Wood burner stoves are a great way of reducing your energy bills and using a renewable fuel. However, if you intend to open up your fireplace to install a stove, there are a number of points to consider.

woodburner stove in fireplaceAre there combustible materials nearby?

You must first check that you are not too near any combustible materials. Your stove manufacturer will specify the distance your appliance should be away from items such as the mantelpiece, plasterboard or timber.
A combustible material is anything which could possibly catch fire such as wooden beams, fabrics and wallpaper.

What is the size of the recess?

Stoves need air gaps around them, and the distance of these will be provided by the stove manufacturer.

Air gaps stop the walls of the recess overheating, and they also allow heat from the stove to circulate into the room. If your stove is too enclosed, it will only succeed in heating the wall around it and not warming the room as much as it should.

If your current fireplace recess if too small a builder should be able to increase the size for you.

Do you have a chimney breast?

If you have a solid fuel stove, your chimney breast will need to be swept and lined as this will help the wood burner stove to function more efficiently. This is because the space that needs to be heated up is smaller if it’s lined and this will also give better protection against carbon monoxide gases.

Your chimney should be swept at least twice a year if you’re burning wood and at least once a year when burning smokeless fuels. The best times to sweep your chimney are before the start of the colder months when the stove will be in maximum usage and after any extended periods of not being used.

Does your stove need a hearth?

Whether you need a hearth depends on the type of wood burner you want to install. If your stove directs heat of around 100°C downwards, then a constructional hearth is needed. This could be a solid slab of at least 125mm depth. A deeper slab may be required if there are combustible materials underneath the hearth. 

It may be that your fireplace already has a hearth and if this is the case, it should project at least 500mm in front of the recess and be about 150mm wider on each side.

Most stoves don’t require a constructional hearth, but you will need to ensure there’s a safe area around your stove to catch any ash or embers that may fall out when you open the door.

For more advice on installing stoves, download this informative leaflet from HETAS:

Operating and maintaining your stove

Use a HETAS registered stove installer

HETAS is the official Government recognised body for solid fuel, wood and biomass heating systems, fuels and services. 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 woodburning 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.