Wood and Multi-Fuel stoves are perfect additions to our homes, but unfortunately, they are not without their problems.

Knowing how to look after your homes stove is one thing but being able to recognise when things aren’t going according to plan is a vital skill that will help you avoid costly repairs.

As with any home appliance, things will go wrong from time to time, so here we’ve shared a few more of the most common faults to look out for with your home stove, and what to do to solve them:

Cracking in the Flue Seals

When the fireclay seals around your fire crack or break, they can be quite noticeable as they become more and more unsightly, but what can be done about them? By mixing fireclay with heat resistant glass fibre rope, you can bond the fireclay which will prevent any cracks from forming at all.

Paint Smell

If you light your new stove and notice that it is giving off the noxious smell of paint, don’t worry. Usually, this smell disappears after a few days as it is simply a by-product of the stove production process: it happens as the paint is curing on your stove.

If the smell persists for more than 3-4 days, it could suggest some sort of problem. In this case, contact the manufacturer and they will be able to provide more information and assistance.

Deterioration in Bars and Grates

Whilst all stove bars and grate eventually deteriorate over time, some will obviously wear much faster than others. The speed at which this deterioration happens is all down to the fuel you use, the burn rate and the frequency of ash removal.

Always check your instruction manual to see the best fuel to use and always avoid using petroleum-based fuels. Overfiring the appliance and leaving ash pit doors and air vents open for long periods will also accelerate the deterioration.

Glass is Dirty and Difficult to Clean

Most new stoves feature the new airwash facility to help keep your glass clean when burning.

If it is working, the soot will brush off easily when the stove is not in use. Attempting to clean when the glass is hot will cause your cleaning cloth to steam and can create stubborn stains. Avoid using abrasive cleaning fluids as these can damage the glass.

Always speak with your coal merchants if you are unsure which fuel your stove requires.

Owning a multi-fuel or woodburning stove doesn’t make us an expert unfortunately; problems can occur and if you don’t know what to look out for, those problems can spiral out of control and become much bigger – and much more expensive – problems.

More often than not, the simple problems or quirks that happen from time to time can be easily solved, no matter how daunting they initially seem.

Here are a few common problems that occur and how best to deal with them:

Stove is Hard to Light

Problems with lighting a fire in your stove can fall down to the wrong materials being used or the fire being made up incorrectly. Follow proper fire building techniques to help your fire light properly.

Difficult to Control the Temperature

Stoves can actually burn too hot, which can cause overfiring and ultimately, damage to your stove.

The most common cause is too much oxygen being drawn into the fire. Check all your doors and glass seals are intact and make sure you’re familiar with the controls on the stove to make sure a good temperature is maintained.

A stove thermometer is a wise idea as it will tell you if your fire is burning too hot using an easy to read, colour-coded gauge.

Stove Not Burning Well

This problem is most commonly down to the use of damp fuel. Make sure you are burning the correct type of fuel specified for your stove and that you are burning it correctly. If the problem continues, have a professional check your flue for any blockages or other problems.

Stove Is Smoking

All stoves should be correctly fitted to a good chimney so that no smoke or fumes find their way into your home. If smoke is finding its way into your room, this is usually an indication that there is a problem with the flue. Often a lack of ventilation is the culprit. Flues and chimneys need an air supply into the room to be able to remove the smoke effectively.

Always make sure you are using smokeless coal in your fireplace to prevent the creation of large amounts of toxic fumes.

Freshly cut wood can contain 100% moisture. This means that the water in the wood outweighs the wood itself. Trying to build a fire from this wet wood is incredibly difficult, as you need to get rid of most of that moisture before the wood can burn properly.

This wet wood is often referred to as green wood and although it can still burn, it is much less efficient and less safe to burn than properly dried, ‘seasoned’ firewood.

The firewood we burn today should contain no more than 20% moisture or less and there is plenty of reasons why:

  1. Decreased Efficiency

With so much of your fires energy being wasted in converting the water in the wood into steam, the burning of green wood is seen as the least efficient fire, and the least efficient way to heat a home. Vaporising a pound of water wastes around 1,200 BTUs, or British Thermal Units, a precise measure of heat. A pound of firewood that contains 20% moisture can provide around 7,000 BTU of heat.

  1. Safety Concerns

Not only is it inefficient, burning wet wood can actually be harmful to our health. Wet wood produces much more smoke than dry wood does, in turn, it releases more pollutants and small particles into the air. Burning wet wood also causes a rapid build-up of creosote in your chimney which can cause a serious fire hazard.

  1. Checking Firewood

If you aren’t sure whether your imported firewood is dry enough, check the ends of each piece; if small splits are evident it means the wood is probably dry, whilst a smooth texture will indicate that moisture is present. By knocking two pieces of wood together you can gauge the wetness by the sound it makes: wet wood creates a quiet noise, while dry wood makes a louder, knocking sound.

 

 

 

Installing a wood or coal burning device to heat our home or provide hot water can be beneficial to some by taking the pressure off other heating options, but how do you know which one is more suited to you and your home?

There are positives and negatives to using wood or coal, so it is important to be able to weigh up your options before you commit to a purchase. So, how do coal and wood compare?

Storage

One of the main reasons that people tend to prefer coal over wood is simply due to their available storage space. Coal can be stored in a bin that takes up no more space than a standard general waste council bin whilst wood stores need to be much larger if you are going to make it through winter.

Coal and wood roughly provide the same amount of heat per pound of weight, but coal is at least twice as heavy as wood. To get the equivalent amount of heat from wood you require almost 1 ½ times the amount of space.

Availability

At the moment coal is one of the most abundant fossil fuels and will be for the foreseeable future until more renewable energies take over. Not only is it readily available, but it is also moderately priced and unlike wood, it doesn’t need to be seasoned and if left in the rain will not absorb moisture like wood will.

Coal needs no splitting and doesn’t need to be cut to size before use. When we bring coal inside our house there is also no chance of unwanted insects hitching a lift with it.

There are some negatives, however. Coal is also a dirty fuel; it may not bring in any insects but it will bring in plenty of coal dust which can make a real mess. Wood fires can produce a pleasant smell that makes a home feel more comfortable, coal smoke is definitely not pleasant.

By weighing up your options, you can determine whether you need a house coal or wood burning stove.

 

 

If your outdoor grill has been seeing some more action than usual this summer, with family BBQ’s and world cup parties, then now is an important time to give it a good clean. If you want to keep making great food on your BBQ for the rest of the summer, then you need to keep it clean to make sure it works properly.

Luckily, cleaning a grill is actually very simple as long as you follow these simple steps:

The first step to keeping a clean grill is to be careful when you are using it. You can keep food from sticking to the metal grate by spraying a high-smoking-temperature cooking oil over it before you place any food on it. This will help prevent food from burning and sticking to the metal too much.

By cleaning the grate when it is slightly warm, cooked-on food will come off much easier. Scrub it with a wire brush, leave it for a while, then scrub it again when it is cooler to clean off any remaining grease or salt that will corrode your grill.

Once a year you should think of giving your grill a deep clean. A vinegar and water solution used on the inside and an oven cleaner or washing up liquid on the grill will clear off any built-up residue. To remove any rust from the outside of the grill you may wish to use a fine steel wool. You can also get specially made paint made especially for grills, if you want to spruce up the outside of your BBQ.

When you aren’t using your grill, protect it with a water-resistant cover to shield it from the elements.

Cooking on your outdoor grills, BBQs and chimeneas is perfect throughout the hot summer days, so make sure you take good care of them and clean them properly using these handy tips, so you get great BBQ food every time.

For all your fuel needs, visit Pearson Fuls coal merchants Stockport.

With a large portion of the UK’s imported firewood now arriving from Eastern Europe, there are increasing concerns around the integrity of the supply.

The volume of firewood being imported has increased dramatically over the last 3-4 years. The upscaling of production must coincide with an increase in quality assurance, ensuring the elimination of pests and diseases, proper kiln dried temperatures (greater than 100°C), and ensuring logs are kiln dried for an appropriate amount of time.

If imported wood is not dried sufficiently, the chances of pests surviving under the bark increases, which is a risk that could potentially affect wildlife and the tree life in this country.

If you are buying imported firewood it is important that you inspect the wood you are buying very carefully, particularly if you are buying online. If you are unsure what you are looking for then here is a quick checklist of things you should be asking yourself:

  1. Where is the wood sourced from?
  2. Has the wood been kiln dried? Ask at what temperature and for what duration they dry the logs for.
  3. Is the wood quality assured by reputable organisations such as Woodsure/HETAS? – the only recommended quality assurance scheme for wood fuel.
  4. What is the moisture content of the wood? – it needs to be below 20%; they can prove this with a moisture meter.

There are some telltale signs that will show whether the wood you’re buying has been imported if you think it is being falsely advertised:

  1. If the wood is stacked in crates.
  2. If the wood is in large plain nets and sold by the litre. UK suppliers deal by weight or volume, not litres.
  3. 100% silver birch or alder wood is most likely imported firewood. These species burn much faster than woods such as oak, beech and ash. Eastern Europe has much larger quantities of these species of trees than the UK does.

 

The smart meter revolution set targets to put a device in every home by 2020, but now the government has drastically reduced those targets, letting homeowners opt out and return to their old fashioned manual meters if they desire.

Since being introduced in 2009 the smart meters have been plagued with problems and now, according to current research, one in five people don’t want them.

So, should you get one? Here are the things you need to consider:

Switching Providers

Some “first generation” smart meters fitted in households are currently incompatible with new national communications networks. This can cause your once smart meter to ‘go dumb’, meaning it will be no better than an old-fashioned meters, which users will have to read themselves.

Estimated Bills

Most homeowners chose the smart meter to gain more control over their bills but have claimed that they have been a disappointment. Most energy providers still encourage customers to pay via annual payment plans, where their usage is estimated in advance and split into 12 payments. This can lead users to accrue hundreds of pounds of credit on their accounts.

Poor Signal

If your area has poor mobile signal, then there’s a chance your smart meter wont work either. If you lack good reception, then your smart meter will revert to “dumb mode” and send estimated readings to your provider.

Display Units

Many users have complained that their “smart interface” on their meter is difficult to understand. Companies are currently trying to develop mobile apps for smart readers which will be easier to understand.

No Evidence That They Save You Money

Smart Readers were developed to help people stop overspending on their energy bills and bring down people’s energy use. However, there is no real evidence to suggest that smart meters have done, or can do, either of these things.

Let us know if you feel as though a smart meter, alongside burning house coal and firewood, has made a positive effect on your household bills.

 

 

 

Britain is home to a large number of disused coal mines dotted across the landscape. To make use of these currently unused plots of land, technology is being developed that will be able to tap into geothermal hot water deep underground.

The production of central heating in the UK is currently dominated by natural gas, supplying around 70% of the UK’s heat demand.

Compared with electricity there are far fewer alternatives for low carbon heat production. Solar hot water and biomass are two of the main alternatives being touted; solar hot water is usually produced at a domestic level but requires access to a south facing roof whilst biomass is constrained by availability and the transportation of the fuel.

In trying to find a low carbon, secure and continuous energy source, experts have looked to the disused coal mines of Britain. Countries such as Iceland and New Zealand utilise their volcanic landscapes by capturing the steam and hot fluids produced by deep-lying tectonic activity. Although Britain lacks tectonic activity, the mining boom saw 15 billion tonnes of coal extracted from beneath the land surface. Over time these mines have filled with water due to inactivity and that water has reached deep enough to be heated to over 100°C.

These geothermal fluids are hot enough to drive turbines, produce electricity and also supply heat to homes. Extracting geothermal energy from such depths can only be possible if the water is present and it is able to flow from the rock.

The flooded galleries and shafts left behind by old mining ventures provide the perfect situation for geothermal energy extraction.

Although coal production in the UK has declined to zero, we are still a huge importer of coals for producing electricity and for use as house coal. Having celebrated their first coal free day of power generation in April 2017, utilising coal mines for geothermal energy could become more popular in the future.