How To Use A Wood Burning Stove | Kindwood

Winter warmers: How to use a wood burning stove

Winter warmers: How to use a wood burning stove

The heat. The glow. The atmosphere. Prepare for a real winter warmer. When the days get shorter and the nights are drawing in, there’s nothing better than a cosy evening huddled near a wood burning stove. However, if you’re new to the world of the stove, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to how to use it.

From installation and preparation to firewood and heat output, here’s everything you need to know about using a wood burning stove this winter and in years to come. 

How does a wood burning stove work?

First and foremost, wood-burning stoves are more efficient and environmentally friendly than the wood stoves of bygone years and other forms of home heating. These stoves are made of cast iron, stone, or steel and burn wood to heat your home.

It all starts with a flame. You can light your fire with kindling and firelighters and even use our trusted top-down fire lighting method to really get the flame going. When lighting your fire in your stove, the fire produces heat, warming the stove and radiating into the room it sits within. The stove works by drawing out the smoke from the fire through its chimney while the damper within it enables control over airflow, meaning you can control the size of the flame and the heat output. Importantly, your stove’s baffle increases the combustion time of the fire’s gasses, meaning there are less of the partially combusted gasses emitted that contribute directly to air pollution.

How to install a wood burning stove

There are many things to consider when it comes to wood-burning stove installation, starting with getting your stove fitted by a HETAS registered engineer. If this is not possible or you choose another way to get kitted out, ensure it’s done according to Building Regulations Document J and signed off by Building Control if you’re located in the UK. The size of your room, the age of your property and how well insulated your home is will also come into play when it comes to installation, so make sure you consult with a qualified engineer who knows what they’re doing before beginning.

Whether you have an existing chimney breast or fireplace where you plan to place your stove, the distance to combustible materials is hugely important. Wood-burning stoves reach extreme temperatures during use, and the radiating heat poses a potential hazard to nearby walls and furniture. Generally, your stove will come with a minimum safe clearing distance between the stove and nearby floors, walls and items, so adhere to it. If you’re in any doubt about your stove's clearance rating, contact your stove's manufacturer. 

What to put behind a wood burning stove

These stoves must be placed in an environment that is not combustible. Therefore, a few modifications to your space may be necessary if you don’t already have an old fireplace made of brick or other non-flammable materials. In this case, faux panels or a fireback can be used to put behind your wood burning stove, protecting the walls next to which it sits. Stone or faux brick panels or a cast iron fireback provide heat-repellency and also a focal point for your room. Decorative options are available, but many homeowners prefer the natural authenticity of stone and brick and the rustic atmosphere they add to the room.

What is the best firewood for a wood burning stove?

Hardwoods tend to be better than softwoods in a wood burning stove because they provide up to 50% more heat output. This is because they derive from slow-growing trees, so hardwood logs have a greater density, meaning you will also be refilling your stove less than if you were to use softwood. 

You should only use dried, fully-seasoned logs with a moisture content of lower than 20%. You can dry your own firewood for this purpose, but remember to test your logs moisture content. Knock the logs together: if they make a ‘thud’ sound, they are not ready, but if you hear a ‘clack’ sound, they are. A seasoned log will also be much lighter than its undried counterpart.

To make things much simpler and to enjoy your wood-burning stove immediately this winter rather than waiting months for logs to dry, you can purchase specialist hardwood kiln-dried logs and other fire-lighting supplies. You can even have them sent directly to your door, avoiding going out in that winter chill to pick them up.

Learning to use your wood-burning stove can lead to a fundamental change in routine at first, particularly because each stove is different, and you have to get used to sourcing fire supplies. But very soon, you will be heating your space more quickly, efficiently and for a longer amount of time than ever before. Wood-burning stoves are a real winter warmer, so set out on the right track after installation and use only the best hardwood logs, kindling and firelighters to keep your home cosy all winter long.

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