Warmth from the wood burner


Newly installed woodburning stove

Since moving to Suffolk, once of the things we have actually managed to do is install a wood burning stove.

Many cheers!

Now the weather is turning colder, I really appreciate sinking back into the sofa in the evening, and basking in the warmth from the fire. Much as I love our house, it doesn’t lack for draughts.

We do have other working fireplaces, but somehow we only get round to lighting open fires on special occasions or when we have visitors. The wood burner however is easier to get going, and heats the room up more quickly, so we’re much more likely to use it.

The photo above shows the wood burner just after it was installed back in February. As with many of our plans, it all took slightly longer than expected.

Turns out it’s not as easy as saying “We want a wood burning stove, please fit one”.

No, first you get a chimney sweep round (the lovely and very helpful Dean Bond) to sweep your chimneys, confirm they’re not blocked up and talk sternly about the importance of bird guards on the chimney pots.

Then you get recommendations for local firms that fit wood burning stoves and have all the right HETAS registration and might actually be able to squeeze in an appointment for someone to come and quote.

The comedy moment arrives when the expert measures your room, sucks his teeth, and explains that because of the size of the stove needed, the regulations insist that he puts in an air brick to ensure adequate ventilation.

Then there is a short pause, while you and the engineer look round at the rattling sash windows, the wind whipping through the gaps between the floor boards and rushing through the open doorway with no door (which is a whole other story all to itself), and clock the fact that if the room wasn’t so damn ventilated you wouldn’t need a wood burning stove in the first place.

So when the next heating expert comes round, you ask if there’s any alternative to punching holes through the elderly brickwork, because you’re pretty sure the local heritage officer and Historic England aren’t going to think much of that plan.

And  luckily the heating engineer works out that because there is a (draughty, cold) basement underneath with an existing air brick, he could instead cut a hole in one of the floorboards and fit a metal grille to comply with the regulations.

So then you make an appointment for the local heritage officer to come round and confirm that yes he’s happy for the wood burner to be installed and the chimney lined, and yes he’d rather you fitted a metal grille in the floor boards instead of installing an air brick, and no you don’t need listed building consent (which is an immense relief).

But then you have to actually choose a stove, which involves looking at glossy brochures with pictures of a myriad of stoves at even wider ranging prices, and asking for recommendations from the wood burning stove experts and people who already have them, and discussing the pros and cons of Nordic styling, fancy fretwork and how many flames you would actually see.

So you get competing quotes for the stove you quite fancy, but also need to allow for:
– installation
– vent kit
– chimney liner
– access platform or cherry picker so they can actually get up to the chimney and fit the liner
– chimney cap, plus a few extras ones because if they’ve got an access platform or cherry picker in place they might as well fit a few other missing chimney caps
– birdguard
– carbon monoxide detector
– thermometer and sweeping brush

This all adds up to the thick end of a few thousand pounds, so you take a deep breath and get through Christmas first.

And then you choose a firm, and get it all booked in, which of course involves some lead time because surprise surprise you’re not the only people in January who’d be quite keen on having a warmer house.

Then you clear the room of assorted toys and chaos, just in case the chimney dumps enormous quantities of soot and dust during the installation, and finally FINALLY the lovely people from Bentley Fire Shop come round and fit your stove.

And your husband rushes out to buy a log basket, and unfeasibly long heat-proof gauntlets, and even shock horror some wood, and then ta dah you get to light the fire and enjoy the warmth.

And luckily, although your husband is slightly suspicious of central heating, it turns out he absolutely loves lighting the wood burner and will happily get it going whenever the weather is nippy.

Wood burner in action last week

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  1. 6th October 2015 / 12:23 pm

    It all looks lovely but all the palava has put me off a bit!! We really would like a wood burner and had a rough quote of £1500 including the stove itself. It would have to be a Defra approved one due to our area. We were aiming for next year but not so sure now. My mother in law lives in a thatched cottage in Devon and had a clay liner some 15 years ago, specifically for thatched roofs. This cost several thousand but she was told it would last for ever. It's all very complicated! !!

    • 6th October 2015 / 12:56 pm

      Don't let me put you off! Once you've got through the process of having it installed, a wood burner creates such a cosy room. If you've already had a quote and identified a stove, you're most of the way there.

  2. 6th October 2015 / 1:23 pm

    The wood burner looks lovely, but even if we were to get on, it would be curtains to our lovely fireplace (a Minster Stone one what was installed in our house when it was built 30 years ago) as it's a low-slung fireplace and there wouldn't be sufficient room for a wood burner in the aperture for the fire. We currently have a Cosymizer gas fire, which looks like a fire, but as that is also 30 years old (when these living flame fires were first coming on the market) that doesn't really give out a lot of heat and isn't economical. But I wouldn't want the faff of lighting a fire now, nor the woodsmoke (a carcinogen) nor the dust. But no doubt all this pales into insignificance when you are cosy beside it on a cold winter's day! No fuel is cheap, too, unless you have access to a lot of free wood (perhaps if you owned a forest of your own.)
    Margaret P

  3. 6th October 2015 / 1:30 pm

    Oh I can't wait until we can light ours. We had one in our other house and luckily we bought ours from a great salvage yard and as we were renovating an old buliding we were in a mess anyway hubs could just get on and install it along with all the other work he did. I agree, it makes a room soooo cozy so quickly and no need for the heating to be put on just if you want to take the chill off. We are also very lucky that at the new place we will have an unprecedented (almost) access to wood due to the field we are buying and our vendor is a carpenter. Can't think of the day when we will actually have to bluy wood. Due to get our first lot cut and ready to season for next year but also have some in stock left with the house. Do wood burners!

  4. 7th October 2015 / 6:53 am

    I love our woodburning stove 🙂 The best thing we ever did was to remove the massive yellow 1970's fireplace (and integral TV stand with shelf for a video player) and put in a stove.

    Admittedly our house is 45 years old, so we don't have to worry about upsetting anyone who thinks our house needs preserving, but it wasn't too much faff to get it put in. The stove installer did the sweeping and got onto the roof with a couple of ladders to do all the work. He even re-plastered the chimney breast! (I'm in N Oxfordshire if anyone wants his name!)

    It is expensive, but apart from the aesthetics, we use the stove enough that we only have the (eye-wateringly expensive oil-fired ) central heating on for about 3 months a year. Last year we got a woodburning Rayburn too and didn't use the radiators at all.
    Wood isn't cheap (stoves are trendy!) but if you ask around you can get good deals and we've been offered lots for free at different times if we've picked it up/chopped it.
    We save newspapers for lighting, the kids occasionally make firelighters out of egg cartons, herbs, paper and candle wax and I collect most kindling on dog walks. I obsessively pick up fir cones- they look nice in the log basket over summer and make good firelighters over winter. I also save corn on the cob husks (after the chickens have pecked them clean) . I found bags of them for BBQ's on sale once in France, and they do burn brilliantly, just dry them out when you eaten them.

    You can even boil a kettle and warm up a stew on the woodstove- you don't need a special oven. Saves a bit of electricity. Plus toasting crumpets, chestnuts…

    Sorry, very long comment!

    • 7th December 2015 / 10:02 pm

      Im in Banbury and need a stove installing , who did you use please?

  5. 7th October 2015 / 7:50 am

    All this is why we installed our wood burner before we actually moved full time into the house 🙂

    Have you tried an Eco fan on top of yours. As it is sat back in the the fireplace an Eco fan on top would push even more of the lovely warm air into the room instead of it rising up the chimney. I have heard nothing but good reports about them, although we have resisted buying one up to now as our wood burner sits out of the fireplace slightly, but I am tempted.

  6. 7th October 2015 / 6:57 pm

    We often get too hot with our woodburner and have to open the conservatory doors to let some warm out!
    Don't tell anyone but we had to have a B* great hole put in the new kitchen wall because of having a Rayburn but we blocked it up as soon as we could. The room is 12 foot wide and 20 something feet long so we figured there was enough air for us and the Rayburn!

  7. 8th October 2015 / 7:30 pm

    Worth the hassle…..it looks so inviting. It will be so cosy when its Christmas too. My house is company owned, so we have central heating, which is lovely. We also have a nice gas fire that gives off a lovely glow on a dark afternoon. We sometimes have this on instead of the heating. Best of both really.

  8. 20th November 2015 / 2:53 am

    I can imagine the great times sitting in front of a wood burning stove. Our current home does not have one. In our next house, my spouse and I want a wood burning stove in the den not the living room. My family and I use the den for most activities, including reading books.

    Rosa Nelson @ HVAC Philadelphia

  9. 5th January 2016 / 10:09 am

    I personally love wood burning stoves myself. I've found that they give a warmth and ambiance that I cannot get with any other heating system. If you have a fireplace in your house, please make sure to have it professionally cleaned so that it does not cause a fire in your home. It is vital to do this regularly throughout the year.

    Carry Scanlon @ Chim Chimney

  10. 18th April 2016 / 8:55 am

    Nothing more comforting and cozy than a burning wood fire. Myself and my husband also went through the unyielding process of removing our old green fireplace and having a wood burner fitted, we too didn't really research what it would involve. I must admit however, central heating has now officially taken a backseat in our home during the winter months, it has also added some romantic nights when on our child free nights!

    Definitely worth the effort overall, expensive and slightly difficult process however the return from a wood burner is priceless. Not to mention all the lovely comments from friends and family, and such a gorgeous christmas addition.

    Ferdinand @ Consumers Choice Roofing and Drainage

  11. 1st May 2016 / 8:16 pm

    Yes, the wood burner looks lovely, but is it Defra approved wood burners? Why I am asking this question is we all should use Defra approved wood burners for our house. In short, because your house is in a place where you're not allowed to have a woodburning stove unless it's DEFRA-approved. So that's pretty straightforward and frankly you don't need to know any more than that. Take a look at Stove World UK's website to find out a lot of Defra approved wood burning stoves at http://www.stoveworlduk.co.uk/

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