Sticky, black liquid in woodburners

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Have you found a sticky, black liquid in your wood-burning stove? Perhaps the consistency reminds of tar, and that’s because that is exactly what it is.

You might spotted it running down the inside walls of your appliance or settled somewhere in the firebox.

If you have seen this black liquid, it indicates that you are not operating your stove correctly and, in particular, burning unsuitable fuel.

Usually tar is created as a byproduct of burning logs on a woodburner when the moisture level of the wood is too high. Since energy is being wasted evaporating water, the stove doesn’t get up to high enough temperature, which leads to cooler gases going up your chimney. Since they are cooler, they are prone to condense when they touch the metal of the flue liner.

The condensed gases will either solidify on the inside or the flue or drip back down into the stove in the form of the sticky liquid. Whenever the tar does get the chance to solidify it will turn into creosote. A build-up of creosote in your stove system increases the risk of chimney fires.

How to stop a sticky, black liquid appearing in your woodburner

There are a few ways to stop the black liquid appearing in your wood-burning stove. The first is to ensure that the only logs you burn are ones that have been correctly seasoned and have low moisture content. You can use a moisture meter to ensure this is the case.

Ensuring there is a strong draw up your chimney, operating your stove at full capacity and ensuring your room is well ventilated will also minimise the chance of flue gases condensing in your chimney.

It is also important to get your chimney swept regularly. This will remove any residual creosote that has built up in your chimney and prevent is seeping back down your chimney and into the stove.

Click here to read more about tar condensation.

Help! I’ve melted something on my woodburner

Boiler Stoves

Wood-burning stoves are very hot. This much we know.

But sometimes people underestimate just how hot they are. We hear tales of people trying to dry clothes by draping them over the stove in the same way they would a radiator.

Trainers, plastic cups and toys are among the items that have been melted on wood-burning stoves with some degree of regularity. Whether, as mentioned above, this was done deliberately with the intention of drying the item in question or whether the accidentally came into contact with the stove or was left sitting on a cold stove and forgotten about, the end result is usually the same.

That is that your lovely wood-burning stove body will now have a nasty blemish in the form of a melted and charred piece of fabric or plastic.

If you find yourself in that position, you will no doubt be keen to find a way to restore your stove to its former glory as soon as possible. That may or may not be realistic, but you can certainly have a go at getting it looking as good as possible.

Follow these tips to attempt to remove the melted material from your woodburner and get it looking like new again.

Removing melted plastic or material from a woodburner

The best way to remove the foreign object from the surface of your wood-burning stove is to rub down the affected area with wire wool. This will hopefully ensure that the melted item is worn away from the surface.

Of course, it is likely that you will also remove some of the stove paint in the process. That leads to the next step, which is to touch up the area on which you’ve used the wire wool with some stove paint.

Click here to buy stove paint.

Smells from wood-burning stoves

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There is nothing nicer than the smell of a wood-burning stove in use, particularly if you’re burning a particularly fragrant wood.

But if your stove starts producing unusual or unpleasant smells it an become a bit disconcerting.

In this article, we will seek to pick out some of the more common unusual woodburner smells to help you to diagnose that pong and determine whether or not it is something you ought to be worrying about.

Egg smell from woodburner
If your stove is producing an eggy smell, that could be due to the sulphurous content of whatever you are burning. For instance, some coals contain relatively high levels of sulphur. This smell might be particularly obvious when you’re clearing out the ashes.

Chemical or paint smell from woodburner
A chemical smell from your wood-burning stove is normal when the appliance is new. This is because the stove paint still needs to cure. Curing is when liquids within the paint start to evaporate when the stove is first heated to the extreme temperatures required for a wood-burning stove. This causes the chemical structure of the paint to change, leaving just the desired finish on the stove, but also creating a paint smell. This smell should go away after the stove has been used three or four times.

If a chemical smell continues beyond that, it could be that something – most likely paint or oil – is burning off further up the stove and flue system.

If you’re burning treated wood, which is not a good idea, that is another possible cause of a chemical smell.

Smoke smell from woodburner
Given that a wood-burning stove involves burning fuel, a degree of smoke smell is inevitable. If you feel the smell is getting stronger or is seeping further into your home it could be indicative of a problem. It could mean that your chimney needs to be swept, that there is a leak in the flue or chimney, or that there is a problem with the draw, which could be caused by conditions outside your home or by a lack of ventilation within your home.

Soot smell from woodburner
As with a smoke smell, a smell of suit from your woodburner could indicate a need to have your chimney swept. It might also suggest that the wood you’re burning is not sufficiently seasoned and has a high moisture content. The soot smell is indicative of a creosote build-up in your chimney.

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61% of people say their wood-burning stove has saved them money

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Does a wood-burning stove really save you money? Perhaps the best way of judging is by drawing upon an independent piece of research by a trusted organisation.

Consumer advice organisation Which? carried out a survey in which it asked its members who own wood-burning stoves whether their appliance had helped their finances.

Of those surveyed by Which? in December 2014, 61% of wood-burning stove owners said getting their stove had helped them to save money.

It is worth considering that respondents were only asked whether they thought their stove had saved money, so the results are only based on their perception and not necessarily any factual basis. However, given that all those surveyed are members of Which?, it is safe to assume that they paid closer attention to the success of their purchase than a random cross-section of society would have.

By the same taken, some of those respondents might have factored in the cost of buying and installing their stove and therefore deemed that it had not yet delivered a net saving in comparison to avoiding that outlay and continuing to pay their old heating bills. So, perhaps over time the figure would prove to be even higher than 61%.

Key factors

It is worth bearing in mind that the savings made to heating bills have a lot to do with the way in which the stove is operated. The more efficiently it is used, the greater the savings that can be made.

The type of wood your choose to burn, the degree to which the logs are seasoned, the frequency with which you refuel the appliance, the quality of insulation in your home, the way you operate the air vents and how clear your chimney are among the key factors in this regard.

Click here to learn more about efficient use of a wood-burning stove.

Choosing the right woodburner to survive a zombie apocalypse

Survive Zombie Apocalypse

As we all know, zombie apocalypse is one of the major threats facing the world right now, so it is important to be prepared for such an eventuality.

One item that is going to come in very handy in the event of a zombie takeover sweeping the country is a wood-burning stove. Two of the key things that you will need that might not be available to you via your current methods: light and heat. Helpfully, the heat and light provided by a woodburner is not dependent on any external infrastructure. So, if you can access fuel, you will be able to keep yourself warm and formulate your cunning survival plan outside of daylight hours.

Let’s look at some of the factors that might influence your decision when choosing the right wood-burning stove to help you survive a zombie apocalypse.

Hotplates

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Without people to staff power stations and networks, it will not be long before you have no electricity or gas to rely upon. A trip to the supermarket is probably too risky, so one-pot meals at home will be order of the day. Choosing a stove with hotplates will make it easier to cook your squirrel stew or one of your MRE stash. Something like the Evergreen Ashley 5kW (see above), which has two hotplate, is ideally suited the job. You could even make yourself a cuppa at the same time.

And with water supplies likely to be cut off and/or contaminated as treatment plants grind to a halt, your hotplate will give you an easy way to keep a steady supply of sterile water.

Emissions

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The last thing you want to be doing in the case of a zombie apocalypse is drawing undue attention to yourself, so you will want your woodburner to be emitting the minimum amount of smoke. The best way of doing that is by burning dried, seasoned wood. You can ensure you’re doing that by having a moisture meter to hand to check on the water content of your logs. The lower the moisture content, the more efficient the burn and the less smoke created. To further reduce the risk of emissions that might reveal your location, you might also opt for an appliance that is DEFRA exempt for use in smoke control areas, which will have passed tests to prove the cleanliness of its burn. Something like the Mazona Crete 5kW (see above) would do the trick.

Output

Zombie apocalypse can strike at any time, even in the depths of winter. Make sure your woodburner has a decent enough heat output to comfortable warm your hideout space (a remote place in the countryside is best, if you can manage that). Use our stove size calculator to ensure your stove is big enough.

Heat and comfort

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Perhaps getting a decent bath and warmth throughout the house will drop down your list of priorities in the event that zombies are on the rampage… but they don’t have to. If you’ve opted for a boiler stove, your woodburner will provide hot water and heat to radiators in the property. This will make for a more comfortable existence as you’re hunkered down trying to avoid the living dead. An appliance like the Arizona Nevada 20kW boiler stove would be ideal.

Things all woodburner owners learn the hard way

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Ashes stay hot for a really long time
All wood-burning stove rookies quickly find out why old style dustbins used to say ‘No Hot Ashes’ on the lid. Hours and hours after you thought the fire had gone out, they will still burn through anything they get a chance to.

Your woodburner is also really hot
The very purpose of a wood-burning stove is to provide heat to our home. At its most basic level, it is a metal box with a fire inside – and we all know that metal conducts heat. Yet human curiosity demands we – at least for the briefest of milliseconds – touch our stove to find out: “Can it really be that hot?” The answer is always yes – and you never touch the stove again without the aid of a stove glove.

Birds are clumsy
If you don’t have the foresight to install a chimney cowl at the same time as your woodburner, you will quickly discover that, despite having the power of flight at their disposal, birds have a habit of finding their way into stoves.

Smoke is indiscriminate
If you’re not operating your stove correctly and ensuring there is a good draw up the chimney, the smoke generated by your appliance does not really mind whether it goes upwards or outwards. This lesson is usually learnt when inhaling a couple of lungs’ worth of the byproduct of a slumbering stove.

Logs are irresistible
Spot a log – wherever you happen to be – and you will immediately start plotting the logistics of how you might be able to get it home to your stove. You woodburner will bring out a forager’s instinct.

Did you learn something the hard way when you first got your woodburner? Leave a comment below to let us know.

Gr8Fires Summer Holiday

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The Gr8Fires office will be closed from Monday, July 11, until Sunday, July 17, for a summer holiday.

If you need an item urgently, please place your order before 11am this Friday, July 8, for same-day dispatch.

Any orders placed after this date will be dispatched on Monday, July 18. Of course, you can continue to shop on Gr8Fires.co.uk while the office is closed, but orders will not be processed until the office reopens on July 18.

Our phone lines will also be closed throughout the period the office is closed, so please give us a call before 3.45pm tomorrow, Friday, July 8, if you need to talk to us.

If you’re in a hurry for your order, click here to shop now.

What is overfiring a wood-burning stove?

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If you’ve been reading up on operating a wood-burning stove, you might have seen people advising you to avoid overfiring. So, what is overfiring?

Overfiring is essentially the process of operating your stove at too high a temperature. Woodburners are supposed to operate at high temperatures, but there are optimum temperature levels and going above them can result in damage being caused to your stove. In particular, the stove body and the internal parts are susceptible to becoming warped if your woodburner is being overfired.

What causes overfiring in a wood-burning stove?

To overfire your woodburner, you must be operating it incorrectly. In other words, something you are doing is causing the stove to burn hotter than it has been designed to burn, so the prime suspects are:

Too much oxygen

Allowing too much oxygen into your firebox can result in overfiring. For instance, leaving the door open, having the vents open too wide or operating the stove with faulty stove rope in place could all result in too much oxygen getting to the fames.

Too much fuel

Another possibility is that too much fuel is being added to your stove. This might result in a fire that is too intense and therefore cause damaged to the appliance.

Avoiding overfiring with your woodburner

The easiest way to ensure that you are not overfiring your wood-burning stove is to install a stove pipe thermometer. This will measure the temperature of gases leaving your woodburner and help your to ascertain whether your stove is being operated within its optimum levels or if you are overfiring it.

Equally, it will show you if the stove is not being operated at a high enough temperature, which results in an efficient and environmentally unfriendly burn, fuel being wasted and creosote build-up in your chimney.

Click here to buy a stove pipe thermometer.

Getting your woodburner in place for the post-Brexit financial meltdown

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Following the surprise news that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union in the in-out referendum, the world’s financial markets are responding in precisely the manner expected in the case of a Brexit vote.

While the politicians and bankers frantically try to get to grips with that, it is time for you to do the only thing in your power right now: prepare for the worst and get a woodburner installed ahead of the impending financial meltdown. Here is our (slightly tongue-in-cheek) advice for doing just that.

Buy your woodburner now

With the £1,000 you had set aside for a summer holiday budget now only enough to buy your bucket and spade in France or Spain, it’s time to take back control of your spending and invest that particular European budget on your new stove.

Heat output

Our stove size calculator will help you determine the correct heat output to ensure that the warmth from your woodburner is not overpowering in your bunker.

Four-day heat

Using the central heating when you’re at home around your new three-day working week will really push up energy bills and we can’t afford that now. Your humble woodburner, accompanied by your chopped up wardrobe and dining table, will stave off the cold for the first few weeks at least.

Energy bills

Watch your energy company’s profits go the same way as its share price as you shun the central heating in favour of heating autonomy with your new stove.

Hotplates

Opt for a woodburner with hotplates on top, such as the Evergreen Ashley, so that you can conveniently heat your canned produce and ration packs while also heating your home. You will also be able to boil rainwater for your weekly bath and cup of tea.

There you have it: our tips for woodburner-assisted survival in a post-EU landscape. Click here to see some of the appliances you might like to consider.

England vs Slovakia: the wood-burning stove edition

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England’s national football team face Slovakia this evening in their final group game of Euro 2016. Ahead of the match, we thought we’d have a little England vs Slovakia game of our own (with a wood-burning stove twist, of course).

Representing England is GBS (Great British Stoves), whose appliances are manufactured on these shores. They are going up against Slovakian brand Thorma.

The lineups

GBS are going with their biggest stove for the crucial match: the GBS Mariner 7kW multi-fuel stove.
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Thorma are deploying the Thorma Andorra 7.5kW Wood Burning Stove.
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Heat output

There’s very little to choose between the two sides here. The GBS Mariner claims a heat output of 7kW, while the Thorma Andorra is 7.5kW. That makes both suitable to use in medium to large rooms. Use our stove size calculator to check.

Size

The Slovakians have the edge here. The Andorra 7.5kW is designed as a freestanding appliance. At 1100mm high, 510mm wide and 455m deep, it is much larger than the Mariner 7kW, which is 507mm high, 406mm wide and 376mm deep. But the English stove has the advantage that it is suitable to be used in a fireplace.

Style

Both appliances offer a sleek, modern design. The GBS Mariner retains some tradition in that it still boasts the traditional stove silhouette, while the Thorma Andorra has an unusual cylindrical shape. Both look great in the modern home, so it’s just down to personal preference here.

Price

England take the lead late on. With the GBS Mariner 7kW currently available for just £350 (down from its regular price of £540), they have a big advantage here. The Thorma Andorra offers good value at £992.32 (down from £1,653.85), but cannot compete with the heavy discount on the GBS stove.

Final score

A tight game that could have gone either way, but England and the GBS Mariner 7kW edge it due to that bargain price tag. Well played Slovakia and the Thorma Andorra 7.5kW – a great effort from an excellent stove.

Click here for a closer look at the GBS Mariner 7kW.

Click here for a closer look at the Thorma Andorra 7.5kW.