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There are so many options when it comes to picking the perfect fireplace or fire for your home - so much so that the choice can seem bewildering. Here we consider what factors you need to bear in mind when creating the right look and ambiance in your living space.

While many of us are driven by aesthetic considerations when shopping for a fire, there is no reason you can’t combine pure good looks with excellent usability and efficiency - provided you are prepared to do a modicum of research.

If you have central heating in your property, you are likely to be looking for a secondary heat source that can be utilised for a swift dash of extra warmth during the colder months or a fire that will work well in tandem with underfloor heating, for example.

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want an open fire or a fire with a glass frontage. While open fires undoubtedly inject a real sense of cosiness into any room, they are not as fuel efficient as glass fronted fires

A wood burner will provide an impressive flame coupled with a high level of heat efficiency; alternatively, if you are looking for the atmosphere that a flame adds to an environment but do not want the hassle involved with burning wood or other fuels, a gas fire could be a great fit for you. There are lots of models that offer highly-realistic coal or log fuel beds and the benefit of being able to control the flame and heat to your exact specifications, often via remote control.

Designs can fall anywhere between the starkly contemporary and the very traditional; in addition, they can be built in or freestanding, depending on your needs.

One obvious plus point of wood burning and gas fires or stoves is that they do not need mains electricity to work. This means that should you experience a power cut, you will still be able to keep at least one room in your home nice and warm.

If you are working on a large-scale home renovation or new-build project, you should try to make your decision about heating as soon as possible. Certain options may require a chimney or even an inglenook; therefore, settling on a heating scheme early on will leave you with the widest range of options from which to choose.

Posted By Paul Smith

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 - if messy - 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

The hearth is the solid piece of raised floor just in front of the chimney. It is often made from concrete. Check this to ensure it is sound.

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 draught by placing a lit candle just in front of it. It is essential that flames and smoke are drawn efficiently up the chimney. If this is not the case, your chimney may have been deliberately capped, 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. 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.

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 flue.

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 that a chimney needs 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.

New flue

Since there is a fair bit of additional work and cost required when lining a chimney and carrying out safety checks, you might find it more economical to site your stove elsewhere. In this way, you can easily route a new flue through an outside wall.

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

A wood-burning stove is a great addition to any room, adding a touch of luxury and cosiness in addition to being practical and energy efficient.

Over time, you will probably notice that your stove is getting quite dirty and the surface may become marked or rusty. Inside, ash build-up may cause the glass door to appear sooty and the seal may become less effective.

Luckily, it is a quick and simple matter to set your stove to rights, leaving it looking as good as new. Here’s how:

Remove tar/soot

Before carrying out any maintenance on your stove, always ensure it is perfectly cool. If tar and/or soot deposits have come through onto the plaster, clean these off with a brush or damp cloth and apply a coat or two of stain block. Once this is dry, you can finish with your paint colour of choice.

Rust issues

Rub away any small patches of rust with some wire wool and vacuum up the resulting debris. You can then repaint if required.

Respray

If you want to respray your stove, ensure that you mask the handles and door using sheets of newspaper held in place with tape. Cover the surrounding area and ensure the room is well ventilated. Using stove spray paint, apply several coats until you achieve the desired effect.

Window cleaning

To clean the stove window, you can use a specific stove glass cleaner; alternatively, a dampened ball of newspaper dipped in ash and rubbed gently onto the window will bring it to a brilliant shine.

Check the seal

You should periodically check the rope seal on your stove. This will tend to lose its shape over time, allowing fumes to escape.

Stove health

To ensure your stove is working well, and more importantly safely, make a point of regularly cleaning out the firebox and emptying the ash pan. Ensure that the firebricks are sound. During the warmer months, leave the stove with the door ajar and the air inlets set to open to allow it to air properly. Summer is the perfect time to get your chimney swept in preparation for autumn’s chillier nights.

Hearth sealant

If you opt to seal your hearth, you will find it a lot easier to keep clean. First clean it thoroughly with hot water and floor cleaner, then rinse. Refrain from adding sealant for at least four days, as the surface needs to be completely dry for it to take properly; alternatively, you could treat it with a hearth-specific oil. Be sure to protect your carpets and soft furnishings before applying.

Posted By Paul Smith

You have made the decision to fit a wood burner or stove in your home, but now the questions start. Which type of stove will best suit my needs? What type of fuel do I want to use? How big should it be? Should I go traditional or contemporary in terms of design?

Fuel?

First things first - you will need to decide between a wood burning stove and a multi-fuel option. If you think that you will only want to burn wood, this decision is already made, although there are a few points you will need to consider before heading out to purchase your new stove. Be sure to establish whether you live in a smoke controlled zone; if you do, you will need to purchase a stove approved by DEFRA for this type of use. Alternatively, if you want to have the flexibility of burning other types of fuel, such as coal or peat, your best bet will obviously be a multi-fuel stove.

Size?

The size of your stove should reflect the size of the room in which it is to be installed. Stoves range from 4kW right up to 16Kw. Since stoves are an efficient heat source, it is important not to install one that is too big for its intended space; conversely, go too small and you won’t feel the benefit. If in doubt, ask your retailer for advice.

Aesthetics

Stoves are available in a wide range of styles and colour to suit all tastes. Whether you are looking for a cutting-edge design or an unashamedly traditional one, you are sure to find the perfect model. It is even possible to customise a stove, such as by adding a bespoke colour or finish, thereby ensuring your new heating source is unique to you.

Budget

As with any purchase, you tend to get what you pay for; however, it is possible to get a great model at the lower end of the price scale, particularly if you are looking for a smaller version.

Installation

It is generally a far better option to get your new stove professionally fitted by a HETAS qualified installer. The cost for this will relate to the size of the stove selected and how much remedial work needs to be done to your existing fireplace.

Posted By Paul Smith

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
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