Most people accept that there is an order in which to do certain things. So, what about choosing a wood burning stove? When in the ‘stove shopping’ process should you fall in love with a particular make and model?
The Common Mistake When Choosing a Wood Burning Stove
Choosing a wood burning stove prior to a survey can be a costly mistake. There are plenty of stove shops in Aberdeen and it can be tempting to pop in and – invariably – think, “oooh, I like that one”. Stove shops certainly have their place; it’s great being able to see and touch a stove before committing to buy. However, visiting a stove shop or flicking through brochures before you’ve taken professional advice can lead to heartache and additional cost.
Start with A Survey
At Goval Stoves, our first meeting with potential clients is at their home sat in the very room they want to heat. We offer a free stove survey and design consultation to help our customers understand what is viable and what is not. Some considerations are:
- Is there an existing chimney? What condition is it in and can we line it with a 5” or 6” liner?
- How would we route a twin-wall flue system if there is no chimney?
- What size of stove does the room require?
- Where can we position the stove to comply with the building regulations?
- Is there an existing constructional hearth?
- What size of inglenook can we form?
- To achieve the desired ‘look’ what are the material and labour costs?
No two homes are the same and the list of considerations that can impact on the viability or price of a project is endless. The cost of the stove is just a part of the overall project. Hearths, fireplaces, flues, installation time, structural works, and decorative options all contribute to the final price. However, a survey at the start of the process can identify potential issue and costs. Thereafter, you can choose a stove to meet the requirements of your home and budget.
What Can Go Wrong If You Choose Your Wood Burning Stove First?
The list of potential problems is long, but the following are some of the common issues arising from jumping ahead with a stove purchase:
Incorrect Stove Sizing
Clients who rush ahead before taking professional advice often buy a stove that is too powerful. An 8kW stove in a room best suited to a 5kW stove will operate inefficiently (or be unbearably hot), will consume more fuel, and will require a dedicated air supply. A stove that is too small for the room won’t provide the level of comfort you desire.
Limited or Difficult Flue Options
We’ve already discussed whether you need to line your chimney in a previous blog post. Lining a chimney can become tricky if you have already bought, for example, a Burley Hollywell stove. The Hollywell is an exceptional stove, however, it has a 6” flue outlet on the top only. Structural work to access the flue outlet at the top of the stove will increase the project complexity and cost. Even worse, the project could grind to a halt if a 6” liner won’t go down the chimney.
Problems Complying with Distance to Combustibles Regulations
Stove manufacturers state the required separation distance between their stove and combustible materials. To comply with the building regulations, there can be absolutely nothing combustible within the distance specified by the manufacture. You could face problems if you buy a stove with a 450mm clearance and a lovely honed slate teardrop hearth to corner mount it. Plasterboard, which is not A1 Fire Rated, is classified as combustible. It goes without saying that timber framing behind the plasterboard is also combustible. To position the stove as you desire, you would need to cut out the plasterboard and timber frame and replace it with metal framing and fireboard at additional cost. A corner stove with a distance to combustibles allowance of 150mm or less solves this problem.
The Stove Doesn’t Fit
Homeowners with an existing chimney and fireplace often choose to have it “dug out” to form an inglenook. Original fireplaces vary greatly in design and construction but most have some easy to remove non-load bearing materials . However, labour time and material costs can spiral quickly when the dig out interferes with the structural fabric of the building. Usually, the dig out is restricted to the width, height, and depth that you can readily achieve without extensive structural works. If the stove doesn’t physically fit into the recess a restocking fee may be payable to return it.
You Might Miss Out on A Great Stove Deal
A survey of your home answers many questions and allows you to tailor your stove purchase more carefully. Moreover, stove installers often get generous trade discounts on stove RRP’s which they may pass onto the customer. Goval Stoves adopt this approach and can usually beat any internet price on the likes of Stovax, Nordpeis, Varde, Burley, Broseley, and Aarrow stoves. In a recent case, a customer fell in love with a Burley Hollywell but was, reluctantly, ready to order a cheaper stove. We are quite happy to fit stoves bought from the internet or other retailers. However, our customer was over the moon when we supplied the Hollywell at 25% off RRP and within budget.
Consider Breaking the Project into Phases
If you have an existing chimney it can be a great idea to split the installation process into two phases. A survey and design consultation can often establish enough of the facts to allow you to purchase the right stove with confidence. This is nearly always the case with stoves that require a twin-wall flue system. However, with an existing chimney, a non-evasive survey can only reveal so much. The best approach, ideally, is to undertake the demolition work first and to choose a stove once all the facts are known.
Setting your heart on a stove too early in the process can create numerous headaches and additional cost. A hastily purchased stove can end up costing more if you need to spend more money and time to achieve a successful installation. Request a survey of your property first to eliminate many of these pitfalls. Be particularly cautious if you feel pressured into committing to a stove purchase prior to a survey. Any reputable stove installer will be happy to undertake a survey and provide advice free of charge. Walk away if you are asked to pay for this service up front. Clearly identify your needs and set a budget before visiting shops or thumbing through stove brochures to choose your ideal stove.