If you are one of the thousands of British homeowners who is considering switching to a solid fuel or wood burning stove either to save money or save the planet, then chances are most of your thoughts so far have been about how nice it will look in the room and how warm and cosy everyone will be.
Practical considerations often come further down the line, but with any sort of wood burning stove how and where the flue or chimney is located is of critical safety importance.
Every local council across the country has a Building Control department and it is their job to ensure that all work carried out in your home is up to the required standard in terms of both safety and building quality. If you have work done on your home and it is not approved or signed off by Building Control, it will be very difficult to sell it in the future.
Building Control are interested in wood burning stove installations as there are a lot of regulations and rules around how and where to fit the stoves and their chimneys. You can choose to fit your stove and chimney yourself, but if you choose this way, the installation has to be signed off by an approved HETAS engineer (find out how to become HETAS registered if you’re interested) who has undertaken extensive training on wood burning stoves.
Call the local Building Control office to speak to someone to get clearer guidance if you are unsure of procedures.
Where to Site Stove
Before rushing out and buying a stove, think about where in the house it is going to be. The ideal site may be where there is already an existing chimney, and if there is no chimney in the house, it is easiest to place your stove against an external wall to cut down on the length of flue required.
There are lots of different rules regarding ventilation in the room, the size of the flue required depending on the size of the stove and the installation of carbon monoxide detectors, so it is often better to get a professional in rather than try to pick your way through the rules and regulations alone.
Using an existing chimney may seem the most straightforward option when installing a wood burning stove but this is not always the case. Any existing chimney will have been designed for use with a coal fire, and the new building regulations require that older existing chimneys are lined with metal to make sure they are drawing the smoke away from the stove efficiently.
If you are putting your wood burning stove in an existing fireplace, it is also important to ensure that there is enough space all around it for air to circulate, and you it require having the system thoroughly tested to make sure the smoke is being pulled away from the room.
Because of all of the additional work in lining the chimney and carrying out the tests, it may be more economical to locate your wood burner elsewhere in the house and buy a purpose made flue which can be routed through a wall and straight outside.
All manufacturers of wood burning stoves make a range of flues and other accessories to make fitting the new flue as simple as possible. Staff in wood burning stove retail stores can be a very good source of advice and tips about which system would work the best in your type of home.
As fitting a flue will require the cutting of holes in ceilings, walls or both, it is probably better to get the professionals in to do the work unless you have good DIY skills. The flue has to extend 600mm up from the roof height, or higher on felt roofs. Seek professional advice on what applies in your circumstances.
Finally, whatever type of flue is used, a carbon monoxide detector has to be fitted in the room with the stove. This will ring an alarm if the levels of carbon monoxide start to rise above acceptable levels. As well as giving an indication that there is something wrong with your stove, chimney or flue, high levels of carbon monoxide in a home can be fatal, so check your detector regularly. To learn more about the dangers of carbon monoxide, read this article.