Wood burning stoves have become very popular in recent years, particularly in the face of rising gas prices. Burning wood provides a very affordable yet effective way to heat your home, and provides an attractive focal point for a room. However, many people are not sure whether this is best done through an enclosed wood burning stove or an open fire. In fact, the way that wood burning stoves and their flue supplies work can offer some major advantages over an open fireplace.
Wood burning stoves are more efficient than open fires when it comes to heating a room. Much more heat is lost through the chimney of an open fire than through the flue system of a wood burner. Stoves also produce much more heat than open fireplaces, because enclosed fires burn hotter than open ones. As a result, open fires can need more than twice as much wood to heat the same room. With two air controls, one at the bottom and one at the top near the flue pipe, stoves can also be controlled more precisely. This makes it much easier to heat a room to the correct temperature, and not waste wood by burning the fire too hot.
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As long as they are properly used, both open fires and wood burning stoves are safe to use. However, stoves do have an edge over open fires in safety terms. In rare cases, open fires can cause fires when sparks spit onto the carpet. Safely enclosing the fire in a stove practically eliminates this risk altogether. A stove with a well-maintained flue system, especially when fitted with a flue liner, will also offer a much lower risk of fumes entering the room than with an open fire. Gases can sometimes leak through older brick work, but flue systems are easier to maintain and flue liners can be replaced. Though accidents can always happen, the fact that stoves are enclosed can help make them less likely and often less severe.
In the vast majority of cases, the fumes produced by burning wood are not harmful as long as they do not reach excessive concentrations. However, they can be unpleasant in a number of ways. If they are allowed to leak into a room, they can stain furniture, walls and ceilings and create unpleasantly strong smells. A wood burning stove will significantly lower the amount of smoke and fumes that can leak into a room compared to an open fire. Flue pipes are more efficient at drawing away smoke than chimneys, and certain types of flue liner can make them even more efficient. Keeping the flue system well-maintained and fitting it with a good liner can also ensure fumes don’t leak through as they can with older brickwork. The simple fact that the stove is enclosed also helps prevent fumes entering the room, trapping them until they are drawn up through the flue pipe.
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