Log Burner Safety

Having a log burner in your home is a great way of maintaining a warm and cosy house without increasing your electricity or gas bills.  More fuel efficient than an open fire, a log burger becomes almost like a night storage heater, retaining warmth in the unit itself and heating the bricks and mortar of the building to keep the structure of the home warm.  Anyone who has spent time in an old building will know that once the building walls become cold, it’s takes so much longer to heat the space again, not to mention the cost of the central heating and the effort of keeping a fire burning in the grate.

Log burners are safer than open fires as they contain the flames – it is only when you open the door that logs or embers can escape, but it’s still worth having a hearth rug to protect the floor around the log burner.  If you have children or pets then really consider using a fire guard as well, to provide an extra layer of protection from curious fingers or noses.  Never leave small children unattended near a log burner, but do take the opportunity to teach them about basic fire safety (i.e. it’s hot, don’t touch it!) so that as they get older they learn to respect fire.

A carbon monoxide detector is a must if you have a solid fuel burning stove in the home.  Like smoke detectors, ensure that they are placed in the correct location, so that they detect this gas before it builds to a dangerous level.  Your stove installer should know where to locate your CO detectors.  Proper ventilation is important too, so ensure that there is a window that can be opened in the room where you have your log burner.

It is advisable to have your log burner flue swept yearly (or more if you use it a lot) to prevent a build-up of soot in the flue.  Burning wet wood can damage the flue and chimney liner.  This can build up a lot more soot and residue than seasoned, dry wood, so a regular sweep and inspection is a good idea, to ensure issues like this are identified before they become a more expensive problem to rectify.  Your wood should be stored off the ground and covered from the rain, but in a container or place where there is a good circulation of air to help it dry out.  You can dry out rained-on logs by stacking them around the log burner; but you should use these as they dry out and not leave them drying by the heat source.  Your best bet is to get a regular supply of logs and start building your wood pile in the spring, so you have plenty of time for further drying out.  The wood you burn should have a moisture content of less than 20% and be from a hardwood tree – softwood burns more quickly and is less fuel efficient.

It can be tempting to leave the log burner doors open, to get a quicker blast of heat into the room, but this is dangerous and inefficient when it comes to heating the house.  A fire guard should be used to catch sparks and embers bursting out of the burner, if the door is left open for any length of time.  Ideally, the log burner doors should be opened only to light the fire and add more wood, and should be properly closed each time.  If the doors are left unlatched it is all too easy for a log to dislodge itself, fall against the door and roll out into the room.  Every log burner has vents which allow you to control the speed and level of combustion, so do ensure you use these vents to stoke or damp the fire depending on what you are trying to achieve.  If you are off to bed, ensure all vents are closed and the doors are firmly shut before you retire.  This will control the fire and damp it out slowly and safely.

A log burner is a charming addition to any home, (and could increase the sale value), and also provides a reliable source of heat during power cuts and cold snaps, when even the central heating struggles.  Used properly, they are safe and easy to use and can save money on your utility bills.