A guide to buying and owning a wood stove or fireplace

A wood burning stove or fireplace is a technical piece of equipment and it is important to give careful consideration to the requirements of owning and maintaining your new wood burner, as well as choosing your ideal appliance. The links on this page will help you better understand some of these key considerations such as the importance of using the right fuel, maintaining and servicing your stove and some top tips for trouble free operation.

Choosing the best stove for you and your family

With so much choice available, it can be difficult to know where to start when choosing a stove. 

Smoke control area?

The first things to take into consideration are whether you want to heat a single room or the whole house, and whether or not you live in a smoke control area. If you are in a smoke control area you will need to look for a clearSkies Level 3 or above appliance as these have been verified as Defra Exempt as well as meeting the requirements for Ecodesign. 

Heat output & room size

Personal style will be your next consideration and you’re likely to be spoilt for choice with a wide variety of stove designs to suit all tastes from traditional to contemporary. Matching the heat output of a stove with the room it is going to heat is very important and it is best to take advice on this from your local independent stove retailer. These businesses will be able to offer you advice on choosing a stove that is right for you. 

Relevant legislation

As well as it being compulsory for a stove to have a CE mark, from 1st January 2022 all wood burning and multi-fuel stoves and fireplaces that are manufactured will have to adhere to strict new guidelines known as Ecodesign.

All clearSkies appliances have had all their emission and efficiency performance data in respect of their Ecodesign compliance and CE mark verified, and the manufacturers have self-certified to clearSkies that they have complied with all other aspects of Ecodesign and CE mark compliance.

Appliance efficiency

Appliance efficiency is another key consideration – this is the amount of heat that is delivered to the room. The good news is that along with significantly lower emissions, clearSkies stoves and fireplaces are much more efficient than older stoves. A key benefit of having a high efficieny stove is that it will cost you less to run as your will get more heat from fewer logs. 


Your local independent retailer will also be able to advise you on the installation of your new stove and chimney system. Installation should be via an appropriately qualified installer, registered under a recognised competent persons scheme (eg: HETAS, OFTEC, NAPIT, APHC). A competent person can ensure and certify the safe installation of the stove or fireplace in compliance with the appropriate building regulations. This really isn’t a DIY job, but if you do have the skills to tackle it yourself, then it is a requirement to get your installation inspected and approved by your local Building Control department.

The importance of using the right fuel

Modern clean burning stoves are designed to burn dry wood.

Burning wet wood will lead to an increase in smoke and emissions and produce significantly less heat. It will also lead to a blackening of the stove glass and a build-up of soot in the chimney. It is recommended that only logs with a moisture content below 20% should be used in a stove. Furthermore, in February 2020 the government introduced new legislation in the Environment Bill that will see the sale of wet wood (i.e. wood with a moisture content higher than 20%) in volumes under 2 cubic meters phased out altogether by 2021.

Water doesn’t burn!

Freshly cut wood can have a water content of between 60% and 80% and if used in a stove this will amount to burning mainly water. Freshly felled timber should be cut and split into small logs and left to dry in a covered but airy store, before being used. This can take between 12 and 36 months depending on the storage conditions and most importantly the species of the wood. For example, ash may only need 12 months but oak at least 36 months. This is known as seasoning. 

Look for the Woodsure Ready to Burn logo

Many people do not have the space or inclination to dry wood for up to three years. They want to buy wood that is ready to burn, and has already been dried to have a moisture content below 20%. This is why Woodsure has launched the Ready to Burn certification for wood which has been tested to be below 20% moisture content. Look for this logo and you can be confident you are purchasing dry wood. 

clearSkies certified woodburning stoves and fireplaces have been precision engineered to use the right fuel. Using wood fuel with a moisture content below 20% will ensure your stove operates as it is designed to do. You may even find that by using wet wood and poor quality fuel your clearSkies stove will be very difficult to light or may not light at all.

Save money & protect the environment

Using dry wood also means that fewer logs are needed to produce the same level of heat. This not only saves you money, it also reduces emissions because less wood is being burnt. This means that by choosing a clearSkies appliance and running it using quality fuel, you are doing your bit to reduce emissions and improve air quality. 

This useful video by the Stove Industry Alliance explains more about the benefits of choosing the right fuel

Click here to view video

Maintaining and servicing your stove or fireplace

A clean sweep

It is vital to clean your chimney or flue on a regular basis in order to prevent a build-up of soot in the chimney.

The frequency will depend on a number of factors including how often the stove is used, the moisture content of the wood used and the type of chimney. A chimney sweep should be able to advise you how often is best when they have swept the chimney. At the very least the chimney should be swept at the start of the heating season. It is recommended that you engage a trained chimney sweep to clean your chimney. 

A chimney is designed to safely transmit the products of combustion to the atmosphere. If you are at all concerned about the integrity of your chimney you should seek professional advice right away and have it repaired by a competent person. There are several different associations representing chimney sweeps and engineers: 

Click here to view associations

Each association maintains a register of members so it should be relatively easy to find a chimney sweep or engineer in your area. These associations have also joined together to form the Federation of British Chimney Sweeps

Click here for more info

Regular maintenance of your stove / fireplace

It is important to ensure that regular maintenance (at least annually) of your stove or fireplace is carried out. This will include important safety checks to ensure the stove is safe to use; including checking the firebox glass is not scratched or cracked, which can weaken it considerably, the rope seals are working effectively, the baffle and grate systems are in good order and working effectively, and airways are clear and working correctly.

Operating your stove or fireplace

It is always best to follow any specific guidance on how to light your stove given in the manufacturer’s instructions that will have been supplied to you. 

The SIA has put together a handy video on how to light an maintain the perfect fire.

Please click here to view the video