Frequently Asked Questions
Fireplaces are rated in kilowatt (kW) output and this figure gives you an indication of the heat output capability of the unit, enabling you to determine whether it is sized correctly to achieve the desired results. For single-volume spaces a quick tip and rule would be to specify 1kW per 10m2.
All closed combustion fireplaces carry a kilowatt rating. The formula is used for calculating what size fireplace can comfortably heat a specific volume: (L x W x H of space).
- Cubic volume of the room divided by 25 = no of kilowatts to heat that area
- Square meters of room divided by 10 = no of kilowatts to heat the room
Popular woods in South Africa to burn in your fireplace:
Black Wattle - Also known as myrtle wood and pepperwood, black wattle is a slightly soft wood that is favoured for use in pizza ovens. It burns hotly and the characteristic long straight sticks are ideal for getting a good fire going quickly.
Blue Gum - Originally introduced to South Africa by Australian settlers, this much-prized hardwood variety has flourished and become an enduring staple of the timber industries. As a firewood, blue gum is notoriously difficult to process as it often does not grow straight, and its aromatic eucalyptus wood can take a long time to fully season. When burnt, blue gum comes into its own, burning long and hot with minimal smoke and a distinctive eucalyptus aroma long into the night.
- Use dry, seasoned wood. The moisture content of wood directly affects the way the fireplace operates. Well-seasoned dry wood will give best results and least problems.
- Wet or green wood will not burn efficiently. You will receive less heat from wet/green wood as energy is used to evaporate the moisture from the wood.
- Ideally, seasoned wood should contain 12% to 20% moisture. Wood with a moisture content of more than 20% will require more air to light, heat output will be cut dramatically, and soot and creosote will build up in your flue system. If you hear your wood sizzle or you can see moisture bubbling from the ends of the logs placed on a hot fire, your wood is too wet.
Over firing the fireplace will damage the internal components and cause the side, bottom and /or top plates to warp and/or crack and will invalidate the warranty.
Your stove will operate at the correct temperature if you can comfortably sit 2 meters from it. It will not be necessary to burn more than 1 average size log in a small and 2 average sized logs in a medium fireplace; and a maximum of 4 average size logs in a large fireplace; at any given time.
Over firing a wood stove is when a fire is burning bigger, hotter and faster than required for the stove to provide its normal operating heat output.
Every model of wood burning stove has been designed differently, and these differences can be how much wood the firebox is able to hold, how efficiently oxygen can get to the fire, and how well the stove converts energy stored in the wood into heat.
In general, the larger the stove the more heat it can give out, because it can hold and burn more wood at any one time. Oxygen, efficiency of the stove and secondary burn, among other factors can also influence the total heat output.
Placing more fuel in a stove fire than recommended can cause the stove to heat up to temperatures beyond what the stove has been designed to cope with.
Over firing a wood burning stove that leads to unsafe temperatures can also in turn create unsafe temperatures inside the flue or chimney. Burning wood releases smoke, soot and creosote; the latter of which can line the inside of a flue over time.
Creosote is a highly combustible material, and the potential for a chimney fire to occur can increase as the temperature of a wood burning stove increases. The extra heat generated by an over firing stove can cause hot air to ignite the creosote.
Along with overloading of fuel, allowing too much air into the stove can also cause over firing. An excess of oxygen can cause the fire to grow out of control, and so it’s important to understand what the purpose is for each air vent on a stove and how they should be used.
Leaving the stove door open, or the air vents wide open, will fuel the fire with large amounts of oxygen.
- Wet wood
- Painted or treated wood
- Paper or cardboard with coloured print
- Plywood, particle board, and chipboard
- Fire starters
After Winter is the best time to service your fireplace, this needs to be done at least once a year. It is a requirement for safety and warranty reasons from the manufacturer that your close combustion fireplace is serviced.
- Distilled white vinegar
You can clean your fireplace glass with distilled white vinegar; and by adding a small measure of baking soda, this will form a paste that can serve to loosen and remove stubborn soot marks. Use old newspaper to clean the glass interior surface.
- Ashes and Newspaper
Dampen the black and white newspaper with tap water and then dip it into a bowl of leftover ashes from the fireplace. Believe it or not, water and ash make the perfect, all-natural fireplace glass cleaner. Use the newspaper to wipe the fireplace glass door in a circular motion to loosen the soot.
The big difference between cast iron stoves and steel stoves is heat retention. As cast iron is a thick and dense metal, it takes longer to heat up than steel, so you won’t feel the warmth in your room as quickly. However, the positive side of this is that it can retain heat for much longer. This means that after your fire goes out, a cast iron stove will continue to radiate heat into your room.
If you are looking for a solution that heats quickly and cools quickly, then steel may be a better choice. A major benefit of cast iron is that it often has a more visually pleasing look. It is for this reason that many homeowners choose these types of fireplaces when shopping for wood burning stoves.