Five ‘dangerous’ log burner mistakes you need to ‘avoid’

Fireplace and log-burner rules explained in 2021

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The energy crisis in the UK has caused many households to start looking for alternative and cheaper ways to heat up their homes during the colder months. One way which has proven to reduce heating bills as well as add an aesthetic feel to a space is with log burners. People have turned to these wood stoves in hopes of helping with their energy bills. But few are actually aware of how to use them properly, property expert Simon Boden, from the quick house sale company, advises everyone that burning wood takes serious preparation and it’s essential that they ensure their own and home’s safety is a priority.

Here are the “five most common mistakes” which households make when using a log burner and “smart ways to avoid them”.

1. Combustible materials

Problems with log burners often occur due to failure to install it properly in the first place, as the expert noted that it starts with the right set up and ensuring that everything is safe to be used. 

Simon said: “It’s not unheard of to have installers who are trying to cut corners and make the installation as easy as possible without considering aspects of it which could cause a massive issue later. 

“For example, if the material behind the log burner is combustible, and the distance between the stove and the back wall is less than 50mm, it’s highly likely that a dangerous situation may occur. Not only is that extremely threatening, but it’s also against building regulations.”

2. Using wet wood 

Using wet wood could reduce the efficiency of a log burner which is why it should be stored correctly. 

It’s recommended that households keep their logs in a dry shed, allowing for some air circulation so that when it comes to the time to use them, they can perform at their best. 

The expert warned: “Sometimes the wood doesn’t appear to be wet but it’s still not dry enough to be as effective as you need it to be. 

“Generally, you would start seeing soot forming on the glass of your log burner if that is the case. Because wet wood releases steam when used, this causes soot to form and that should be your first hint you need to store your wood better and in a drier place.”

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3. Using accelerants 

People who don’t have enough experience with making fire and burning wood can make “dangerous mistakes” which “may threaten their lives”, according to Simon. 

An example of that is when people try to use accelerants. An accelerant is any substance or mixture that accelerates or speeds the development and escalation of fire

Experts claim that there is a reason why the saying goes “like pouring gasoline on a fire” and log burner owners should never use such accelerants when using their stove. 

The expert said: “Adding these petroleum-based combustibles to a fire could end badly with a potential explosion so don’t take such risks and practice patience with starting your fire. Your safety should be a priority.”

4. Throwing water or using a fire extinguisher to put out the fire

Everybody knows that the best cure is prevention so if households can avoid starting any fires, it would be best. 

However, in case of fire which feels out of control, sometimes the “worst thing” is to try and stop it by throwing water at it, claimed Simon. 

He said: “In the best scenario, you will end up with a house full of smoke and it’s unlikely you will stop it. The worst case, however, is that the log burner will be damaged and the grate bars could crack.

“The same could happen if you try using a fire extinguisher to a fire which is already out of control and visibly too hot.”

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What households should do is try to stop the intake of air as much as they can or alternatively get out of the house and call the fire department immediately.

5. Not cleaning it

Taking good care of a log burner inside and out is “essential” for its performance so inspecting and cleaning it regularly is a must, advised the expert. 

Clearing any buildup and throwing away the ash is something many people forget to do which could later result in blocked airflow and reduction of fire efficiency.

When cleaning a wood burning stove, take the opportunity to inspect the rope seals on the doors and flue. It’s not uncommon for the seals to succumb to everyday wear and tear, so it’s important that these are checked frequently and changed if necessary.

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