Why it’s a good idea to light your wood-burning stove in summer


There are two main reasons to light your wood-burning stove during the summer months. The first is that, given the British weather, it is very likely that you will need the warmth the stove generates nearly as much as you do in the winter.

(Half)-joking aside, the other reason to light your stove even if it isn’t really needed during the warmer weather is to avoid your appliance succumbing to rust and corrosion. That increased risk of corrosion is caused by our friend the British weather and, in particular, summer showers.

All through the year, rainwater gets into your stove system via your flue opening. The amount of water that gets in depends on the amount of rainfall, how exposed your chimney is and whether you have a chimney cowl fitted.

But regardless of those factors, in winter – when your woodburner is in regular use – the heat generated by the stove evaporates any rainwater that finds its way into the flue and the stove itself.

That’s not the case in summer when although, in theory, significantly less rain is falling, there is nothing to evaporate it.

Allowed to sit until your woodburner is in regular use once again, this moisture can start to cause corrosion and rust to your appliance.

How to stop rust in your woodburner

The way to avoid this rust and corrosion is to occasionally light your woodburner throughout the summer.

Even having a small fire for a short period of time will allow any moisture gathered in the stove system to evaporate, which will reduce the risk of the stove rusting.

It is worth doing at regular intervals during the warmer weather and it is probably worth making extra effort to light your stove if you know there’s been a decent amount of rainfall over the past few days.

Here are some tips if it’s too late and you’ve already spotted some rust.

Replacing fire bricks and stove liners

vermiculite stove liner

Stove liners, which are often known as fire bricks, are the removable panels that sit against the left side, right side and back of the firebox of your wood-burning stove.

Their purpose is to protect the stove’s metal bodywork from the intense heat generated by the appliance. Given that the flames are instead licking against the stove liner, these panels are susceptible to wear and tear and may need to be replaced.

What are fire bricks and stove liners made from?

cast iron fire bricks

Depending on your appliance, your stove liner will be made from heat reflecting vermiculite, traditional refractory clay fire bricks (which is why the brick name has stuck even for those made of other materials) or metal (which is usually the same material as the stove is made from.

You can see examples of vermiculite and cast iron stove liners in the images above. Clay fire bricks are no longer in widespread use because the other options are much easier and more cost effective to transport.

When do I need to replace my fire bricks?

As we’ve already established, the reason for using fire bricks is to protect the stove. So, if your fire bricks are damaged to the extent that the bodywork of your stove is exposed directly to the flames from your fire, it is definitely time to replace them.

If you don’t, you risk causing permanent damage to your stove’s bodywork, which is much more difficult and much more expensive to repair or replace.

How do I replace my fire bricks?

Since stove manufacturers expect you to ruin the fire bricks – that is what they’re there for, after all – stoves are very easy to come across. You just need to make sure you know the exact model of your woodburner to ensure you buy the spare stove liners that are right for your appliance.

Click here to visit our stove spares section and choose your stove manufacturer to find replacement fire bricks for your woodburner.

5 worryingly common wood-burning stove installation mistakes


At Gr8Fires.co.uk, we don’t perform stove installations. But given that we sell them, we keep our ear to the ground to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the installation industry.

Unfortunately, that means we often get to hear of when things haven’t gone as well as anticipated. With that in mind, here are five common mistakes that are made when wood-burning stoves are being installed.

1. Chipboard being used as a register plate

The register plate is the panel that sites at the opening of the chimney. It seals the chimney to ensure that, in the event of a leak from the flue or if there is no flue liner, the gases that are released are unable to escape straight back into your living room. And it also serves to catch anything that falls down the chimney.

Register plates are most commonly made from steel. But, more often than you would like to think, we hear horror stories of cowboy installers using chipboard instead. This contravenes building regulations regarding the distance between the flue pipe and combustible materials. Even aside from the regulations, it is clearly very dangerous.

2. Upside down flue liners

Aside from the inherent awkwardness of feeding something from your roof to your living room, installing the flue line is actually fairly easy to do. The only complication is ensuring that you get the liner the right way up at the outset.

Most flue liner come with arrows printed every 1.5metres on their outside wall. Remember, these arrows should always point up the chimney.

3. Potentially fatal leaks

Poor connections at any point in your stove system can lead to leaks that might have deadly consequences. Carbon monoxide is among the gases that are likely to seep into your home in the eventuality that you suffer a leak.

The best ways to avoid such consequences are to use a reputable, HETAS-approved installer, and, as required by law, use a carbon monoxide alarm as a safety net.

4. Problems behind the stove

Building regulations are very clear that all stoves must be fitted at least 50mm from the wall behind, further if the material behind the stove is combustible. Dodgy installers will often cut corners to make sure the stove goes in as easily as possible.

Indeed, some even provide a supposedly neat finish by using potentially combustible boards on the inner walls of a fireplace.

5. Failure to meet building regulations

If you stove installation hasn’t been performed by a HETAS-approved installer, the work needs to be signed off by your local authority’s building control department. Many people using a non-HETAS installer either neglect to get the insulation signed off – which makes it illegal and has implications for insurance claims, among other things – or find, when the building control officer visits, that the installation doesn’t meet building regulations.

Read more about the Building Regulations relating to wood-burning stove installations.

8 great lifehacks for wood-burning stove owners


Owning a wood-burning stove is fantastic: you can lower your heating bills, become more environmentally friendly and create a cosier home. But there is no doubting that woodburners can be labour-intensive at times.

While any work you put in towards operating your stove is usually rewarded in financial savings and the feeling of satisfaction once the appliance is in full flow, these great life hacks will make owning a woodburner easier.

1. Use the ashes to clean the stove glass

A couple of labour-intensive activities: emptying the ashes and cleaning the glass. Why not combine the two by using the ashes to clean the glass.

Dipping a piece of newspaper into cold ashes, then apply to your glass in a circular motion for an easy glass-cleaning shortcut.

2. Adopt a three-stage seasoning process

Ensure a more efficient burn and get your stove roaring more quickly by using a three-stage seasoning process. Seasoning your own wood saves a lot of money on buying seasoned wood from fuel suppliers. Once you’ve got the wood the three stages are: freshly-felled, air dry and house dry

3. Use a moisture meter

Check the moisture content of any piece of wood you’re considering burning to find out if it’s suitable for your woodburner. A meter costs less than £25 but has the potential to save you a fortune in fuel costs and stove parts. Have a closer look here.

4. Cook your dinner at the same time

After lighting your stove, reward yourself for the effort by having it cook tea for you. One-pot dishes are particularly well suited to being cooked on top of a woodburner.

Some appliances, like the Evergreen Ashley include hot-plates specifically for that reason.

5. Light the stove properly

This might seem obvious but if you’re spending time relighting your stove or watching it like a hawk in the minutes after lighting because it looks like it’s about to go out, you’re probably not lighting it well enough in the first place.

Lighting a stove properly at the first time saves a lot of time and annoyance. Follow these tips to get your stove roaring in no time.

6. Use a stove thermometer

It is possible to run your stove at too high a temperature, which can cause damage to it, or too low a temperature, which results in an inefficient burn. Avoid both of these problems by using a stove thermometer, which will inform you whether the appliance is at optimum temperature.

7. Leave the door when the stove is out of use

Leaving the door slightly open when the woodburner is out of use for extended periods will encourage air flow through the stove system, reducing the risk of corrosion and unnecessary expense on replacing parts.

8. Burn hardwood

As a rule of thumb, hardwoods will take longer to burn than softwoods because they are more dense. This means less time spent refuelling for you. Find out more.

Do you have some wood-burning stove lifehacks of your own? Feel free to leave them as a comment below.

Why has my wood-burning stove grate broken or warped?


Has the bottom grate on your wood-burning stove warped or broken? You might have spotted that a hole has formed in the metalwork or that the bars have warped and are bent further apart than they were previously.

If you spot that unspent fuel is dropping through the grate, this is a good indication that something is amiss.

So, what has caused this problem?

There are a few prime suspects:

Wear and tear

Starting with the least suspicious of those suspects: wear and tear. Your grate really does bear the brunt of the very high temperatures generated by your stove because it has the burning fuel sitting on it throughout.

Even though they are built to withstand these conditions, grates will eventually start to feel the effects of such severe punishment. If you’ve been using your woodburner for some time, don’t be surprised if the grate eventually needs to be replaced.

Burning the wrong fuel

One way to cause damage to the bottom grate is to use fuels other than those recommended by the manufacturer in your stove manual.

The people who make the stove have tested it thoroughly, so they know which fuels are safe to burn and which are likely to damage the appliance. Veering from their recommendations risks creating problems for the internal stove parts, including the grate.

Burning pet coke

This is effectively burning the wrong fuel, but pet coke deserves a special mention. That’s because, while you may believe you have followed your stove manufacturer’s guidelines, you might instead be burning pet coke if there is a particularly unscrupulous or careless person someone in the supply line for your fuel.

Pet coke sometimes becomes mixed with other coals. While these other coals might be perfectly fine to burn on your stove, pet coke is not and can cause damage to your appliance.

Overfiring your stove

Overfiring is when your stove is being operated at too high a temperature. This can be caused by adding too much fuel to your stove or by allowing too much oxygen to the fire (for instance, by leaving the door ajar or having the vents more open than they should be).

This can lead to extreme temperatures, which can warp and damage your grate. Use a stove thermometer to ensure you appliance is operated at optimum temperature.

Do you need a new bottom grate for a stove?

As we mentioned, the last thing you want is perfectly good fuel dropping through the grate without being burned.

Visit our stove spares section to find a new grate for your woodburner.

7 steps to buying a wood-burning stove


Step 1: Decide if you want a woodburner, multi-fuel stove or boiler stove

The first step to buying a wood-burning stove is deciding exactly what you want from your stove. Do you just want it to be able to burn wood? If so, a wood-burning stove is the right option. If you want to burn other fuels too, you will need a multi-fuel stove. And if you want an appliance that can also heat your radiators and water, you will want a boiler stove.

Step 2: Work out what size you need

The next stage in narrowing your choice of stoves is to decide on a specific size of stove you need. This will involve finding an appliance with a heat output suited to the size of room in which you will be installing the stove. You can use our stove size calculator to help with that.

Step 3: Set a budget

Wood-burning stoves are available for less than £200 and prices run into the thousands of pounds. It all depends what you want from your appliance in terms of size and design. Working out how much you want to spend will help to sharpen your focus as to the sort of stoves that are available to you. If the stove you want is a bit outside your current budget, finance options are available.

Step 4: Check the installation process

When setting your budget, remember that you will need some of your finances to install the stove as well as buy it. It is very hard to estimate precisely how much an installation will cost, but this free download will help you work out some installation costs. It is worth setting aside around £1,000 until you can get a HETAS-approved installer to give you a more accurate quotation for your property.

Step 5: Think about the design

Armed with all that information, you are now well placed to pick out an appliance that is both attainable and suitable. At this stage, you can start to think about whether you’d prefer a stove that is made from cast iron or steel, contemporary or traditional in style, free-standing or inset in design. Of course, you will also want a stove that is well-suited to your property and its decor.

Step 6: Buy your stove

You can now take the all-important step of buying a stove that ticks all the boxes for you.

Step 7: Await delivery

It’s time to welcome your new woodburner into your home. All Gr8Fires.co.uk stoves are delivered free on baskets over £300 to UK mainland address in three to five days. Find out more.