How Not To Install a Wood Burning Stove
A poorly installed wood-burning stove will not only cost you more in the long-term, it can also put your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk.
If common sense doesn’t dictate getting the job done properly, that sobering thought ought to. It’s not the sort of thing to be messing around with on a DIY basis.
To emphasise the point, here are a few horror stories we’ve heard of wood-burning stoves that have been installed incorrectly, and often dangerously.
The register plate sits at the top of the fireplace / bottom of the chimney. It has a dual purpose: to stop anything from falling down the chimney and to stop flue gases from coming back down the chimney and into your room.
The preferred material to use is steel, but some unscrupulous installers use chipboard. It ought to go without saying that using something combustible as a safety measure around a stove is not best practice.
Installing a chimney liner is one of the more straightforward aspects of stove installation. The only thing you really need to remember is to put it the right way up. But we’ve heard tales of supposedly professional installers who managed to complete the job with an upside down chimney liner.
Leaks in your flue or poor connections at any point in your heating system can result in carbon monoxide being released in your room. It’s hardly necessary to emphasise how tragic the results can be in those circumstances.
Back wall problems
According to building regulations, your stove should be fitted at least 50mm away from the wall behind it, assuming that wall is non-combustible. Cowboy installers often breach this regulation or meet the measurement requirements but still endanger life by using or not altering a combustible material in the back wall.
Building regulation breaches
Work that hasn’t been completed by a HETAS-registered installer has to be signed off by your local authority to confirm it meets building regulations. Unfortunately, many people pay an unregistered installer. When they get the local authority in to check the work, it doesn’t meet building regulations.
They either can’t track down the person who did the work or can’t convince them to return, and they’re faced with the prospect of paying for the work to be done all over again.
Gr8fires doesn’t install stoves, but we always advise our customers to use a Hetas-registered installer. It’s the safest and often ultimately the cheapest way to install a wood-burning stove.
Read our article on Building Regulations for more information.
Gr8Fires 2017-12-04 11:16:37
@ frederick john lowe Hi Frederick There no doubt will be. You can search by postcode on the Hetas
website to find installers local to you: https://www.hetas.co.uk/find-installer/ Thanks, Gr8Fires
frederick john lowe 2017-11-30 20:00:16
If I purchase a wood burning stove from you is there a HETAS registered installer in the Stirling
Gr8Fires 2017-11-23 10:11:54
@ D Liddell Thanks for your comments. There are other competent persons schemes other than Hetas,
which we have detailed here:
the installation process is a simple-to-medium complexity DIY task, people get DIY tasks of a
similar complexity wrong all the time. With woodburners, the consequences of a botched DIY job can
be fatal so we have made a decision to recommend our customers use competent installers to make sure
the job is done properly and safely. We've not seen any evidence - anecdotal or otherwise - to
suggest that large numbers of people are opting to install without flue liners due to the expense of
using an installer. Thanks, Gr8Fires
D Liddell 2017-11-22 15:16:45
Asides my previous comments, thank-you for providing a very informative site.
D Liddell 2017-11-22 15:14:47
I have to totally disagree with your article, which in some ways I find misleading. Putting aside
the Hampstead elite for whom the latest fad is "come and look at our lovely wood burner.", a
significant reason for putting in a wood burner is the lack of availability of or ability to pay for
gas/oil/electric for heating - especially in rural homes. The truth is that HETAS are a money-making
machine., simply due to the fact that they are technically operating a monopoly. There being no
competition, they can basically charge what they like for something that isn't that technical. The
cost of using a HETAS installer far outweighs the true cost of an installation - even taking into
account the additional certification costs. This results in potentially thousands of installed
stoves without a flue liner - simply because the cost is beyond their means. It would be far
safer. Part of that cost is the "commissioning". All this involves is using a smoke pellet for a
class 2 test with a pre-warmed flue and checking for correct draw and leaks. There are plenty of
videos on Youtube showing how to do this correctly. To charge £200-250 for this should be made
criminal. to have the cost at around £600-800 which still allows for a profit margin and would
then ensure affordability to everyone. It is certainly not essential to have it fitted by a HETAS
installer, as your Google description suggests..
Gr8Fires 2017-10-16 12:38:22
@ Deb Helme Hi Deb, It depends how long you've had the stove, but if it's a new installation it
sounds like the paint is still curing:
https://blog.gr8fires.co.uk/2016/08/05/smells-from-wood-burning-stoves/ Thanks, Gr8Fires
Deb Helme 2017-10-15 16:45:50
A Mazona Aston stove have recently been installed in my house by a HETAS installer. Every time I use
it, whenever it heats up (after about 30 mins) an unpleasant (chemical type) smell fills the room.
I have a carbon monoxide alarm so it is not this. What might the smell be? Will it eventually
Gr8Fires 2017-09-24 13:03:00
@ John mckend Hi John Which Mazona appliance do you have please? Thanks, Gr8Fires
John mckend 2017-09-23 10:52:53
Hello, I purchased a mazona stove from you a few years ago. Is it possible to change the fire from
a flue at the top to a rear Exit flue. If this is possible can you tell me what I require to
do The jog of changing over. Do I need to remove the liner plate from the rear of the stove and do
I need anything (liner plate ) on the Inside top of the stove. Thank you in advance. Would just
like to add, this stove has been perfect for our house.
Gr8Fires 2016-11-06 20:21:18
@ Car Paget You'll find all the information you need in this article:
Car paget 2016-11-06 09:30:23
Wat height does a mantle peice have to bee from the wood burner
Gr8Fires 2015-11-05 17:15:32
@Derek Peters Hi Derek, Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
Derek Peters 2015-11-05 12:59:37
I haven't found a HETAS installer yet who will even look at the job if I don't buy the flue liner
and all the fittings from them, they all insist that most of the material available on-line is poor
quality and only they supply the good stuff. Given that they won't then tell me the price of their
material, and some have insisted I need 25% more flue liner than I have measured, makes me very
doubtful about using them especially when a visit from the Building Inspector will cost less than a
quarter of their charges.
Gr8Fires 2015-10-05 13:43:21
@Lynn Ferguson Hi Lynn, There's a lot more information here:
Lynn Ferguson 2015-10-02 09:26:36
So 50mm away from the back wall. What is the minimum either side of the fire. I need this advice
whilst I estimate the size of the recess I need for the new fire. The old baxi coal fire place and
surround is to be demolished to make way for something simple and contemporary. Essentially, a box
like hole. Having just read posts below, What should be used to "line" the back, sides and top of
the recess? Thanks
Gr8Fires 2015-04-08 16:48:53
@Viv Bannon. Hi Viv, It might be that the installer is planning to use heat resistant plaster this
Viv bannon 2015-03-28 11:02:22
We recently had a Henley multi purpose stove installed and the plaster behind it is badly cracked.
The installer says he will remove the fire and re plaster but surely it will happen again once a
fire is lit?
Gr8Fires 2015-01-26 14:13:25
@ Colette Bury Hi Colette, obviously we can't comment on what has happened in that specific case,
but we've read about similar cases online and the answer has often been for the stove to be
reinstalled with Vermiculite board behind it. Thanks.
Gr8Fires 2015-01-26 12:43:15
@Paul Goldfarb Hi Paul This checklist should help you think about any aspects of the installation
you might have forgotten: https://lp.gr8fires.co.uk/stove-installation-cost-download/ Thanks.
Gr8Fires 2015-01-26 11:27:10
@Lesley Macintyre It sounds like tar leaking out. Obviously we have no direct experience of your
installation, but generally speaking that indicates a problem with the flue connection.