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Answers to the most commonly asked stove related questions

Q1. What sort of fuel can I burn in my stove?
Stoves are designed for wood burning, solid fuel burning or both and have a burning grate specifically designed for the fuel type. Those stoves that can burn both wood and solid fuel are usually known as multi fuel stoves and often have an external lever or control to adjust the burning grate for different fuel types.

Q2. What are pellet stoves?
Pellet stoves burn compressed wood in the form of pellets via an automatic feed and control system that only consumes fuel when heat is required. The burning rate is determined automatically thus eliminating wastage and providing optimum efficiency.

Q3. How often do I have to clean ashes from my stove?
A wood burning stove often benefits from having a bed of ash so, depending on use, will probably need cleaning out no more than once a week. In contrast a solid fuel stove should be riddled and the ash removed daily.

Q4. What is the difference between a solid fuel and multi fuel stove?
Essentially it's the type of grate they use. For burning wood a flat grate is required with air directed into the top of the fire. For solid fuel, air must be directed through the fuel from underneath (see Q1).

Q5. How big does the hearth have to be?
When a stove is installed in a fireplace recess, the hearth must extend 500mm (20") in front of the stove and 150mm (6") either side. Where a stove is freestanding and not within a fireplace recess, the hearth must be not less 840mm (33") square and the stove itself not placed closer than 150mm (6") to any of its edges.

The hearth for a stove that has doors that open must extend a minimum of 300mm (12") from the front of the stove. Hearths for fireplaces and stoves must be at least 50mm (2") deep and manufactured from non combustible material.

It is very important when ordering a fireplace and hearth to make sure your supplier knows what type of appliance is going to be used. A hearth material and construction suitable for a gas fire may not be suitable for a solid fuel fire.

Q6. I don't want to renew my carpet. Can a hearth be made to fit?
Yes, made to measure hearths are available from many manufacturers but their dimensions must comply with those detailed in Q5 earlier.

Q7. What type of chimney or flue have I got?
The type of chimney or flue can sometimes be identified by the age of the property although it is always worth asking your retailer to arrange for a survey to be absolutely sure. Homes built before the late 1960's will often have what are called Class 1 (capable of burning solid mineral fuel or wood) chimneys. Homes built after that time may still have Class 1 chimneys but could also have Class 2 flues or pre-cast flues (these are for gas appliances only) so you need to be certain which type you have before choosing a new stove.

Q8. Do I need to have my existing chimney lined?
This entirely depends on its condition and your retailer, installer or chimney sweep will be able to give you further advice and arrange for a simple test to be carried out to check if everything is okay.

It is unwise to assume that a chimney or flue works correctly simply because it is there. Testing may discover problems that are completely hidden from view like internal damage or blockage.

If an existing chimney has to be lined remember that this may influence or restrict your choice of stove.

Your HETAS registered installer will offer you the best advice.

Q9. What size of chimney or flue do I need for a stove?
For burning coal, coke or wood in a stove, the size of the chimney or flue required will be detailed in the manufacturer's instruction and may be smaller than the 200mm (8 inches) needed for an open fire.

Your retailer, installer or chimney sweep will be able to advise you further.

Q10. Will I need to get my chimney swept?
Yes. It's always advisable to get an existing chimney or flue swept or checked before the installation of a new fire or fireplace. To contact a registered chimney sweep in your area, go to websites, or

Q11. Will my chimney or flue require anything to be put on the top?
Depending on the age and type of your chimney or flue, a terminal or guard may be required. A terminal is usually used to ensure adequate flow up the chimney or flue and, in some instances, to alleviate down draught or smoking. A terminal can also provide protection against the ingress of rain, birds seeking a nesting site and vermin seeking warmth.

Where a terminal is not required, a suitable guard can be fitted to deal with bird and rodent problems.

Q12. How much heat do I require for my room?
Many factors influence the heat requirements of a particular room or area such as the number of external walls, window size, number of doors, level of insulation and ventilation rate so it's worth having an accurate estimate before deciding on the appliance you are going to fit. If your house is centrally heated, the heat output from your stove may not be essential for keeping the room comfortable in the depths of winter but may become more important in the spring and autumn when you may be able to do without central heating for much of the day.

Q13. Does all the heat go up the chimney?
The efficiency of a stove usually indicates how much heat is lost up the chimney or flue. If a stove is say 70% efficient, 30% of the energy it consumes is lost although some or all of this 'loss' may be essential to keep the chimney or flue operating correctly. This heat dissipation could be radiated back into the property through the chimney so the total energy loss could be smaller than the 30% example.

Q14. Do I have to get planning or building permission for my new stove?
From the beginning of April 2005, it became a legal requirement to notify all work including new or replacement appliance installations to your local authority although this is now done automatically on your behalf by your HETAS registered installer. Please seek the advice of your retailer as specific 'approval' requirements vary from one local authority to another.

Q15. Can I install a stove myself?
You are strongly advised to use a HETAS Registered installer. All appliances must be installed by a competent person such as a HETAS registered installer who will understand the safety and Building Regulations issues and who will notify the work via HETAS to your Local Authority as required by law. Failure to do so may leave you open to prosecution and could also invalidate the manufacturer's guarantee.