Wood burning and multi-fuel stoves

What to burn?                     Thanks to HETAS for this advice ~

Wood burners have flat beds on which to load fuel. Multi-fuel stoves have grates. You can put wood on a multi-fuel stove, but you can’t put coal on a wood-burner.

Hard woods, such as oak and ash, take longer to burn so you’ll use less fuel. Wet logs will tend to blacken the glass in the stove, as the fire has to boil off the water in the wood before any heat is provided to the room – so always burn dry wood. You can buy a moisture meter for about £20. Briquettes are made from compressed sawdust, a by-product of the sawmill industry. They take up less room than logs and burn cleanly and quickly.

How to light a wood burning stove

  1. Fully open the air vent.
  2. Put a firelighter or scrunched-up newspaper together with some dry kindling wood on the grate. Light the firelighter or paper.
  3. Leave the door slightly ajar while the fire gets going and the glass warms up.
  4. Once the fire is going, add some larger pieces of wood. (Don’t fill the chamber with logs.)
  5. When the logs have caught and the fire is fully established, close the door completely.
  6. Close the air vent.
  7. Use the airwash to control the burn rate when the appliance is at operating temperature.
  8. Maintain the fire frequently with small amounts of additional fuel.

How to light a mineral fuel stove

  1. Start with firelighter and a small amount of small sized coal.
  2. Set the air control to maximum.
  3. Once the original fuel is well alight, start building up the fuel in the grate without overfilling the chamber.
  4. Reduce the air intake once the whole bed of fuel is burning well.
  5. Add more fuel at a frequency that keeps a good bed of red hot coals.

Maintaining your stove

Wood burns best on a bed of its own ash – you don’t have to clean it out before every use.
Mineral fuel – empty the pan regularly to stop ash building and touching the underside of the grate. This would reduce air flow around/through the grate and could lead to overheating of grate bars and damage.
Throat plates to be cleared at least monthly, or when recommended by the manufacturer in the instruction manual.
Always replace grate and fire bricks if they become damaged.
Check the stove door(s) rope seal is still air-tight. Over time rope seals will become compressed enough to allow some combustion air into the stove, reducing your ability to control the flame and also losing fuel efficiency.

Chimney sweeping

Chimneys should be swept at least twice a year when burning wood or bituminous house coal and at least once a year when burning smokeless fuels. The best times to have your chimney swept are just before the start of the heating season and after any prolonged period of shut-down. If sweeping twice a year, the second time should be after the peak of the main heating season. You can find a HETAS-approved chimney sweep at www.hetas.co.uk/find-chimney-sweep/.

Safety checklist

  • Always use the right fuel for the appliance – as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Keep all combustibles, including logs, at a safe distance from the hot stove.
  • Make sure any external air ventilation grills are not blocked.
  • Do not slow/slumber burn. Do not ‘turn the stove down for the night’.
  • Never leave an open fire unattended without a spark guard.
  • Always use a securely fitted fireguard when children are in the house.
  • Get your stove serviced every year by a HETAS Registered Installer.
  • We recommend that you contact your insurer about your new stove as it may affect your insurance policy.