This will depend on the current construction of your chimney. We assess each job individually. In many cases it is unnecessary to line the chimney. For example if you have a 1970's house you will more than likely have a concrete block liner that if in good condition, should be adequate for your stove. If you have a large brick chimney, it is often advisable to line it. This increases the draught, which in turn makes your stove work better and lowers the risk of tar and soot build up (which can cause chimney fires).
If you need a stove over 5KW in output then it will be necessary to have a permanent vent in the building to assist with flue draught and to make sure the fire has enough oxygen to burn safely. Anything under 5KW can be installed without need for ventilation.
It is important to have a stove that is the right size for the room it is going into. Too big can be just as bad as too small. It is often better to have a smaller stove working hard than to have a larger one that is just chugging away.
To help we've created this handy woodburner stove size calculator.
Many stoves have the option of a back boiler, this can provide hot water or link into a central heating circuit to distribute the heat around the house. You must take care as there are safety implications. You can imagine the damage that an exploding back boiler could do. However a good plumber or heating engineer will install a safe and very effective system that will give you years of cheap heat.
From our experience one stove heating a room for a year will consume roughly 15 cubic meters of wood. Most merchants sell by the load, and of course that can vary. In 2008-2009 we used approximately £300 of wood for our stove in the main living room and we were really cosy.
One of the most critical factors in wood burning is the moisture content of the wood. This is where wood seasoning comes into play. Freshly cut wood will contain a moisture content of around 65-90%. This wood should never be used. Apart from producing very low outputs this wet wood will also generate large amounts of soot and tar, which can potentially lead to chimney fires (as these particles will coat your chimney and are combustible). For best results wood should have a moisture content of less than 20%. The process of removing the excess moisture is called seasoning. Seasoning is air drying the wood and can take up to two years. Wood should be stored in a well ventilated, (but covered), structure outdoors. You can buy kiln dried wood but this is not as environmentally friendly as air dried wood.
You can test wood by using a digital moisture meter. You can buy digital moisture meters for around £20 from Maplin or Ebay. These will give you a moisture content reading in % good enough for you to reject a load if it turns up wet.
Always burn dry wood, never fresh or wet wood. Wet wood will create slow combustion exacerbating tar and soot build up and creating noxious fumes.
Every time you use your stove burn it hot with ample air to heat up the chimney and crystallise the tars.
Build a well ventilated wood store. Buy your wood at the beginning of the summer and store it for the winter. Wood that has been drying for 2 years is ideal. Make sure you buy seasoned wood from a reliable woodperson.
You can buy electronic moisture meters from Maplin to assess the relative moisture in the wood. Some folk even weigh the wood before and after drying to compute the percentage moisture. Of course old scrap wood is ideal, it has a second life keeping you warm.
Regular chimney cleaning will maintain the performance of your woodburner stove, and ensure that you do not have a buildup of soot and tar. Where possible, look down from the top and up from the bottom of the chimney for creosote deposits. A depth that exceeds 1/8 inch should be cleaned. We recommend that every homeowner have their chimney inspected, and swept if necessary, when they move into a home before using the chimney. Annual inspection and cleaning (as necessary) should be undertaken to ensure safety, optimum effiency and to validate your insurance cover. It should not be difficult to access the chimney via the access plate and sweep the chimney with a stiff chimney brush.
If you can't do it yourself The Fire Place Chesham can provide a complete maintenance service for you.
Most wood stoves burn on the ash and should only need cleaning out when the build up of ash interferes with the burning.
We will advise you the best way to tune up your new woodburning stove. When firing a new stove gradually acclimatise the cast iron to the demands of the fire. Too much heat too quickly can harm your stove.