How old is your house?
If your property was built pre the early 1900’s, your fireplace and chimney can be a lot harder to find. The walls tended to be thick, and the fireplace and chimney was incorporated into the wall space, therefore identifying old fireplaces in properties repairs and renovations have taken place may require a little detective work.
The best bet is to get outside and look for the chimney heads and pots. By simply counting each pot, you should be able to understand how many fireplaces there are within the rooms and floors below. 2 pots = 2 fireplaces, 2 storey house = more likely 1 fireplace each floor, or possibly two on the ground floor.
Houses built in the 1930’s and up to more recent times, are simpler in construction terms, and with thinner walls, the chimney and fireplace is often contained within a ‘chimney-breast’. This will very often project into the room, making its presence much more obvious.
Can I use my existing fireplace to install a stove?
In essence, yes. The construction of most existing fireplaces will allow for the installation of different types and sizes of stoves, but they do have their limitations.
Older properties do tend to have larger constructed fireplaces and bigger flue passages within the chimney. The construction can be harder to modify, but because of the preference for larger fireplaces back in the day, the recess, into which to install a stove should require less structural alteration to open it up into a useable space to install a stove.
Typically a stove requires at least 150mm either side, 300mm above and 75mm behind to allow for the free movement of air. Once cleared out, older fireplaces can average 910mm x 910mm height and width, with average depth of around 350mm, most 4KW to 8KW stoves will fit within an opening of this size.
What about the chimney?
An existing fireplace, certainly one that is still in use, is likely to have a ‘working’ chimney. Nearly all ‘existing’ chimneys built in Scotland prior to the millennium, were built to suit an open fire. Even those built more recently and lined with clay liners, may not get the best out of your stove. As stoves have become more efficient, it has become more and more important, even critical, that the chimney is designed and built to a suitable high standard.
You are going to keep hearing this from us, but “your stove is only ever as good as your flue”.
There is no fireplace or chimney.
This is not necessarily a problem. To have a stove, you will of course need to build a chimney or install a ‘twin wall’ flue system. If you are building a new house or an extension, come and talk to us as early as possible. Bring your plans and drawings and let us help you ensure the stove and flue are in a suitable position. A poorly sited chimney can ruin even the best stove.
A flue system or chimney will always have the best chance of working properly where it terminates above the ‘highest point of your highest’ roof. It needs to achieve this by taking the simplest vertical route, avoiding bends or offsets, unless absolutely necessary. Any such bend can be of no greater angle than 45° off the vertical, and as a ‘rule of thumb’ the flue can only travel at that angle for no more than 20% of the total height of the flue. With this in mind, you will appreciate it can be more difficult to install a flue system or chimney in an existing property.
There is always a relatively simple alternative to consider. We now have a great range of gas-fired stoves. These look great and the balanced flue options allow installation in a number of locations that wood or multi-fuel stoves would not suit.
It is also important to bear in mind some practical issues when choosing your ‘style’. For example, a design feature of most contemporary stoves is that they heat by convection, moving the warmed air away from the stove and creating a more even spread of heat throughout a room. This can suit modern, well-insulated buildings where there is little natural air movement. But another benefit this offers is that these contemporary stoves have lower surface temperatures, in particular the side and rear panels, thus allowing the stove to be located closer to combustible materials. This makes installation easier and can often save space.