With Billing Chimneys’ many years of experience, we get asked lots of questions about chimneys and stoves, and some crop up again and again. One of these is, ‘Do I need a chimney for a wood burning stove?’ The simple answer for many is no, but you will need a flue. In this article we explain how you can enjoy the warmth, comfort and ambience of a wood burning stove if your home doesn’t have a chimney and what fitting a wood burner without a chimney entails.
Chimneys play an essential part in any system where fuel is burned because the smoke and fumes must safely be emitted to atmosphere. In this and most countries there are laws and regulations to ensure chimneys are safe. A wood or log burner needs a means for the products of combustion to be discharged efficiently, so if you want a wood burning stove, and don’t have a chimney, you’ll need a flue system. To fit a log burner without a chimney, the type of flue you need is called a twin-walled flue.
A twin walled flue is just that, a flue with two ‘skins’ made of rigid stainless steel. These are basically metal tubes that have a thick layer of insulation between them. The insulation is there to ensure the flue gases stay warm, so they rise and are emitted safely into the air. In addition to the flue ducts, there are other components such as bends, flashings – weatherproof seals, various fixings, and an inspection chamber. Once the flue system is in place, it will need regular inspection and cleaning in the same way as any masonry chimney.
If you are serious about installing a wood burning stove without a chimney there are several things to consider. These include location, type of appliance, appearance, and cost.
You’ll need to think carefully about where in your home you want the wood burner and its flue system. A twin wall flue system can be installed internally or externally and there are pros and cons for both.
If fitted internally, the new flue will need to pass through more than one floor of your home, so potentially through a bedroom, then out through the roof. It may be that you will want the flue boxed in, or you may wish to make a feature of it. However, it must be encased with a mesh as minimum to prevent human contact.
Fitting the flue externally will mean less is visible inside the property. An external flue will need to pass through the wall then be fixed to the outside your home, so you will need to think about where this would be. You may not want a flue system fixed to the front of your property. Additionally, this type of flue can only include a maximum number of 4 bends, not exceeding a total of more than 180°, which can limit the choice of location. Ultimately, all flue systems should be designed to have shortest, most vertical route as possible.
Both options are possible, it’s a matter of discussing with your installers which would be the best way to achieve the look you are hoping for.
Choosing an appliance is not only personal taste, but also one of taking practical advice such as what size is best for the room in terms of heat output. As well as being suitable the appliance needs to be safe and comply with any building regulations. Also to be considered is whether your property is within a smoke control area. If you are fitting a log burner without a chimney, your choice of stove could be constrained by flue lining options available to you or the size of the fire opening, but it is possible to have a stove without a chimney in most locations.
You need to also bear in mind the design of the appliance and how the flue will look. You could choose to have a black flue rather than a bright stainless-steel option.
This is the bottom line in any discussion about installing a wood burner without a chimney. You need to plan your budget and work to achieve the best you can afford. Bear in mind, however, that in using cheap components, the look of the flue can soon be spoiled by rusting.
A stainless-steel twin-wall system is cost effective; however, each situation is unique. Add to this the appliance itself and a hearth for the appliance it becomes obvious a project of this kind needs careful planning.
Once the project has been designed and the components purchased the installation will generally take two days.
The design and installation of a twin-wall flue system and its associated appliance is best carried out by professional competent persons, such as Billing Chimneys. If not, the project will need to be inspected by your local authority building control and undertaken beneath a building notice.
Twin wall systems are very simple in their design and easy to install. You can have a stove without a chimney in extensions, conservatories, sheds, home offices, yurts, and similar buildings. Like all installations, they need to comply with regulations.
We have already mentioned that when fitting a wood burner without a chimney it is not necessary to have the work inspected if it has been carried out by HETAS registered installer. There are however regulations that need to be complied with. These can be found in the Building Regulations in what is termed Approved Document J. Some examples are:
Measurements of the flue components – for example bends cannot be more than 45° and there can be no more than four bends
Distances between components and the structure – for example, a minimum flue height of 4.5m, from appliance to top of the flue would comply, though a full assessment will be needed.
Adjoining buildings – it is often requested to install appliances in single storey extensions with no chimney, but the possibility of creating a smoke nuisance is a very real consideration. Proximity to existing windows, neighbouring properties and topography all need to be considered.
The Clean Air Act – is the property within a local authority smoke control area?
Special consideration must be given to listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas and buildings of architectural and historic interest.
Installing a wood burning stove without a chimney is an investment in your home. It will provide for a cosy and cost-effective way to warm a room and create a focal point. With a wide range of appliances available and regulations to consider, it might seem a daunting prospect to achieve your dream, but it can be simple and easy. This is where Billing Chimney’s expert engineers can help you to make your choices and ensure a safe and attractive installation. Why not get in touch?
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