With years of experience behind us the Eco Stoves team have compiled a list of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ which we hope will guide and advise you through the process of choosing a stove.

However, if you have any queries that aren’t answered here please do come in to the showroom for a chat if you live locally (DY9 0JB) or give us a call on 01562 700005 and we will be very pleased to help you.

What information do I need to give you so you can suggest the best stove for my needs?

In order for us to give you the best advice we can when choosing your stove please provide your room sizes (width, depth and height), approx. age of house and ideally email us a photo of your fireplace or location in the room where you would like the stove. A photo of your external chimney stack (if applicable) would also be very helpful.
 

How do I work out what heat output my room needs?

Our job is to talk to customers, find out their needs and circumstances and then advise a suitable stove accordingly. We use our knowledge, expertise and the information below so that we specify a stove that can be used effectively from Autumn through to Spring.

The majority of UK housing stock can calculate the heat required for a room using the following formula:
Room volume in cubic metres (width x depth x height) divided by 14 = kw output
For example, a room of 7m x 5m x 2.4m high = 84 cubic metres, divide by 14 = is approx. 6kw

This is a good benchmark but older houses will need more heat and more modern, better insulated houses will need less. In addition to this most couples will each want a different room temperature and therefore this is just a helpful guide. If you have an efficient gas central heating system the stove can act as a secondary form of heat therefore specifying a lower heat output than the calculation determines will enable you to operate the stove at the upper end of its range and this is where it burns more efficiently resulting in cleaner glass and less ash to clear out

The ultimate question – multi fuel or wood burning stove?

When most customers arrive at our showroom they have the understandable preconception that a multi fuel stove provides the ‘best of both worlds’.

What are the pros and cons of each?
A multi fuel appliance is capable of burning wood, coal and smokeless fuel. Burning coal on a multi fuel stove will result in less frequent loading of fuel and longer periods of burning but the ash will need to be cleaned out more often.
For wood burners, wood is a nicer fuel to handle and will require much less frequent cleaning out, however you will need to load it more often.

To explain:
A multi fuel stove has a slotted grate as coal requires air to flow to the underside for combustion (wood only draws air from above). When you burn wood on this slotted grate the wood ash falls through in to the ash pan before it has time to re burn. Not being able to re burn the wood ash results in less efficient burning and more frequent cleaning out.

A wood burning only stove allows you to build up a bed of ash on a solid base allowing the ash to re-burn due to the high core temperature of the appliance. This results in more efficient burning and therefore less cleaning out.

Many customers who initially think they would like a multi fuel stove often purchase a wood burner.

Do I need to line my chimney?

If you have an existing chimney that was built to general building regulations and is structurally sound and gas tight you don’t have to line the flue as long as it passes a ‘pressure test’. However, if you are fitting a closed appliance such as a wood burning stove we advise that you do line the chimney for performance purposes.

A closed appliance (stove) holds the heat inside much longer, making it highly efficient, but this can have a detrimental affect on the flue.

A chimney requires greater performance to pull the air required through a stove compared to an open fire and this increased draught can be achieved by keeping the flue gasses contained in a similar shape and form all the way to the top of the chimney. A liner does this and it also protects the chimney if the gasses cool to the point of condensation which when combined with the products of combustion can be very corrosive and damaging to the flue.

It’s worth remembering that all products vary in quality and that any warranties or guarantees are usually subject strict terms and conditions. We estimate that fewer than 10% of people would have a valid warranty/guarantee as most manufacturers require product registration, annual chimney sweeping by a registered sweep and dated receipts for all maintenance work.
As with most things you buy, go for quality products, listen to advice, burn good fuel and your liner will last a long time!

How often will I need to clean out the ash from my stove?

This depends on many factors including wood quality, stove size, standard of installation, stove efficiency and user operation.
However, for an average evening and weekend user expect to have to clean a multi fuel stove out at least once per week and a wood burner may only have to be cleaned out once a month. Please note this is very approximate and using paper to light the fire will increase the frequency of cleaning out.

What is ‘Cleanburn’ ?

‘Cleanburn’ technology was developed by the Scandanavians a few decades ago. A ‘Cleanburn’ system is usually a series of holes half way up the rear of the burn chamber of the stove and these holes allow additional oxygen to ignite the volatile gases (potentially wasted fuel) resulting in more efficient burning and lower emissions.

What is ‘self cleaning’ glass?

‘Self cleaning’ glass is reliant on your stove having an ‘airwash’ system. ‘Airwash’ is a system where airflow is directed down the glass pushing volatile gases back into the fire to help keep the glass clean. Burning unseasoned wood or using an oversized stove will cause the glass to blacken no matter how good the ‘airwash’ system is.

We usually advise customers to go for a smaller stove than they might first choose and this results in the stove working towards its maximum range, subsequently having the air flowing over the glass at a faster rate results in cleaner glass.

Are stoves controllable?

Yes. Good quality stoves are very controllable on both heat output and on the length of the burn time. Different stoves operate at different levels and generally the cheaper stoves have less control. We find that burning soft wood will give less heat and is therefore better in milder weather conditions.

Can I burn my stove overnight? (slumbering)

This is dependent upon fuel used and quality of appliance. Smokeless fuels should allow overnight burning at low rates of combustion. Seasoned wood should give maximum 3-4 hours. Please note that some flue manufacturers do not allow slumbering and the warranty/guarantee may become invalid. This is due to the reduced burn rate creating more condensates and damage to the flue/chimney.

Is cast iron or steel the best material for a stove?

Customers regularly presume that cast iron is better quality than steel. However, the quality of a product is due to the manufacturer rather than the material used. For example, casting is still a cheap process in the Far East and therefore the cheapest, but poorest quality, stoves are cast iron from these countries.

Poor quality cast will crack and poor quality steel will warp – good quality of either won’t give you problems.

The main benefit of cast iron is heat retention – cast iron stoves will take longer to warm up but they will keep their heat for longer. If you plan to keep a room heated for long periods then a cast iron stove may suit you better, however if you want a few hours heating in an evening a faster reacting steel stove may suit you better.

Can I have a stove if my house doesn’t have a chimney?

With twin wall stainless steel chimney systems a stove can be fitted in many places although there are limitations due to termination heights, distances from combustible materials and limitations on the amount of bends that are allowed.

We can design a flue system for you with a full supply and fit service by our expert team HETAS installers or on a ‘supply only’ basis.

Can I have a stove in my conservatory?

This is a question we get asked a lot, and the answer is yes!
We fit stoves in conservatories on a weekly basis and customer feedback tells us that this makes the room usable all year round.
We have developed a bracket which we have custom made for each installation and this gives the flue system the support it needs as it is against regulations for the flue to be supported by the stove.

What is a flue?

A flue is an outlet for the products of combustion, this often comes in the form of a brick chimney. A flue liner would normally be lowered down a chimney to reduce the internal diameter to the optimum size as determined by the specific stove manufacturer. This is to achieve the correct flue draught to get the best performance from the appliance.

What is a flue system (also referred to as a chimney system)?

A chimney system is a twin walled, insulated metal flue, often seen on the outside of properties. This can be used instead of building a brick chimney.

We can design a flue system for you with a full supply and fit service by our expert team of HETAS installers or on a ‘supply only’ basis.

What ventilation do I need in the room?

A stove needs to breathe just like we do. The combustion process requires oxygen to flow in to the stove at a certain rate. This may be difficult on more modern airtight houses or larger stoves. It is a common misconception that a stove in a large room does not require ventilation, however the airflow needed is affected by air pressures and this will only be governed by ‘airtightness’ rather than room size.
Generally stoves with a 5kw output or less, in houses built before 2008, should gain their air through doorways, window gaps, floorboards etc, so an air vent is not usually required.

You will need an air vent for stoves with an output over 5kw or if the house was built after 2008. It doesn’t matter if it is a large or small room or whether the room has gaps around, doors, windows or trickle vents. We must fit a dedicated, permanent air vent for stoves over 5kw.

Many stoves have the option of a direct air supply (external/outside air kit) – this can be used instead of an open air vent and eliminates the draught that people associate with an air vent.

Open plan rooms
We fit many stoves into open plan rooms where there is an extractor above the cooker hob. If the air is extracted to outside the removal of air can have a detrimental affect on the air flow to the stove and ventilation is then required. This is needed for any size of stove, any age of house and as mentioned above the size of the room does not alter the need for the vent.

With any installation a HETAS engineer will assess the air flow to the room and then perform a pressure test to assess that the correct flue draught has been achieved to meet the stove manufacturer`s installation instructions.

What does external air kit refer to?

This can also be known as an ‘outside air supply’ and is a way of feeding combustion air straight into the stove from outdoors. Even if the stove and situation do not officially require an air vent this system increases the overall effectiveness of the installation as you are not using ‘ready warmed’ room air for combustion. External air feeds are also a requirement when other factors need to be considered, such as when the property has a heat/air recovery system or the house is an eco build and very sealed. As these can affect the stove, and vice versa the outside air kit keeps the stove`s air supply separate from the room.
Kitchen Extractor fans:
We fit many stoves into open plan rooms where there is an extractor above the cooker hob and the removal of air will have a detrimental affect on the air flow to the stove so ventilation is then required. The outside air kit is ideal for this situation.

With any installation a HETAS engineer will assess the air flow to the room and then perform a pressure test to assess that the correct flue draught has been achieved to meet the stove manufacturer`s installation instructions.

Can I get spare parts for my stove?

At Eco Stoves we think this is one of the most important things to consider due to the amount of new manufacturers coming on to the market all the time. Although a few parts such as rope and glass can be bought as ‘after market’ spares, the majority of components need to be supplied by the manufacturer. The availability of spare parts is a very important consideration when we are deciding which brands to sell. The majority of our range comes direct from well-established manufacturers and therefore spare parts are readily available.
For example, some of our suppliers have spare parts for models of stoves over 30 years old.

Who are HETAS?

HETAS are an independent company who have been authorised by the government to approve biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels and services, including the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses (similar to what Corgi are to the gas industry).
Getting a HETAS registered engineer should mean the appliance is fitted to the correct standard as shown in Document `J` of the building regulations.
All of our stove installers are HETAS approved with many years of experience so you can rest assured your stove is fitted to industry standards.

How do I know if I am in Smoke Control Area?

Many parts of the UK are smoke control areas where use of stoves will be restricted to DEFRA approved models and only seasoned wood or smokeless coal can be used. To see if you live in a smoke control area contact your local council, the environmental services department will be able to help you.
You can be heavily fined if you break the rules.

What does DEFRA Exempt/Approved mean?

DEFRA (Department Environment Farming and Rural Affairs) enforce the clean air act so a DEFRA exempt/approved stove is one which has been tested and proven to burn cleanly in a Smoke Control Area. To see if you live in a smoke control area contact your local council – the environmental services department will be able to help you.

Look out for the DEFRA approved logo on stoves on this website – if you live in a Smoke Control Area you can ONLY have an approved stove.

What is Document `J`?

Document ‘J’ is the building regulation for the installations of stoves, flues and open fires. These regulations must be adhered to not only for a correct ‘sign off’ of the installation but also to make sure certain issues are addressed that help the stove to perform correctly.

A very important part of the building regulations is that you must fit the stove according to the manufacturers instructions – these override building regulations.
Your HETAS installation certificate is proof that your work has been carried out to the correct regulations. Without this you may have difficulties when selling the property and your house insurance may become invalid.

Can I install my own stove?

Yes you can, but it is essential that everything conforms with Document “J” of the building regulations for safety reasons. If the installation does not conform you will experience difficulty when selling the property as the installation will be questioned and reported on the property search.

Do I have to have a hearth?

According to Document ‘J’ of building regulations, a stove needs to sit on a hearth of non-combustible material which also needs to protrude 300mm in front of the appliance (sometimes only 225mm). The hearth thickness needs to be 125mm – this can include the constructional hearth beneath floor level.

The hearth thickness can be reduced to just 12mm if during the stoves approval testing the hearth temperature did not exceed 100 degrees centigrade. This will be advised in the manufacturers fitting instructions.

What is the best wood to use on my stove?

The most important factor is the moisture content of the wood. A moisture content of 20% has been adopted as the industry standard and this is what stove efficiency figures are based on. Variations in moisture content will have a great effect on the way the stove burns so the drier the wood the better.

Hardwood grows slowly and is therefore a more dense fuel, burning for longer.

Softwood is faster growing and is therefore a less dense material so it will ignite and burn quicker.

To get improved efficiency kiln dried wood can have as low a moisture content as 10% and subsequently burns very well which you will pay a premium for. Ideally it will be stored indoors – as it has been dried artificially if it is left in a damp environment nature will take its course and moisture will be drawn back in like a sponge.

Heat logs can also be used – these are reconstituted wood made out of the sawdust from wood manufacturing and forestry. As these are artificially made they have a similar moisture content to kiln dried wood, around 10%.

What is seasoned wood?

Seasoned wood has been stored outside, in a position where air can flow around. During storage the wood expands and contracts pushing the sap out leaving ‘dry’ wood as an ideal fuel. This can take up to two years depending on the wood type. Good woods to burn are Ash, Beech, Oak and generally it’s better to use hardwoods rather than softwoods.

What warranty does my stove have?

Our installation work is guaranteed for one year although we do look at issues individually.
Manufacturers warranties on flue parts and stoves will have terms and conditions applied and often the need to register the product with the manufacturer. Meeting all the criteria of the warranty is the responsibility of the customer.

How do I light my stove?

Our installers will show you how to operate the stove after fitting it, however you will have to learn how to use the stove, just like learning to drive a car.
There is some trial and error involved in finding out what works for you but our staff in the showroom are on hand 7 days a week to advise you.

What is a Pressure Test?

There is much misconception about pressure tests. We often get told by customers that their chimney sweep has tested the chimney and said it is ‘sound’ however the only acceptable test is that specified in Document ‘J’ of the building regulations.

A pressure test for solid fuel is to identify leaking chimneys and requires the chimney to be pre-heated and a smoke pellet ignited, as the smoke reaches the top of the chimney the chimney should be capped top and bottom and then a visual inspection carried out of the whole chimney stack to check for leaks.

Please note: a pressure test is different to a flue draught test which is done at the end of the installation to assess the flue performance.

Do I need a carbon monoxide detector?

Yes. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an extremely poisonous gas that can be present in the fumes from the incomplete combustion of fuels.
Although Carbon Monoxide (CO) is an issue more associated with gas appliances it can be the result of combustion of ANY fuel, including wood.
The gas cannot be seen, smelled or tasted making it difficult to detect. You must fit an audible CO alarm but you also need to have your appliance regularly serviced and cleaned, and your chimney swept.

Do I need to have my stove serviced?

We recommend you have your chimney swept annually and this usually involves removing the bricks from the inside of the stove. This work constitutes the majority of a service. Your chimney sweep will also advise on the condition of rope seals and the stove internals. These parts can be purchased from us if necessary. It’s best to have a service done in summer, before you want to start using your stove.

How often do I need to have my chimney swept?

You should have your chimney swept at least once a year. With use, soot deposits and tar build up, reducing the chimney’s draw causing the stove to run less efficiently and can cause a chimney fire. Give us a call and we can recommend a sweep.

Eco Stoves Price Match Policy

We will do our best to beat any internet price and we normally succeed. Please give us a call or complete the enquiry form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.