Information

Fireplaces, Hearths and Guarding


Q1. Does an open fire need a hearth?
Q2. How big does the hearth have to be?
Q3. I don't want to renew my carpet. Can a hearth be made to fit?
Q4. Does my open fire need a guard?


Q1. Does an open fire need a hearth?

Yes. Unless the fire manufacturer's instructions specifically state otherwise, all open fires (solid fuel or gas) need a hearth.

The hearth for a stove that has doors that open must extend a minimum of 300mm (12") from the front of the stove and for stoves where the doors cannot be opened, 225mm (9") from the front. Hearths for fireplaces and stoves must be at least 50mm (2") deep and manufactured from non combustible material.

Q2. How big does the hearth have to be?

A hearth should extend forward from the fireplace opening 300mm (12") and 150mm (6") either side of the fireplace opening. These measurements are taken from the front of fireplace opening or, where the fire itself is recessed into the opening, from the front of the burner. Where 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 and for stoves where the doors cannot be opened, 225mm (9") from the front. Hearths for fireplaces and stoves must be at least 50mm (2") deep and manufactured from non combustible material.

Q3. 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 A2 earlier.

Q4. Does my open fire need a guard?

A suitable fire guard is recommended for all open fires for the protection of the young, infirm, elderly and pets. A fire guard not only prevents hot material from falling from the fire but also prevent clothing from coming into contact with the naked flames or embers.



Installation and maintenance


Q1. I do not have mains gas. Are there other options?
Q2. Will the installation of my new fireplace damage my wallpaper?
Q3. How do I clean the mantel and hearth?


Q1. I do not have mains gas. Are there other options?

Some gas fires and gas stoves are also available for LPG (liquid petroleum gas) we also have Bioethanol fuel fires.

Q2. Will the installation of my new fireplace damage my wallpaper?

Probably, a new fireplace needs to be securely fastened to the wall behind it and this usually requires brackets to be sunk into the surrounding plaster. Occasionally, a new fireplace may overlap the one it could be replacing and also offer a permanent fixing arrangement that will not damage the surrounding wall or wallpaper.

Q3. How do I clean the mantel and hearth?

Seek our advise before using any product. Some fireplace materials require special care and it's best not to assume that a cleaner you previously found suitable will be just as good for your new fireplace. Some fireplaces cannot be cleaned with water without the risk of damage.



Chimneys, Flues and Ventilation


Q1. What type of chimney or flue have I got?
Q2. Do I need to have my existing chimney lined?
Q3. What size of chimney or flue do I need for burning solid fuel?
Q4. Will I need to get my chimney swept?
Q5. Will my chimney or flue require anything to be put on the top?
Q6. I don't have a chimney so can I have a gas fire?
Q7. If I have a power flue fire, does it have to be fitted on an outside wall?
Q8. My neighbour has either a balanced flue or power flue gas fire which has a terminal and cage on the outside wall. If I choose a balanced flue or power flue fire, will I have to have the same thing?
Q9. Our chimney has been removed downstairs but is still upstairs and in the loft. Can I restore the fireplace downstairs?
Q10. Does my fire need ventilation?
Q11. Why do some fires require an external air vent and others don't?


Q1. 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, the chimney sweep will advise you at the time of his visit. Homes built before the late 1960's will often have what are called Class 1 chimneys. Homes built after that time may still have Class 1 chimneys but could also have Class 2 flues or pre-cast flues so you need to be certain which type you have before choosing a new fire.

Many gas fires are suitable for installation with all three types of chimney and flue but some are not. This is why the chimney sweep should do their report before purchasing goods.

Q2. Do I need to have my existing chimney lined?

This entirely depends on its condition and your 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 fire.

Q3. What size of chimney or flue do I need for burning solid fuel?

Burning coal, coke or wood in an open fireplace requires a chimney or flue with a minimum internal diameter of 200mm (8 inches) and constructed of a material specifically suitable for solid fuel.

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 200 mm (8 inches) needed for an open fire.

Q4. 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. Our chimney sweep is registered with The Guild of Master Sweeps and HETAS. If you are outside of our areas then you can use the following link to locate a chimney sweep:

http://www.guildofmasterchimneysweeps.co.uk/find_sweep.php

Q5. 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.

Q6. I don't have a chimney so can I have a gas fire?

Yes. There are currently three types of gas fire that do not need to be connected to a chimney or flue.

Flueless gas fires are designed to work without any sort of flue at all. Many types use catalytic converters to change the combustion products into harmless vapour which is allowed into the room.

Balanced flue gas fires use an arrangement that passes through the wall immediately behind the fire that both evacuates the combustion products and allows in air for combustion. Balanced flue fires (sometimes called room sealed fires) are completely sealed from the room and usually have a glass front through which the flame effect is visible.

Power flue gas fires use a fan arrangement to conduct the products of combustion from the rear of the fire to the outside world. Occasionally power flue gas fires are used where a conventional chimney or flue is too small or its performance cannot be guaranteed.

Q7. If I have a power flue fire, does it have to be fitted on an outside wall?

No. There are some power flue gas fires where the products of combustion can be ducted to a point on an outside wall up to 7 metres away from the fire.

Q8. My neighbour has either a balanced flue or power flue gas fire which has a terminal and cage on the outside wall. If I choose a balanced flue or power flue fire, will I have to have the same thing?

Both balanced flue and power flue have to have a terminal on the outside wall which, depending on its height above ground level, has to be protected with a cage to prevent people coming into direct contact with the terminal which can become very hot.

Q9. Our chimney has been removed downstairs but is still upstairs and in the loft. Can I restore the fireplace downstairs?

Yes. It is possible to replace or rebuild the chimney breast downstairs but great care must be taken to establish how the original removal of the chimney breast was carried out and completed. A chimney breast that rises through a house is often a structural component and its full or partial removal may have required new components to be added that could affect its rebuilding.

Such restoration may require Building Control approval from your local authority and their advice should be sought before undertaking such work.

Q10. Does my fire need ventilation?

Apart from electric fires, all open fires, irrespective of their fuel type, need an adequate supply of air to burn properly. Restricting the air for combustion may cause the fire to burn incorrectly and increase the risk of it producing toxic combustion products. It may also reduce the effectiveness of the flue or chimney.

In some cases, the ventilation can be from the room itself and does not require an air vent through an outside wall this will depend on the manufacturer. Our gas fires under 7kw input do not require ventilation.

UK Building Regulations recommend a permanently open supply of ventilation air for stoves of 550 sq mm/kW, for every kW above 5.

Q11. Why do some fires require an external air vent and others don't?

Quite simply it depends of the type of fire you want to have installed. Fires that consume the least amount of gas may be able to draw sufficient air from the surrounding space to work perfectly. The surrounding space is itself ventilated around the tiny, almost invisible, gaps around doors and windows and this 'adventitious' ventilation is enough for some fire types.



Fires, Stove and Controls


Q1. How safe are gas fires?
Q2. What are flueless fires, how do they work and are they safe?
Q3. What are gel fires, how do they work and are they safe?
Q4. Are convector fires better than non convector fires?
Q5. Are living flame fires more expensive to run that other types?
Q6. I don't like the logs, coals or pebbles on my new gas fire. Can I change them?
Q7. What are the artificial coals, logs or pebbles made from?
Q8. How often do I have to change the coals on my coal effect gas fire?
Q9. What happens if waste paper is thrown on my gas fire?
Q10. I have a gas fired back boiler with a gas fire on the front. Can I change the fire without changing the boiler?
Q11. How do I operate a gas or electric fire. Do I need to bend down?
Q12. If I have a remote control fire do I need an electricity supply?
Q13. Can I still use my power flue gas fire if there's a power cut?
Q14. What sort of fuel can I burn in my stove?
Q15. What are pellet stoves?
Q16. How often do I have to clean ashes from my stove?
Q17. What is the difference between a solid fuel and multi fuel stove?


Q1. How safe are gas fires?

All gas fires have to be fully safety tested and approved by a government recognised authority and carry the CE mark as your assurance that the appliance is safe. Installation must always comply with the manufacturer's instructions to ensure safe and trouble free operation.

Q2. What are flueless fires, how do they work and are they safe?

As the name suggests, flueless fires work without any need for a flue and are fully tested and approved in the same way as all other gas fire types. As with any product, if installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions flueless fires are perfectly safe although the manufacturers do not generally recommend them as the primary source of heat.

Q3. What are gel fires, how do they work and are they safe?

Gel fires use a non toxic odour free gelatinous substance to produce a flame effect and a relatively small amount of heat. They do not normally require a chimney or flue and can therefore be used where other fire types are not feasible.

Q4. Are convector fires better than non convector fires?

Convector fires are usually more thermally efficient than non convector types resulting in a higher heat output and/or lower running costs. Convector fires incorporate a heat exchanger to harness heat that might otherwise be lost up the chimney or flue. Consequently convector fires are usually more expensive to buy than non convector types and usually use less gas for the visual flame effect than non convector types.

Q5. Are living flame fires more expensive to run that other types?

The running costs for the various gas fire types available vary significantly so it's important to decide whether you want optimum efficiency (the most heat for your money), a balance between efficiency and visual effect or the best available visual effect.

Q6. I don't like the logs, coals or pebbles on my new gas fire. Can I change them?

Definitely not! When a gas fire is tested and receives its CE mark, it has been tested and approved with a specific fuel type and arrangement and any change to this could seriously affect the way the fire works. Any guarantee provided by the manufacturer or installer will be invalidated if the fuel is changed or the arrangement altered.

Q7. What are the artificial coals, logs or pebbles made from?

Many of the simulated coals, logs and pebbles are made from refractory ceramic fibres (RCF's) which vary in composition but are non hazardous. The dies and stains used to colour them are also non toxic but, as with any man made material, care should be taken to ensure that small children and pets cannot attempt to eat them.

Q8. How often do I have to change the coals on my coal effect gas fire?

All gas fires should be checked and, if necessary, serviced annually. Your engineer will advise you if the coals, logs or pebbles need replacing and will be able to assist in obtaining the correct replacements. Generally the artificial fuel will last for many years although this will clearly depend on usage.

Q9. What happens if waste paper is thrown on my gas fire?

You should not throw any waste paper or debris on your gas fire and should discourage guests from similar action. If your fire has been used as an ashtray or similar you should check the user's instructions for the fire or seek the advice of an engineer.

Q10. I have a gas fired back boiler with a gas fire on the front. Can I change the fire without changing the boiler?

No. Most gas fire and back boiler combinations are designed to work together and the gas fire is usually an integral part of the back boiler. You should seek the advice of the manufacturer or an engineer who can advise you if there are any fire replacement options.

Q11. How do I operate a gas or electric fire. Do I need to bend down?

For some models you do have to bend down to operate controls at hearth level. Many gas fires however have options for controls at the top of the casing, wall switching and full function remote control.

Q12. If I have a remote control fire do I need an electricity supply?

It depends on the type of remote control you have selected. Some remote controls are self powered by batteries and other types require a mains supply but we have a large range of gas fires that are battery operated rather than mains.

Q13. Can I still use my power flue gas fire if there's a power cut?

No. Power flue gas fires will only work if there is a power supply to the fan. All power flue fires are designed to automatically turn off the gas if the power fails.

Q14. 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 than 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. Please be aware that most of London does not allow the burning of wood or coal and can only use smokeless fuel. However there are a range of stoves which are approved for wood burning in smoke control areas.

Q15. 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.

Q16. 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.

Q17. 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 Q14).



Heating your room


Q1. Does this fire give off heat?
Q2. How much heat do I require for my room?
Q3. Does all the heat go up the chimney?


Q1. Does this fire give off heat?

Manufacturers of fires and stove provide detail of outputs in their literature and are usually happy to provide further advice on the telephone or via their website. It's worth noting that manufacturer's literature often quotes the maximum output with the fire or stove burning continuously so an allowance should always be made for this and the time taken for your fire or stove to reach its optimum operating temperature.

Q2. 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 fire or 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.

Q3. Does all the heat go up the chimney?

The efficiency of a fire or stove usually indicates how much heat is lost up the chimney or flue. If a fire 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. Flueless fires and gel fires are effectively 100% efficient.



Rules and Regulations


Q1. Do I have to get planning or building permission for my new fireplace?
Q2. Can I install a gas fire or stove myself?
Q3. How long does it take to install a new fireplace?
Q4. If I order my new fireplace today, how long will I have to wait?
Q5. What can I do if I don't have a gas supply near my fireplace?
Q6. Do I have to have a CORGI fitter to build a fireplace?
Q7. What qualification should a stove installer have?


Q1. Do I have to get planning or building permission for my new fireplace?

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 CORGI registered installer. Please seek the advice of your retailer as specific 'approval' requirements vary from one local authority to another.

Q2. Can I install a gas fire or stove myself?

No. It is illegal to install any gas appliance yourself unless you are a CORGI registered installer. All gas appliances must be installed by a competent person such as a CORGI registered installer and failure to do so may leave you open to prosecution and could also invalidate the manufacturer's guarantee.

Q3. How long does it take to install a new fireplace?

Installation time for a new fireplace will obviously reflect the amount of work that has to be done but for most installations it will take no longer than a day.

Q4. If I order my new fireplace today, how long will I have to wait?

This all depends if your items are in stock with our suppliers, if not some items could take up to 8 weeks. Gas fires generally take 2-3 weeks to order. Bespoke or special products usually take longer than standard products.

Q5. What can I do if I don't have a gas supply near my fireplace?

Before selecting and purchasing a gas appliance it is always advisable to have a fireplace survey. If a gas supply needs to be piped to the fireplace the cost of doing this, needs to be added to the fireplace cost. The viability of the whole project can then be established.

Q6. Do I have to have a CORGI fitter to build a fireplace?

No. There is no legal requirement for a fireplace (not a gas appliance) to be fitted by a CORGI registered installer. Our fireplace fitters are all HETAS registered. It is not therefore unusual for the fireplace to be fitted by one fitter and the gas fire or stove to be fitted by an engineer who calls separately.

Q7. What qualification should a stove installer have?

If it is a gas stove then the engineer should be CORGI registered and for Solid fuel and Multifuel stoves the engineer should be HETAS registered.