Home Is Where The Hearth Is

15th November 2008

There’s nothing like a roaring fire for creating an atmosphere of warmth and comfort – but even if you can’t have the real thing, there are still plenty of options for creating the illusion. Follow our tips for planning and buying a fireplace, and you’ll soon see that home really is where the hearth is.

1. Check the type of fire you can have

The first decision when buying a fireplace is the fuel source, and there are six main types of fire available.
i. Solid fuel – wood, coal, logs etc; gives the best heat, but may be restricted in some areas now.
ii. Natural gas – offers the closest resemblance to a solid fuel fire (but with much less mess!); not quite as much heat.
iii. LPG gas – the same principal as natural gas, but bottled rather than piped.
iv. Powerflue – This innovative idea offers the gas option to homes where there is no chimney to expel the smoke and fumes. Powerflues are installed on an outside wall and use a fan to expel the smoke and fumes. Offers good heat, and a satisfying visual experience.
v. Gel – This clever and relatively new fuel source offers a small decorative fire with little or no need of smoke expulsion.
vi. Electric – minimal heat, but a pleasant effect; useful where other fuel sources are restricted or impossible.

2. Check your chimney

If you opt for solid fuel or gas, you need to ascertain the state of the chimney and which ‘class’ yours is suitable for.
This is the technical bit. Fireplaces come in four types: Class 1, Class 2, pre-cast flue and powerflue. A Class 1 fire requires a flue diameter of 7” or more. Class 1 chimneys can normally be identified by a chimney stack on the outside of the house. A Class 2 fire requires a flue diameter of 5”. Class 2 chimneys can normally be identified by a chimney stack or a 5” steel flue liner. You should also check to ensure you have a chimney breast.
Pre-cast flues are found on relatively new houses and can be identified by a ridge vent terminal on the top course of tiles on your home. A pre-cast flue restricts the fireplace styles available, but there is still a respectable choice.
A Powerflue, as mentioned, is used in a house with none of the above, and is generally more expensive than any other fire.

3. Are you in a smokeless zone?

If you plan to use solid fuel, check to ensure your home is not within a smokeless zone. In a smokeless zone, by law, you are not permitted to burn fuel which gives off smoke. However smokeless fuels are now widely available, and gas still remains a viable alternative.

4. Do you need your chimney swept?

The short answer is yes. When you move into a house, or decide to invest in a new fireplace, it’s always worth having the chimney swept if it has been used for solid fuel before or if it has not been used for a long time. This ensures a good clean fire, no unwanted soot in the room – and no birds’ nests on the fire.

5. Choose the right size

If you have a chimney breast where you plan to put your new fireplace, ensure you measure the entire width. This is crucial – you don’t want one that is too big (or too small) for your chimney breast!

6. Choose the fireplace that suits you!

Once you’ve decided on the fuel source, know your chimney breast size and have the chimney sweep booked, it’s time to start looking for your fireplace…
With various different styles available it can be challenging to find exactly what you want. Online research is an easy way to find the widest selection of fireplaces available, and may offer competitive prices, but for service and advice nothing can beat a visit to a local retailer who has specialist knowledge, and the ability to answer all your questions.

And finally… Find a good fitter

Employing a good fitter is very important. Ensure your fitter is either Corgi Registered (for gas) or Hetas Qualified (for solid fuel), so that your fireplace is fitted to the highest standards and in accordance with the relevant regulations.

Find Your Local