end of the story. You will need to build up the fire with a couple of strategically placed logs, once again paying close attention to the need for efficient air flow. You can also top up with coal if you so desire.

Once the fire is burning merrily, make sure that you keep an eye on it, adding further logs and/or coal as and when required.

Posted By Paul Smith

Range cooking

25/04/2017 10:55

A range cooker is one of the first things that springs to mind when many of us picture our ideal kitchen. If you are hoping to create a real ‘heart of the home’ kitchen in your property, read on for some key points to bear in mind when shopping for the range of your dreams.

Although we may equate a range cooker with a traditional country kitchen set-up, they now incorporate all manner of cutting edge technology, making them suitable for even the most fervent foodie.

Available space should be your first consideration. Range cookers are larger than a standard stove; however, this space can be well worth setting aside when you consider that you could get up to eight burners - a real plus point if hob cooking is your thing.

An expansive cooking space is a real treat - but only if you are going to get the most out of it. A range cooker is a real investment. Bearing this in mind, consider (realistically!) how much you will use your range. If you have a large family or entertain on a regular basis, a range will kill two birds with one stone by offering all the space you could ask for in terms of catering for the hordes and creating a wonderful centrepiece in your kitchen.

Style is a very important factor when shopping around for a range cooker and is a very large part of their appeal. Whether you are looking to create the cosy ambiance that a traditional Aga brings or are looking for something more contemporary and cutting edge, you will be spoilt for choice. Remember that you should be able to take your range with you if you decide to move, so bear this fact in mind when you are shopping around.

Many electric ranges incorporate a fan designed to distribute the heat equally. In a gas model, the top shelf will generally be the hottest and the temperate will decrease as you go down. This sort of ‘zoned’ heat is well suited to cooking whole meals, where each individual dish needs to be cooked at a different temperature.

If you choose a gas range, you will need to find a registered gas safe engineer to install it. Duel fuel ranges - a gas hob combined with an electric oven - are also very popular, or you could consider one of the newer models that come complete with an induction hob.

Posted By Paul Smith

Current fireplace trends

18/04/2017 12:53

Many people opt to heat their main living space with an open fire. While radiators may be functional and underfloor heating convenient, they can’t really be described as ‘welcoming’.

There is something so attractive about the idea of huddling around an open fire or stove that beats even the highest tech heating solutions hands down. As winter approaches, now might be a good time to open up an existing fireplace in your home or even think about installing one from scratch.

While many owners of period properties have already reinstated their fireplaces, there is a real trend among those in smarter postcodes to remove the chimney breasts from either end of a knocked-through reception space and put in one large fireplace in the middle, thereby creating a real wow factor.

That being said, shape or size is largely irrelevant when it comes to fireplaces - what is priceless is the atmosphere that a crackling open fire or stove creates. The fashion for minimalist ‘hole in the wall’ fires with artificial logs or pebbles has died a death; today, most homeowners are looking for authenticity, which means a fire that makes an architectural statement. The best way to judge whether your fireplace or stove has hit the right note is by asking yourself whether it is an attractive feature in a room even when it is not lit.
 
Current trends lean towards clean lines with strong accents. To achieve this, you will need to think outside the box. If you live in a Victorian terrace, there is no longer an unwritten rule that says your fire surround must match this historical period; instead, why not mix things up a little by putting in a Georgian or Regency piece that will really make a statement?

As far as in-vogue materials are concerned, many home stylists are advocating limestone or marble, both of which are a lot more affordable than they were even five years ago. Wood, particularly pine finishes, look dated compared with the super-sleek effect of ; in addition, wood does not wear as well.

Some us may have the urge to source an antique fireplace surround by trailing through reclamation yards. While it is true that you may find a bargain in this way, in most cases you won’t be privy to the full provenance and this may not be the best way to proceed in terms of safety. Buying new from a reputable dealer is the best option in most cases.

Posted By Paul Smith

Electric Fantastic

07/04/2017 11:55

While it is true that electric fires were once inefficient to run, expensive and frankly rather unattractive, things have now changed - and quite dramatically at that.

Evolution

Electric fires have evolved so much over the last few years as to be practically unrecognisable, and this is true in terms of design, in terms of cost and in terms of efficiency. If you are thinking of going electric, there are a number of factors you will need to consider before making your purchase:

Ease of use

Many homeowners agree that a working fireplace adds an air of welcoming warmth to a room that simply cannot be replicated. Today, this fire does not have to be of the open, stove or gas variety to create the desired ambience; instead, a well-chosen electric fire ticks all the same aesthetic boxes. As a bonus, it is likely to come in well under budget.

Design variety

There is a plethora of electric fires available. Whether you want a freestanding style or a package that includes a mantel, you will have plenty of models from which to choose. Many design aficionados opt for a wall-mounted design, which is a flexible style that can be moved from location to location with ease and won’t impinge on your floor space. They attach to the wall with a bracket similar to that used to mount a television - a job most people with a modicum of DIY ability should be able to carry out with ease.

Focal point

Most people opt to place their fire in a location in the room in which it will create a focal point. This is particularly true if the fire is intended for the main living space in a home. You will also need to think about how powerful you need your new fire to be. This will depend on whether it will be the sole heat source and whether you intend to use it all the time, on an occasional basis, or for a more decorative purpose.

Installation

When it comes to installation, you should find that your new fire is supplied with a comprehensive set of installation instructions and all the fittings and fixtures you will need. Fitting an electric fire is generally very straightforward and is often simply a case of plugging the unit into a power supply and switching it on, although you may decide to extend and/or cover the power lead, depending on where it is sited.

Posted By Paul Smith
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