Everything you want to know about:
This really depends. The most influential factor is the size of your firebox in cubic feet. Larger fireboxes can burn more fuel, therefore heating a larger space more effectively. Other important factors are the kind of wood you burn and how well insulated your home is. This includes the quality of your doors and windows the insulation around your sidewalls and ceilings. Also, the size of your rooms is a factor to consider. These factors will influence the efficiency of your wood burning appliance when it comes to heating your home.
Your choice of wood will have an effect on how your wood burning appliance performs and how long a lifespan it will have. Also, the type of wood you choose will have an effect on the maintenance and service requirements for your fireplace, stove, or insert. Finally, the wood can influence the heat your appliance gives off and how efficient it is. So, for best performance and minimal maintenance, choose wood that’s well seasoned. As part of this process, wood should be cut, split and set aside to dry for at least a 6-month period. The ideal period is actually a whole year and, during this time, the wood should be away from damp conditions and harsh weather so it can season properly. Therefore, if you buy pre-seasoned wood, it’s essential that you have a secure, dry place where it can rest and season.
When you buy firewood or cut it yourself, it will generally contain a lot of moisture and will need to be left to dry out. When you’re not sure if you wood is ready to burn, you can test it with a moisture reader. This hand-held appliance will measure the moisture level in your wood. Any reading below 25% means your wood is ready to burn.
Also, it’s very important that you should never burn wood if it has been treated with chemicals as these can damage your wood burning appliance, harm the environment and even cause harm to your health. Examples are painted wood, wood that’s been pressure treated, driftwood, chip board, or wood with nails or screws still attached. You can burn both hardwood and softwood. Hardwood has the advantage of yielding a greater heat output and will burn for longer. For example, choose maple or oak, which are excellent.
The wood you choose will play a large part in the heat output you get and the efficiency of your wood burning appliance. Different woods have different characteristics, such as the way they smell and the crackle they give off. However, all wood yields the same energy levels and density is the main difference between different types of wood. Harder woods will yield more heat than softer woods. Therefore, you can expect to pay more for hardwoods such as hickory or oak than for soft woods such as pine.
The tables below show you the ideal types of wood for your wood burning appliance. Other important factors are how easy it is to split the wood, light it and burn it. Also, consider the amount of smoke it will give off. There’s a term called “coaling”, which is how easily the wood can form a bed of hot ash to fuel the fire. Hardwoods tend to be better for coaling, which means your fire will be hotter.
Buying the cheapest bargain you can find when looking for a wood burning appliance is a bit of a fallacy. Sometimes, the price you pay can reflect the performance and lifespan of your fire. In truth, there should be a balance between not paying too much or too little. The best advice is to be guided by quality rather than the price ticket. A quality appliance will give you the best levels of performance at a fair and affordable price. Imagine how disappointed you’d be if you got a good deal only to find it stopped working soon after installation. The golden rule is to always look for quality in construction as opposed to the cheapest deal, as quality equals longevity and excellent performance.
Recently, the regulations against polluting wood burning stoves have tightened. The Environmental Protection Agency has set out regulations about how much pollution a wood burning appliance can emit. The reason behind this is that, as part of the combustion process, the smoke from a wood burning fire contains harmful gases and particles. Prior to the regulations being in force, typical wood burning stoves emitted 70-80 grams of particle pollution every hour. Modern non-catalytic stoves will emit less than 4.5 grams of particle pollution an hour. Catalytic stoves will emit less than 3 grams an hour. Both types comply with the regulations.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set clean air standards, which mean that wood burning stoves must now contain a re-burn system. These are special components that reduce particle pollution and they come in two different types - catalytic and non-catalytic.
Catalytic wood stoves have a tiny combustor. When you shut off the damper, smoke runs through the combustor. Due to its very high temperatures, all by-products in the smoke are burned off. This means the smoke that’s emitted is a lot cleaner. Typically, you’ll need to clean your combustor once a year. You can expect approximately 10,000 hours of performance from your combustor.
Non-catalytic wood stoves use secondary air tubes. These sit at the top of the firebox and combine the smoke emitted from combustion with hot air. They burn away more than 90 % harmful by-products. Secondary air tubes generally last ten to twenty years and have various advantages including low maintenance, and an automatic re-burn system. For catalytic stoves, on the other hand, the timing for the damper to be engaged or disengaged is critical.
Whatever type you choose, both burn cleanly and efficiently. However, non-catalytic stoves are renowned for being easy to use with a simple control system. To increase the heat output, you simply need to increase the airflow in the air controller and reduce it for less heat. Catalytic stoves require the damper to be manually engaged and you also need to keep an eye on flue gas temperatures to work out when to open the damper and when to shut it off again.
Firstly, refer to your owner’s manual, which every wood burning fireplace, insert, or stove should come with. In the manual, you’ll find detailed instructions and installation regulations as well as diagrams or pictures to show the clearance requirements. When buying an older model, it may not have been tested or listed. Therefore, refer to the default codes list (NFPA 211 in USA and CSA B365 in Canada) for information on the correct way to install your appliance.
For convection heat, air blows over a heating element and absorbs the heat, which is then blown by convection into your room. This lifts the ambient temperature and creates warmth. Radiant heat works by heating objects and people in a room and is therefore less effective at raising ambient temperatures. However, in smaller spaces radiant heat can be pretty effective.
It’s best way to keep children and animals away from your fire by fitting glass doors or using a sturdy screen. You can get different styles of screen and some are transparent so you can still enjoy the view of your fire while keeping kids and pets safe form the heat and flames.
By-products from the combustion process can cause the glass doors on your wood burning fireplace or stove to have a build-up of deposits, including creosote. This tends to build up in your chimney’s flue, which is dangerous and highly flammable. However, you can get round the problem by properly maintaining your fire.
Always burn dry and seasoned wood as this helps to minimize the build-up. Wet wood generates more creosote. Small, hot fires reduce creosote levels by thoroughly burning the wood. This also reduces the levels of smoke and gives off more heat, so it’s better all round. You can also open the air vents to minimize any deposits build-up.
If you have stained glass doors from creosote deposits, allow the glass to cool down then wipe it on the inside to get rid of the loose debris. Ideally, use damp newspaper for this. If the deposits are tar-like and sticky, you should light a hot fire and burn dry, seasoned wood on it for several hours. This should effectively burn off most of the deposits.
You can buy a special glass cleaner from many of our retailers and this is great for removing deposits. Another lesser known cleaning technique is to dip a damp wad of newspaper into the ashes of the wood then rub it vigorously on the glass to remove stubborn deposits. Then, use a fresh piece of damp newspaper to wipe down the glass again.
Finally, to help prevent creosote from building up on your glass doors in the first place, burn your fire with the air control open. This keeps the smoke away from the surface, making it harder for deposits to form.
You can indeed! Use gas logs, inserts or fit a gas stove to change your wood burning fireplace into a gas fireplace. Bear in mind that you’ll need a gas or propane supply and adequate venting to do this. One of our professional fitters will need to carry out checks to help your work out the best options and you can visit one of our retailers to discuss the various options for the conversion. Never try to do this without expert knowledge or a qualified installer as it could be dangerous. You must ensure your new system is safe and in good working order.
Unfortunately not! It isn’t possible to convert wood stoves into gas systems and it’s even dangerous to try. So, please don’t attempt this under any circumstances.
You know you have chimney drafting problems if you see smoke coming back into your home rather than going up and out of your chimney. There’s no one answer to solve this problem and there could be numerous reasons behind the issue.
The first golden rule is to have a properly-installed wood burning stove or fireplace, which meets current standards. However, this isn’t a guarantee that your appliance will perform as expected. The size of your chimney also plays a critical role. Also, the firebox and flue must be the right size and properly installed for effective drafting to take place. Most wood burning stoves need a chimney flue with a diameter of six inches, and most manufactured zero clearance wood burning fireplaces need a chimney with an eight or ten-inch diameter.
Your chimney design also plays a role in your chimney drafting. To effectively escape, smoke needs to go straight up and out. So any bends, elbows or offsets can be a problem and lead to drafting problems. Therefore, straight chimneys are more effective. Furthermore, chimneys built on the outside of a house are typically very cold and need more time and to warm up the flue for effective drafting. When thinking about fitting a prefabricated metal chimney to your home on the outside, be sure it’s enclosed and insulated to help minimize chimney drafting problems.
Negative air pressure can also lead to drafting problems, especially in more recent homes. Today’s homes are tighter in construction and there’s less air to replace the air consumed during combustion. The places that suffer most from negative pressure are basements. Also kitchen fans, clothing dryers, and even vent fans can also cause your drafting problems when they’re in use.
Finally, external factors can play a role, including the design of your roof, trees near your chimney, high prevailing winds, and even where your home is situated.
Given the many factors that play a part in chimney drafting, it’s best to get a professional chimney technician to diagnose the problem. They’ll be able to find out what’s going on and offer you remedial options.
The best way to minimize the amount of smoke entering your room is to open the door to your fire slowly at first. Open it just a crack then wait for a moment until you open it wider.
Recommendations from the National Fire Protection Agency state that cleaning should be carried out on an annual basis. At the same time, have an inspection carried out to preempt any potential problems.
There is a temperature difference between the air inside of the fireplace and the air in the room. Warmer air has more moisture than cooler air. When the fireplace is turned on, the temperature inside the fireplace begins to warm up and condensation forms on the cooler glass. The water vapor in the warmer air is condensing on the cooler surface. As the fire gets hotter, usually within a few minutes, the glass will clear. Although it can be a bit annoying, this is not uncommon and really nothing to be concerned about.
This can be more of a problem, but can be corrected by a competent fireplace service technician. The black is the result of soot from incomplete combustion. One of these scenarios is likely occurring: 1) the air to fuel ratio is not adjusted properly, 2) the logs are not positioned exactly as the manufacturer specifies, or 3) the burner may have some clogged ports.
The most common issue is the air to fuel ratio. Not enough air equals excessive soot and blackened glass. If the fireplace is new, adjusting the air shutter is done on the initial installation setup. Air/fuel adjustments, log placement and clean burners can also be fine-tuned by your dealer during an annual tune-up and inspection.
On a new appliance, there are oil residues from the manufacturing process. Your new equipment has also been painted with a high temperature paint. It normally takes an hour or two of curing time to burn the excess oil residues off and for the paint to completely cure. During this time, the fireplace may have a strong odor. And, you might even notice a small amount of a foggy smoke. Do the “burn“ procedure according to the manufacturers recommendation, on a mild day so you can simply open a couple of windows to clear the room of any odors or smoke.
Yes, there definitely is a difference! These are NOT synonymous terms! A gas fireplace is designed to be built into a framed wall. This is done during construction or a remodeling project. There is an insulated shell around the firebox that provides protection against overheating any wooden framing members. Gas fireplaces can be vented horizontally through a sidewall or vertically through the roof by means of an aluminum, co-axial vent pipe.
A gas fireplace insert does not have this insulated cabinet or shell around the firebox. An insert is used to update an existing fireplace. An insert is slid-in (or “inserted”, thus the name) to an existing wood woodburning fireplace. Gas inserts use a co-linear venting system and must be vented vertically. Two, 4” flexible aluminum vent pipes are installed in the chimney. One of these is for the exhaust gases to leave the unit, the other for combustion air to flow into the unit.
This is not uncommon. Combustion air levels could be a bit low and the draft will take a couple of minutes to get well established. It normally takes a few minutes for the flames to adjust on a cold start. LP seems to have a tendency to look a little more bluish on start-up than natural gas. But after 5 – 10 minutes a healthy LP or NG gas flame should be a yellow/orange color. If not, it’s probably a good idea to call a certified gas fireplace technician to service the equipment.
Yes it will! Your gas fireplace, stove or insert generates its own electricity to open and closed the gas valve.
Today’s appliances use one of two types of ignition systems: 1) a standing pilot light, called a “millivolt system” or, 2) an intermittent pilot ignition often referred to as an IPI or electronic ignition system. IPI systems use a battery back-up to open/close the gas valve in the event of a power outage. So, keep fresh batteries on hand! The fan in your appliance is dependent on electricity. It will not operate if power is off to the house. But remember, even if the power is out, you’ll still be able to enjoy the radiant heat from your unit.
In a nutshell, radiant heat, heats objects. Think of the sunshine when you think of radiant heat. Ever been sitting in a car with the sun shining through your window? You’re probably warmer than the passengers on the other side of the car. That heat you’re feeling is the radiant energy from the sun.
A good example of convective heat is the forced air furnace in your house. A heat exchanger in the furnace is warmed up by using gas, oil, wood or electricity. As the fan blows air through this exchanger, the heat is transferred to the air. This warm air is then distributed through your home via the ductwork.
Fireplaces, stoves and inserts all provide radiant heat. Add a blower fan to the model and you’ll enjoy the convective heat as well.
A zero clearance (ZC) fireplace is a fireplace that has been designed to be built into a combustible frame wall. There are small “stand-offs” on the exterior of a ZC fireplace that that can be in direct contact with 2x4 or 2x6 framing. This makes for versatile and rather quick installations.
Do not get this term confused with the finishing requirements around a fireplace. There are definite clearance requirements, specified by the manufacturer, for every ZC gas fireplace. That’s why you will see brick, tile or stone around fireplaces. Maintaining minimum clearances to mantles and for the hearth is also critical. See your owner’s manual for specific details on your model.
This is a term that’s used when heating only a portion of your home. When you think about it, most people spend the majority of their time only two or three rooms. And many people like their bedrooms cooler than the rest of the house. Zone heating warms those the area of the home that you spend the most time in. Depending on the size/layout of your home and your family’s lifestyle, many people have discovered that they can save on their monthly heating costs by using their fireplace, stove or fireplace insert.
Family rooms, living rooms, great rooms and homes with an open kitchen/dining/living design are prime candidates for zone heating. Your forced air furnace is probably operating with a burner size of 80, 90, or 100K BTU’s/hour or more. It’s constantly cycling on/off heating the entire house. A fireplace, stove or insert normally operates in the 20, 30, to 40K BTU/hour range. By putting the heat where you spend most of your time, you’re using less BTU’s. And fewer BTU’s saves gas. And saving gas, saves money.
There are adjustable gas valves installed on fireplaces, stoves and inserts. Adjust the flame height down and you will use less gas and realize less heat. Adjust the amount up, and you’ll use more gas and get more heat from the unit.
In the USA and some Canadian provinces, natural gas (NG) is measured in therms. One therm equals 100,000 BTU’s of heat. In other Canadian provinces, natural gas is measured in cubic meters. One cubic meter equals 35,915 BTU’s of heat.
Liquified propane (LP) gas is measured in gallons in the USA. One gallon of LP equals 91,500 BTU’s of heat. In Canada, LP is measured by the liter. One liter of LP equals 23,700 BTU.
In the USA, let’s assume the burner is set at the mid to 2/3 setting or about 30,000 BTH/hour, a common input for many gas appliances. In this scenario, for each hour of fireplace operation, figure a little less than 1/3 of one therm of NG. And approximately 1/3 of one gallon for LP.
If the rate is 60ȼ/therm for NG, for each hour of use, the cost is about 17ȼ. For LP, if the rate is 70ȼ/gallon, about 23ȼ/hour.
Let’s use the same example, but for Canadian consumers. The 30,000 BTU burner is using approximately .83 cubic meter/hour. Using 20¢/cubic meter, your fireplace would cost approximately 17¢/hour.
Meanwhile with LP, the burner is using about 1.3 liters/hour. Figuring an LP cost of 60¢/liter, the cost to operate the fireplace would be about 76¢/hour.
A few other points worth mentioning:
- Adjust the gas usage up or down, based on the actual burner setting. And adjust the gas cost up or down, based on what you’re currently paying.
- Most people do not operate their fireplace 24 hours/day. Remember there are several variables that will affect the heating costs of your home.
- Many gas valves on fireplaces, stoves and inserts will adjust the amount of gas that is burned automatically, based on remote control thermostat settings. The colder the weather the more BTU’s you will need to stay comfortable. The amount of gas will vary according to the heating demands of your home.
- And, you will want to keep in mind that gas companies have fixed charges and other adjustments shown on your monthly statement that can affect the cost.
You need to have a regular gas appliance check and carry out maintenance for safety reasons. This should be done on an annual basis. You can clean the glass door on your gas stove or fireplace every couple of months to prevent sticky deposits from accumulating. However, only do this with a special glass cleaner.
Gas fire appliances are usually low in maintenance but you must still get a certified gas technician to check your appliance on an annual basis. You can get a build-up of deposits that can lead to a chimney fire. Also, a specialist will be able to check for any gas leaks or venting problems. So, book an annual inspection with a certified chimney technician. These checks are relatively inexpensive and you’ll then have the peace of mind that everything is operating as it should.
The functions on your gas appliance will vary depending on the make and model you own. In many cases, you can turn your gas fire or stove on or off at the wall, by using a remote control or by turning the thermostat up or down. A wall switch will just turn the appliance on and off while the thermostat will help you regulate your temperature effectively.
First of all, ensure your gas supply is turned on. When you’re sure that it is, look for your control panel which is behind a door or behind fireplace grates. Locate igniter and on/off knobs which are beside each other. The first one is usually red or black. Then turn the on/off knob to the “pilot” setting and push it to allow a little gas to flow. While doing this, you’ll need to push the igniter button at the same time. You need to press it every thirty seconds, three times, to ignite the pilot light. Hold the button for another ten to fifteen seconds. It should then stay lit and you can turn the knob to the “on” position.
If you’re experiencing a power cut, follow the same steps.
Regardless of whether you’re using your fire all year round or not, it’s best to leave the pilot light on all year round. It will only use a tiny amount of gas and turning the pilot light off can lead to problems that will need to be fixed. Running the pilot light all year round will keep your system working and will also stop insects and bugs from getting into the system and causing problems.
If you follow the instructions above to light your pilot light, make sure you keep holding down the control knob in the ignite position for as long as a minute after the pilot light has been lit by the igniter. This helps to make sure the flame is lit and stable. If you’re still having problems with the pilot light going off, book an appointment with a certified gas technician to diagnose the root of the problem.
Protect children and animals from the intense heat a gas heating appliance can give off. Often, the heat of the flames is enough to get children to keep their distance but you may need to take additional steps. You can buy an attractive fire screen to protect your fire and children safe from the heat and flames too.
Initially, a new fire can emit smoke and/or smells produced due to the painting and finish on your stove or fire. When you first use your fire, the paint will ‘cure’ and some of the finish will burn off. All you need to do is let some fresh air into your room and the initial smell will soon disappear. If it’s still there after several hours, stop using your appliance and get a certified technician to check it.
Over time, your glass door will eventually start to accumulate deposits, which should be cleaned on an annual basis to look after the glass. You can clean the glass more often if you see deposits building up sooner.
Normally, you can change your gas fireplace from using propane to running on natural gas without a problem. You’ll need to change some parts with a gas conversion kit and it’s best to get a certified professional to carry out this job to ensure everything is performed safely. You don’t want to run into problems with your conversion, so get a professional to do the job.
Pellet stoves are environmentally friendly and easy to use, which means they’re very popular today! The pellets they burn are made from recycled materials. They’re also very efficient when it comes to generating heat and this will help to keep your bills lower. Also, you can install them in areas where it wouldn’t be possible to use a gas or wood appliance. Pellet fuel is easy to store and doesn’t take up as much space as logs, for example.
Pellet stoves and inserts are 80 – 85% efficient, which is why they’re so popular!
Wood pellets are made from wood waste such as bark, sawdust, wood chips and other combustibles materials. These are compressed to make pellets and all have the same size, shape and density as well as the same moisture content to produce the same energy when burned.
At the moment, you can choose from two types of pellets, which are premium and standard grades. Premium grade pellets may be better as they have a low ash content and generate more heat. You can also choose from different brands and the only difference is the type of wood, binders, additives, and sawdust that’s used. Finally, don’t forget to check the instructions on your pellet appliance to see what kind of pellets to burn.
The first step of the process is when the pellets are loaded into a hopper. This sits on the top of the appliance and delivers the pellets to a stainless steel burn pot. The flow of pellets delivered is controlled by a technically-advanced circuit board. This regulates the heat output and burning time. Then, the system pulls high pressure air into the bottom of the burn pot, sending it through the burning pellets. The pellets burn with a 95% efficiency so you benefit from an optimum heat output. The next stage is to send the heated air down the heat exchange tubes at the top of the firebox, from where a variable-speed fan sends the hot air out and around your home. Burned pellets leave behind a thin ash and you’ll need to clean this out from time to time.
You can rely on your pellet stoves to have a long life span. Manufacturers of pellet stoves make quality appliances, which normally have very good warranty cover. This warranty usually spans several years or a limited lifetime. It’s always best to buy from a well-known hearth retailer and get a high-quality product that’s properly installed. Of course, you can buy a good deal online but there may be a huge gap when it comes to the quality of the product you receive. You may also end up with a less reliable, less efficient appliance that yields poor heat and has little or no product support.
Unless you’re going to connect your pellet appliance to your existing masonry chimney or to a factory-built stainless steel chimney, most pellet appliances need a 3″ or 4″ type “L” vent pipe. Depending on the location of your appliance, these can be installed vertically or through a side wall.
You usually buy pellets in 40 pound bags, which are easy to store and are far more space-efficient than storing logs of wood. To give you a better idea, a supply of pellets for the winter will need an area of about 6′ x 6′ x 6′ (width x depth x height). The best place to store your pellets is in a dry place like a garage, utility room, shed or basement.
Pellets are clean and easy to store, use and handle. It’s unlikely you’ll find bugs or dirt in among your pellets and they’re a clean way to provide heating for your home with environmentally friendly benefits into the bargain.
Most pellet stoves and inserts work through an automatic ignition system. This means that igniting your pellet stove is a very straightforward process. You can then control the temperature using a wall thermostat. It’s not a good idea to buy pellet stoves that need gelled alcohol to run and need to be manually ignited.
This depends on the amount of BTUs your pellet appliance produces. The great the level of BTUs/hour, the more heat will be generated and the more space it will heat. On full power, some pellet stoves can produce between 40,000 to 45,000 BTUs per hour. You can adjust the BTU output and turn it down to heat a smaller area. Normally, a small pellet stove will run on around 8,000 to 28,000 BTUs/hour. A large pellet stove can produce up to 70, 000 BTUs/hour. Pellet appliances can heat areas from 300 to an impressive 3,000 square feet.
You do need to maintain your pellet appliance and inset with regular annual maintenance checks. You’ll need to clean the stainless steel burn pot, heat exchange tubes, and exhaust. Also, empty the ash regularly and perform a visual check every now and then to make sure no air is escaping from the glass doors or ash pan. It’s important to make sure that your appliance is in good, clean working order!
Your pellet stove will contain an ash tray that collects ash from the burnt pellets. This tray will have a handle and you can pull it out even while the fire is still going. Simply pull it out and empty the ashes. Then, replace it again. If your appliance does not have an ash disposal system, it is recommended to use an ash vacuum cleaner. Il is very important not to use a residential vacuum cleaner that is not certified to absorb ashes. Hot ashes could damage it.
The rate at which the pellets are fed into the burn pot as well as the speed of the blower fan will determine the amount of heat produced by your pellet stove or insert. The quicker the pellets are fed into the system the more heat the appliance will generate. You can control this automatically via your thermostat or manually on the appliance itself.
It’s only natural to want a good deal when buying your pellet appliance. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the price you pay normally reflects the quality of performance and longevity of your appliance. Therefore, it’s better to look for a quality product that you can trust in terms of its performance level than to simply choose a cheap product that might let you down. After all, you don’t want to buy a product, install it, then find it stops working or is constantly running into problems! Don’t forget, if you have questions on the quality of a pellet appliance, you can ask us or any of our retail partners. We’ve all the knowledge and expertise to advise you and help you find the ideal product for your home and your budget.
In this ever changing world, it's interesting to note that over the past 125+ years, some things don't change! Your WE LOVE FIRE expert is absolutely committed to quality: Quality people, quality products and quality service.
The Common Law of Business Balance states:
There is scarcely anything in the world that some one cannot make a little worse and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man’s lawful prey. It is unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.
- John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) English author, poet, art and social critic.