Is my chimney suitable for a stove?

Most of the chimneys are suitable for most of the stoves. If the chimney is in good condition (no cracks, no missing joints, no mortar falling out of the chimney) it doesn’t even need to be lined when stove would be installed. If chimney is in worrying condition it is recommended to contactMat the Fitter for assistance, expertise or advice.  

While chimney may meet all requirements to be used with solid fuel stoves it is an installer job to use proper connector to make stove work perfectly with chimney you have.

The only condition that should be checked (according EU norms) before stove is handed over to the customer is if the chimney provides minimum average draught 0.5m/s note that draught may vary before and after stove is installed. What is important to know as well is that draught in chimney is not equal and changes depending on weather outside and work of ventilation system in the house.

Fuel is one of the crucial factors that define if the properly installed stove will work right or not. The same stove will work different using different sorts of fuel we will be using.

Timber & Firewood (most recommended)
Most stoves are designed to perform highest efficiency (and very often highest kW output) using dry firewood. It is important to realise that firewood does not equal firewood. While different sorts of timber might have different energy value most important is moisture levels contained in timber we have. While dry timber will heat up the stove to the temperature allowing the device to use all advantages of advanced stove designs (such as secondary low ash burn, glass cleanburn systems and long term single load burn) wet timber gives exactly opposite effect (low temperature and low kW fires, black greasy and tary glass, lower efficiency, bigger amount of ash in the firebox). 

It is well worth  to take care of proper drying process of timber we have or check moisture levels before purchase at the supplier depot where we plan to get our firewood. Dry firewood is also the fuel that wears out the stove at lowest rate among all the fuels, gives as well a chance for good steady performance for long period of time without a need of cleaning ashpan. for further details about firewoodor a need to test moisture for the timber you have contact Mat the Fitter.

Coal is the fuel that burns in the highest temperature however not all types of stoves can exploit this factor to maximum. What`s certain- that`s the fuel causing the fastest wear-out of all parts of stove that have direct exposure to coal fire. Comparing to firewood coal purchased in any depots gives us some certainty about max/min quality of fuel we have so performance is very predictable, usage of coal requires cleaning out the ash from firebox and from ashpan nearly every second day of use. Note that some flue systems are defined as “not suitable for anthracite”, in case of doubts if your chimney is good for such fuel contact Mat the Fitter. Some cities and towns have “smokeless zones” introduced. It restricts few sort of coals as a fuel that can be used in certain parts of RoI. Contact local authorities (county councils) for further details in that case.
Turf briquettes
Fuel that burns in relatively low temperature and produces quite amount of ashes. Advantage against coal is way slower wear out of steel and iron parts of the stove, advantage against firewood- turf is relatively easy accessible in Ireland, however it takes a bit more time to heat up the stove using briquettes.

Chainsaw dust briquettes
Very good effective and clean fuel. Disadvantage of this fuel is relatively frequent need of refuelling stove as this type of fuel burns a bit fast. However-  having  good make of stove with perfectly working air intake controls we can get one of the highest score in case of heat and efficiency during the use of stove.      
Note: the way fuel burns depends on many factors and may vary in different situations. Reaction that is ongoing in burning chamber will always depend on quality of fuel, quality of stove, condition of chimney, skills of operator and the weather outside (draughtwise).

Connecting a stove- legal situation

Very important question in case of considering stove installed is whether it shall be connected using back or top spigot connector of the stove (that is mostly question regarding freestanding stoves). Nearly always answer seem to be obvious in favour of back connector which would be nearly fastest and cheapest way of doing it however if stove is simply put on existing heart 99% of them are against the law. Stove placed on the hearth must be complying with,1650,en.pdf 
(source: )
The back connector has to be accessible for cleaning process (soot door for chimney sweep). Of course house owner decides what happens in his house (I used to say that none of them norms will replace properly applied common sense and brain usage) but it is important to know that stove installed against norms (regardless how experienced user of the stove is) makes the house  NO LONGER COVERED BY INSURANCE   in case of fire (even if the stove was not the reason of fire damage in the house). In practical approach to this issue standard 16 or 18 inch wide open fireplaces will be complying with Irish norms only when insert stove is installed (for freestanding stove we don’t have enough room on the hearth to install it without major changes and upgrades of fireplace itself).
It is strongly recommended to contact Mat the Fitter prior to stove purchase as space around fireplace may be very limited and range of stoves can be very narrow).
Everyday use advices

Cleaning the stove(especially the glass)
Well designed stoves- once properly installed and recommended fuel (read more)used- will not let the glass get stained. However- once we are dealing with the glass that is stained (or even pitch black glossy layer of tar) it is a must to wait till glass is cold (room temperature). (WARNING! Cleaning the warm or hot glass nearly for sure will lead to cracking or even shattering  the glass due too big thermal tensions on the surface of the glass). Use recommended stove glass cleaners to be sure the glass is not getting damaged during the clean. It is not recommended to use ash as a cleaning factor to wipe the glass- however it mainly works and does the job it can happen that the glass will obtain scratches during such clean. Note that clean glass is not only estetical issue- clean glass improves heat performance of the stove and helps to keep sotve in proper operational mode.  

It is worth to hoover out ash and debris from the firebox as such deposites can disturb or compeletly stop the designed air circulation inside the stove affecting significantly heat we can extract from the device.
Debris and ash should be hovered out from the top and back of baffle plate as deposites piling up around baffle plate levels can disturb draught and airflow capacity of the chimney.
Replacement of parts during use stove may (and on some stage will) get worn out. All internal parts of the stove can be replaced if needed. Only completely furbished stove can work the way it is designed, providing all aspects of performance- like fuel consumption, heat output and fire duration. Care of internal parts nearly guarantees us that the main body of the stove won`t get damaged at any time of use. If your stove shows signs of wear out ypu should be getting in touch with your stove make dealer/retailer as well as with Mat the Fitter for putting them in.

However changing spare parts inside the stove is not a rocket science I`ve seen elements put upside down or backside to the front. Small misplace of them parts can compeletly alter channels for air circulation resulting in losing more than 50% efficiency of stove. I`ve experienced few callouts from customers that were thinking of scraping their stove (misfitted by a random “installer”) and were asking for my advice about buying new one. In few cases it was enough to put missing cord seal, turn baffle plate in proper position or change one element for new one and stove started to work in completly different manner.
Safety guidelines, advices and requirements

Stove is a device that once installed and operated properly will reach temperatures exceeding even 540`C in some cases. Safety guidelines about distances that should be kept in between stove and different sorts of materials in the room (furniture, surround) must be provided by stove retailer in the manual booklet given to customer with the stove on the time of purchase.  Such information should be enough to give idea to any user what kind of space is to be provided for avoidance any fire hazards however mostly booklets are lacking any information about situations which are not fire hazardous but still may bring a bit of harm to everyday life if missed.

Very important is to mind the children once they are in the room where stove works,.note  that stove can be causing burns in case of touch even hours after the fire is gone. It may be even 2 hours after the fire burns out completely and stove will still retain temperature over 60`C. not to mension what kind of burns can happen when stove is on full swing reaching peaks of its output- most stoves can work in the range of temperatures constantly exceeding 320`C with peaks going to even over 600`C (one of the solutions to increase safety levels is to install insert stove instead of freestanding one.

Very important is to realize what kind of threats user is able to create for stove glass. Once glass is heat resistant (up to 750`C- temperature which I`ve never seen in my tests on the glass at any stage of my work career- that works only in case of facing fire inside the stove and room temperature air on the external surface of glass. Problem starts when hot glass has any contact with any liquid. If there will be such contact made its nearly guaranteed that the glass will shatter instantly. So watch your glass, every time dogs get in the house looking for shelter off the rain, shaking off rainwater off its hair can be glass breaker. Don’t do the wet floor wash around the stove when it`s hot, watch your kids drinking coke in the room with the stove. If glass is looked after it`s nearly immortal. Stove I`ve fitted in my parent`s house works without glass problems 14 years now, my brother uses stove that works with one glass 12 years and that means that taking care for the glass will result in situation where glass will be really the element that fails as the last.
Timber fireplace/surround...
I need a stove. Which stove would be good for my room?

Why is it worth to install a stove?
Comparing stove against open fire we will find quite a number of advantages leaning towards the stove side.If we will make a list of them it will go as follows

Safety issues
The stove gives us very controlled fire, where all matters like sparks, coal or bits of firewood that could be falling out of the open fire are stopped within very confined space,fire lit in the stove can be safely left unattended even for overnight burn.  There`s way lower risk of a downdraught in any circumstances. On the top of that stove generates very little amount of greasy tars and sooty dirt- that decreases significantly any threats of experiencing chimney fires.
Basic economy
Stove consumes way less fuel than open fire does giving better heat in the same time. According laboratory tests of good makes stoves can reach up to 83% efficiency of fire (that’s the highest I`ve seen on product labels)  comparing to 12-18% which open fires can show. Following that simple calculation it leads to the score that stove can give us savings on solid fuel up to 75% leaving on the top of those basic numbers more comfortable heat in the house. In practice most of my customers after installing a stove are setting them in extremely tough operational mode and they`re rather trying to switch off few radiators from the central heating systems. Reassuming- installing 6.5-8kW stove in the average gave my customer savings about 1200-1600 euro on central heating bills each winter. Top class European makes are paid back to customer wallet average in the middle of second season of use.
Better control of the heat in the house
Open fire provides mostly an uncontrolled open chimney shaft that provides non obstacle way for air to flow (mostly upwards). That is an open way for warm air to leave our home constantly. Air going out of the chimney must be replaced by cold air getting into the house from outside through leakages in the windows, gaps in the attic, badly done cavity in the wall or another opened chimney shaft. In such circumstances we are dealing with situation where installed stove gives us profits even in case it is temporarily not used. Blocking chimney shaft in open fires using pillows or balloons will sort the problems of uncontrolled draughts in the chimney however it may result in damping the whole shaft or even water leakages penetrating through our pillow. Such solution needs extra care and actions for drying out the chimney.
Heat distribution control
More choices, more solutions...

How to choose the right stove ?
First important issue that needs the answer is- what is the heat need of the room? Simple question- complicated answer. That depends on few factors like what the house is made from (heat transmission factor of walls, U-fctor etc.what is the air permability factor of the house/room, where the room is placed in the house, how many walls are external etc. There are quick calculators in the internet where you can calculate
what sort of heat will be needed in the room to heat it up but that’s just a rough guideline. What I would recommend- always choose stove size bigger than calculated but make sure it is made by trustworthy manufacturer. Quality of product will give you advantage of controllable work. For instance Riva 50 insert stove 7kW nominal heat output because of very good quality of materials used, design and manufacture give you chance to keep it on sustainable mode of heat on levels below 2,5kW. Note that performance of stove depends on quality of fuel, sort of connection, quality of chimney and a bit on weather too.
Another factor is how much space is provided for a stove. 99% of existing standard open fireplace in Ireland – due to legal requirements and norms- are a place for insert stove only (see Irish Building Regulations Part J –chimneys and heating appliances). On the top of norms for chimneys many urban areas have introduced “smoke control zones” where only certain appliances - approved as “smokeless burning” - can be installed. List of stoves approved as smokeless burning by Defra in UK, which is very likely to be adopted in Ireland as well, you can find here: 
Next factor will be- what kind of fuel customer has access to. Wood burning stoves are basically more efficient than multi fuel ones. Wood needs different oxygen volume and air circulation for sustaining the fire than coal, but it is way harder to find dry firewood supplier with moisture less than normative 20%. Properly installed and regulary serviced woodburners perform better than their coal burning competitors but it will be no advantage when fuel we have is wet. The same amount of timber around 35% relative moisture will give you about ¼ of the heat given by the same amount of timber with 20% moisture level. There are firewood moisture testers on the market- which are very useful and I recommend every stove user to buy one- that will give a way to recognise which fuel is wet and which is dry. Using this tool it`s easy to avoid to buy wet fuel but problem will start if there`s no dry fuel around us locally to buy. 
In such case I always recommend to install dry wood burning stove. Due quality of design and materials EU made stove is preferred. Then take care of storage area for fuel for this and next heating season, even if you have to buy bit dearer fuel from trusted supplier for the beginning.
Facts & Myths

Allthough all stoves - as a merchant produsts- are covered with warranthy of manufacturer it is important to realise that the warranthy doesnt cover durability of internal replacable parts. mostly warranthy covers situation where manufacturers faults are spotted and reported. in practice it means that overheat wearout of stove is not cover by any means and its matter of goodwill (and sort of gift to be honest from your local dealer).
What stove can give you

Backboiler option
Hot air distribution system appliance

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