So you've bought yourself a new woodburner. If it's just been installed by your HETAS approved fitter then hopefully they have run through the basic operation of the stove with you. But if you couldn't be there for the handover or you've moved into a home with an existing woodburner, what do you do?
Here are the things you'll need:
Matches/lighter, firelighters, kindling and of course logs!
We recommend using firelighters rather than old newspaper for three good reasons:
- Paper and newspaper produce more ash when burnt so you'll need to clear out the ash pan more frequently.
- The inks used in commercial printing can be volatile and acidic when burnt causing problems with your liner. If you have spare paper consider recycling, rather than burning it.
- Firelighters are designed to burn for longer at a higher temperature, allowing time to get your kindling lit and stove up to temperature.
Buying firelighters in bulk is by far the most cost effective option. Ask us about the firelighters we stock - they are excellent!
The trick with getting a fire started is controlling the airflow. Most stoves have a primary and secondary air control. The primary is needed when you are getting the fire established and the secondary helps to keep the glass clear (airwash) by providing air at the top of the stove. How well this 'airwash' works is dependent on using the controls as described in the user guide and burning low moisture wood.
Next, loosely stack kindling around your firelighter. Use thin lengths of softwood to build a structure that allows airflow, rather than packing in as much fuel as possible. Think Jenga, not Tetris!
The manufacturers guide will detail the controls for your particular fire. There are a number of designs such as sliding levers, spinlocks and hidden controls. Some people prefer to leave the door open at first, to improve the initial draw. It may be necessary on certain days to open your window a crack to introduce some additional air into the room when the fire is first lit.
It may be tempting to put a larger log on straight away but it can do more harm than good as you risk smothering the fire. Remember that logs won't burn until the temperature in the stove is high enough. This is where the kindling is needed. Softwood kindling will light from the temperature of a good firelighter. Logs will burn best once the kindling gets the stove warmed up.
Once your fire is established you can then add larger logs. The maximum log length varies between stoves (check your user guide for tips). Make sure they are kiln dried or thoroughly seasoned. If you use wet wood (anything over 20/25%) the moisture will have to evaporate first before the log will burn. This is the most common problem that our customers have. Wet wood is both harder to burn in a stove and also opens you up to increased likelihood of problems in your flue, such as condensation and sooting.
If your stove is brand new, it's best not to get it too hot for the first few uses. This is part of the breaking in process and to be on the safe side you'll want to avoid having a roaring fire until its been lit a few times. It's also worth checking if your new stove needs curing. When a stove is ready to be shipped from the factory, one of the last things that happens is that it's sprayed black. The paint may need to 'cure'or 'go off', so there could be a slight smell on first use. We would recommend that you first light it when you can have a window open to allow this to disperse. The paint may also be a little 'soft' during this first firing so be careful not to smudge it. It should say in the user guide if your stove needs to cure. Once you've familiarised yourself with the guide, keep it safe, ideally with your certificate of installation. You might need it again if you look to sell your property.
To get the most from your stove you'll want to follow the user guide, burn only 'dry' wood and be patient. It will take time to develop familiarity with how your stove operates and how best to control your fire.
- Loosely stack softwood kindling around your lit firelighter. Gradually build up the temperature inside the stove with additional kindling and using the air controls. Once the fire is established you can add larger hardwood logs for increased heat and burn time. Then sit back and enjoy your stove!
The video below from Arada Stoves walks you through the process: