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The Log Burner Installation Reveal!

Log Burner Installation

Five years we've lived without heating. Five years with one single electric radiator moving from room to room with us as we move around the house. I kid you not. Central heating is something that's completely alien to us. Throughout the two houses we've owned - we've never had it. Why, you ask? Because we simply don't have enough money to have it installed as well as being able to renovate the rest of the house. It sounds so silly to decorate and do-up a house when some of more practical elements, like central heating aren't there. But that my friends, is something I'm willing to sacrifice for the sake of a nice looking cosy homely home. Okay - who am I kidding, it's obviously not going to be cosy unless I'm walking around wearing my duvet, but you get my drift, right? Feeling relaxed in a well put together, but colder home matters more to me than having a heated horrible dank smelly house waiting years to be able to change it.

I really don't want to spend my entire life freezing during the winter, longing for those summer days to arrive and basically wishing my life away. I want to enjoy the cold season, embrace chilly nights - and I just can't do that without any form of heating. Central heating, is out of the question. But there's more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak.

If you haven't guessed it by the title (and photo) - we're having a log burner! It's not going to be cheap, but it is going to be cheaper than central heating. We've been making huge steps towards installation day, saving money by doing all the prep work ourselves. So far, we've removed the old back boiler, installed a lintel, lined the chimney opening, and fitted a decorative hearth (see bottom of page for links!). All that's left now, is to actually fit the burner!

Why we're not DIYing the Installation

I haaaaate it when we don't do things DIY style. It makes me feel like a bit of failure, like I'm wasting money and like a real cop out. You absolutely can fit a log burner yourself, DIY style and we strongly considered it, but we decided against it for a few reasons....

Our chimney stack is not easy to reach
You cannot get a ladder up the back of the house, at all. This means we'd have to go up the front, climbing all the way over the roof (don't forget we'd be holding on to a 10m length of flue pipe whilst doing this!) and somehow reach the top of our very tall chimney stack without a direct ladder. Er - talk about awkward.

Fear of Heights/Falling
I do not have a fear of heights, but I do have a fear of standing on top of a roof aid-less. I mean, even if I harnessed myself up - I'm not sure I'd put a whole load of trust into it. Grant on the other hand, does have a fear of heights and had no intention of ever stepping onto our roof, if he could possibly avoid it. This meant neither of us were exactly jumping at the opportunity for this DIY.

Costs
When we do things, DIY style - people often think everything's for free. It's not - we still have to pay for the cost of materials (often at a higher price than trades) and in some circumstances, like this one - we'd have to pay for the building control sign off. The cost of this varies across councils, but in our area was over £300. The labour cost for a Hetas registered installer who can sign himself off on this job, was just £400. Do you see the temptation now?

Ease & Guarantees
It's always so much easier to get someone else to do the work. I thoroughly enjoyed our french doors being installed for us whilst I sat in my comfies, drinking tea and watching loose women (I'm a 50 year old lady at heart). And the best thing about it was that I knew the job would be done right, first time. If we were to have any problems (as we did) they would come back out and fix it right up for no extra cost (and they did!). This was the exact same scenario - I wouldn't have to worry about the flue falling down the chimney in months to come, or the fire cement cracking or whatever else.

Time
As always, DIY takes about ten times longer. I can't imagine how long this job would have taken us - Oh and I can already imagine us yelling at each other from the ground to the roof, not being able to hear one another in the wind and everything going pear shape, having to take hour long breaks to make up and go back to work. Sometimes when you just want to get things done in speedy time, the cost of a tradesmen is worth it. 

I think I've almost convinced myself we made the right decision again, so let's move on.

Installation Day

Since we've done all the prep work ourselves already, the only thing the fitters needed to do was remove the old flue, fit a new one and attach it to the log burner. Yes, it sounds so simple - why didn't we do it ourselves again? Of course, it's not quite that simple. Getting a 10m length of flue down a chimney is easier said than done, particularly when you're using a wide 6" flue - and of course, you've got to make sure it's not being damaged on the way down. Then there's the new chimney pot, cutting the steel register plate to size, fitting everything, adding fire cement and making sure it's all sealed correctly too. It took them a whole day, so lord knows how long it would have taken us.

The guys we used were brilliant - they were a son and dad team (NB Fires from Nottinghamshire, if you're interested) who had a great sense of humour, were very efficient and generally did a great job. They used a ladder at the front of the house to get onto the front of the roof and then climbed over to the other side. As for not being able to reach the chimney stack - I believe they took a separate smaller ladder up the bigger ladders to lean between the roof and chimney stack. I have absolutely no clue how we would ever have climbed up a ladder, carrying another ladder. It just baffles me! He did say our stack was particularly hard to get to, and he's been doing this for years.

They yelled to each other through the chimney whilst one shoved the flue down from the top of the stack and the other reached it from the bottom. I didn't take any photos of the installation process, purely because I didn't want to seem like a weirdo "hello, can I stick this camera in your face?" just felt a little awkward. We also have pesky annoying dogs, so I was trying to get them well out of the way too. Anyway - they cut the register plate to size and then connected everything up. We now have a new chimney pot in place on top of the stack and they also made us aware of some repointing that we need to do on the stack at some point too. I guess we'll have to brave the heights and awkward roof at some point!

Chimney pot on top of chimney stack

The register plate is custom made to fit the opening. This blocks off the space to the rest of the chimney, but also allows the flue to be accessed for cleaning. It also includes the data plate which is required for all solid fuel stoves by law.

steel register plate for wood stove

I should also mention, I made sure that our flue was a quality stainless steel one. I've read terrible terrible things about cheaper ones - so this was something we were 100% firm on - and our fitters had the exact same attitude. Initially I had intended on buying the materials for them, so we were just paying them a fitting cost. They, however were unsure about us buying materials that they wouldn't want to fit, being a poor quality. So we both had the same expectations which was nice.

We did let them buy the materials, as their quote for the materials (by the way - first time I've EVER had a full itemised breakdown quote. Seriously. These guys were amazing!) was only about £100 more expensive than the pricing I had done for materials. And I guess, they probably know quality items better than I do. But, the flue was definitely a high grade stainless steel one. I recommend doing your own research on cheap flues - you'll soon be committed to paying the extra costs of a good quality one!

The Stove: Saltfire ST3

And then - there's the wood stove. We ended up going for the Saltfire ST3 which I purchased online from castfireplaces.co.uk - I had wanted to go and view it in person, but after the car broke and we were left car-less for months, I had to just bite the bullet and take a bit of a gamble. I'm so glad I did, I loooove it!

Wood Stove Installation Process

It's modern, sleek and fuss free. There's no unnecessary details, everything's very simple but stylish. It's very square-ish in shape which I really liked and the larger viewing window was very much a particular swoon-worthy appeal for me. It also has an air wash clean glass technology which means the glass should stay clean...ish. Oh and it's DEFRA-approved too, if you live in a smokeless area. We don't - but it's always a good thing to have anyway.

Saltfire ST3

It has two air inlets controls - the top one is to be left open for the air wash system to work and the bottom one controls the air intake for the fire.

Air Wash technology in wood stove
air intake vents on wood stove

The heat output of this stove is up to 8KW which means it's a little larger in size than the 5KW sizes, which I really really liked. Some of the stoves we did look at locally just looked a little small. Our opening in the chimney is quite a large one, so I wanted something that fitted comfortably in the space - not too small and not too big. This one is just perfect! The firebox is also a really good size and I'm even impressed by the simple yet modern handle. Some handles on stoves we did look at, felt just a little clunky and cheap.

saltfire st3 handle
Inside a saltfire ST3

We had to wait a few days for the fire cement and sealants to set before we could light it up - but oh boy, was it worth the wait. I've never really experienced a working log burner before having this installed. I've seen them in some local showrooms (the expensive kind we totally couldn't afford) but I've never experienced them in a home environment and seen how good they actually are, on their own. This was installed in July so it hasn't been put to the max test yet, but we've certainly given it a fair few runs and I absolutely love it. 

Saltfire ST3 review
Wood stove installation costs
Firemizer review

I have to say, the paint colour 'downpipes' in the back of the chimney was such a great choice! It really off-sets the orange flames. My fire starting skills are already up 50% what they were a few months back - I'm soon to become a pro firestarter and I'll be rivalling Bear Grylls for his survival skills in no time. I'll keep you posted on how well it heats the room in the coming months, but all I'll say for now is that it's definitely HOT!

Making Logs Last Longer

I'm still very much getting to grips with our log burner, particularly with which logs burn best etc. But, one thing I have been testing out is this nifty little product that keeps your logs burning for longer, saving money and improving efficiency.

firemizer mat for saving money on logs
firemizer to save money

The Firemizer is basically a very thin stainless steel blended mat that sits in the bottom of your burner. It slows air flow at the base which reduces the burn rate (meaning logs last for longer!) as well as reducing creosote in the chimney/flue. It's been tested and proven by the University of Cambridge as well as being Award Winning. Does that not say it all?! You place logs on-top of the mat and light the fire as you normally would. It's very discreet and once a fire's lit, you can't really see the mat at all, it just does it's job under-cover.

firemizer inside wood stove
firemizer in stove
lighting a wood stove
wood stove costs
installing a wood stove or log burner

I've never seen another product similar to this - it's really quite unique and actually, really clever! The mat lasts for up to six weeks, so it's definitely worth it if your log burner sees a lot of action, as ours will! We're still yet to fully test the log burner and the Firemizer in all its glory for long periods, (summer has barely left us!) but I definitely noticed the logs burning to a finer ash whilst using it so far! I'll be sure to keep you updated on it in the coming months though, so keep an eye out for that.

I'm over the moon with our new log burner and I literally cannot wait for the colder weather to hit us, just so I can finally sit in a room and be warm. It's going to be such a novelty! Obviously a log burner, isn't cheap. But it's still half the price of all the quotes we had for central heating and we can control the costs of running it much better too. They're not designed to replace central heating (unless you have a back boiler installed along with it - but this costs waaaaay more than you'd expect) but for us, this is something we only ever dreamed of. Who cares that we'll have to live in one room throughout winter (although I do read they're great at transferring heat across many rooms) this thing has charm and character and I wouldn't want to be in any other room when this is running anyway. If you can't tell, I have serious fire love.

Let me know what you think - Do you have any tips for for me with regards to burning logs? Or if you have any questions about the installation, be sure to leave them below :)

Costs

Breakdown of All Costs:
Labour + Certification £400
Stainless Steel Flexible Liner £300
Adapters + Bird Guard £120
Register Plate £75
Vitreous Pipe £36
Materials (Fire Cement etc) £30
Carbon Monoxide Alarm £25
Chimney Pot £65
Saltfire ST3 £499

Total: £1550

Costs from Previous Posts: £227
(includes hearth, paint, lining chimney opening, fitting a lintel - see posts below for more details.)

Total Including all of the above: £1777


If you'd like to see how we removed the old back boiler, click here.
If you'd like to see how we fitted a new chimney lintel, click here.
If you'd like to see how we lined the opening & fitted the hearth, click here.


*I received the Firemizer to test out for the blog. Thanks for supporting the brands who support this blog!


Installation and Costs of a Wood Stove: Everything You Need to Know!



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