Useful Information for Fireplaces

Operation Of Your new Fireplace

The key to clean and efficient wood heating is not just installing an efficient fireplace; it is also operating the fireplace correctly. This means getting a good, hot fire going as quickly as possible and maintaining this for the heating period. This is relatively simple to do as long as fuel is sufficiently dry and the fireplace is lit and loaded correctly and well maintained. Efficient burning only occurs when adequate air is supplied to the fuel. This means that during starting and reloading, all air inlets must be fully open.

Setting Up The Fire

  • Remove any excess ash from previous operation, leaving just a 10mm bed of ash and any coals or un-burnt timber.
  • Lay a bed of screwed up newspaper or torn up cardboard pieces on top of the ash base in the fireplace.
  • Then cover this bed with wood kindling such as small twigs and branches, bark from gum or pine trees, and small shards of timber. If you have any doubt, you can also scatter a few firelighters to get the fire started.
  • Light the fire and once all the twigs are burning well, add some larger twigs and cut up branches. Once everything is fully ignited and a hot bed of coals has been established, you can then add large pieces of wood.
  • Leave air controls open for at least 20-30 minutes to start the fire burning. You can expect some smoke from your flue when you first start, but it should not last longer than 10-15 minutes.

Ongoing Operation

  • Most of our fireplaces burn better with 3 or 4 logs rather than just 1 or 2 logs. Logs should not be too big – 2 to 4kg for a 50cm log is typical.
  • Every time you add fuel to your fire, leave air controls open for 15-20 minutes to start wood burning properly, and then keep your fire burning at a steady rate.
  • To obtain complete burning, you need a high temperature and enough airflow so coals and flames glow brightly. Dark, smoldering wood and a lot of smoke are signs of poor and incomplete burning and insufficient air intake.
  • Never use petrol, oil, or kerosene to help light the fire. They could cause an explosion.
  • When cleaning out the ash always leave 10mm or so behind.

Overnight Burning

  • For overnight burning, load the heater at least half an hour before going to bed.
  • Only turn the air supply down to minimum once all the wood is charred (about 15-20 minutes) to avoid creosote problems.
  • Most fireplaces should still burn for several hours without difficulty and you will have far less creosote problems than if you fill the heater and turn it to slow-burn straight away. However, long periods of slow burning will always produce more creosote than burning on medium or high.
  • It will probably take you some time to get the “feel” of operating your fireplace for long periods. You might even find that once you have a good lighting method worked out and your house is well insulated you don’t need to burn overnight except on the coldest nights.

Buying Fuel

Place your orders early with a reputable fuel merchant. Be sure of what you are buying or collecting in firewood. Moisture content should be in the range of 12-20%. The best option is to buy in the summer months and stack in an air-dry mode, e.g. roof cover, open sides. See our Help section for more information.

In defined areas, firewood must be sold by weight, so don’t pay for excess weight in water. Elsewhere, firewood is often sold in volume, e.g. a cubic metre or in some cases, a cubic yard, i.e. cage, bin or loader bucket, etc.

Fuel Checks

  • Your fireplace should be serviced once a year and you should have your flue cleaned regularly by your local chimney sweep.
  • Creosote is a substance formed by solid fuel combustion. Creosote and resin build-up can cause flue fires.
  • Check the flue prior to each winter. Make it a habit to look outside and check your flue for smoke. If it is smoking excessively, you are wasting fuel and heat and may be causing unnecessary emissions. You need to increase the air supply to the fire. A little air avoids a lot of smoke.

Service and Maintenance Tips

  • Service your fireplace during spring or early summer. This minimises the corrosive effects of creosote residue and condensation during the off-season.
  • Check the condition of the heater and flue, door seals, baffles, etc.
  • Check for bird nests in or near the flue system in the roof cavity.
  • If loose insulation has been added to the ceiling, i.e., blow-in cellulose, etc., check carefully that none has built up in the flue cavity clearance area.
  • If unsure or you are unable to undertake these activities, get an early bird service call from an experienced installer/service person.