When it comes to installing your wood burning stove, there are a few health and safety factors that need to be taken into consideration, and ventilation is one of these.

All heating appliances that generate heat from the combustion of carbon-based fuels such as gas, oil and solid fuels including wood, require sufficient air from outside for complete combustion and to enable the flue to function.

For your wood burning stove to work effectively, it must have a supply of air, and the evacuation of flue gases is essential. Without air, the stove won’t light properly, and smoke could fill the room as air movement is needed for smoke to be drawn upwards through a chimney.

Ensure you adhere to building regulations

If you have a solid fuel, wood or biomass burning appliance that draws combustion air from within your home, you must install, or already have fitted, a fixed and permanently open ventilator to provide air from the outside of your premises. This is a requirement of Building Regulations as without adequate ventilation the combustion process is incomplete, and you risk generating large amounts of carbon monoxide.

If the function of your flue is also impaired, this combination could result in the emission of poisonous gases into your home, posing a high risk to occupants.

Positioning and maintenance of permanent ventilators

Ventilation rates for wood burner stoves are based on the air permeability of your house as well as the rated output of the stove. Your wood burner stove installer will be able to advise you on ventilation rates and on the best position for the vent.

On the whole, ventilators require little maintenance. However, you should regularly check your vent to ensure it’s free from any obstructions. Occasionally, insect nests, overgrown plants or dust accumulation can cause a blockage and should be cleared immediately; otherwise you could potentially cause a serious health risk as well as failing to comply with Building Regulations.

Make sure your ventilator size is correct

An experienced wood stove fitter will be able to advise you on how much ventilation is needed for your appliance.

It’s essential that the size of your ventilator is sufficient to provide the amount of air you need. Regulations will give you guidance on how to geometrically measure the free area of a ventilator grille.

However, geometrical measurement of the free area on a vent is not always accurate when it comes to the ventilator’s precise air intake, although this could be the only method available to you. Dynamic testing, called the ‘equivalent area’ will show you exactly how much air a ventilator is effectively giving.

If you notice that your wood burner stove smokes, or isn’t burning very robustly, try opening a window. If this improves its performance, then this is a sign that you should increase ventilation in that room.

Look for a HETAS registered stove installer

HETAS is the official body recognised by the Government that approves solid fuel heating appliances, including the registration of competent installers. A HETAS registered stove installer has the experience of installing different types of stoves and will be able to make recommendations on every aspect of your wood burning stove including ventilation and other health and safety issues.

If you’re considering installing a wood burner or multi-fuel stove and would like advice from a HETAS registered engineer, contact Peter on 07749 863650.

Download a PDF on General Guidance from HETAS on the selection and installation of flues and chimneys for wood burning and multi-fuel appliances in residential properties.

Download a PDF on Permanent Ventilators - Advice from HETAS, for the supply of combustion air.