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Fires

August 12, 2015

gas fire room divider

Fires can be fuelled by solid fuel (coal, smokeless fuel or timber), gas or electricity. Before selecting a fire you will need to determine whether you have a working chimney as this will determine the type of fire system available to you. If there isn’t an existing working fire, then the state of the chimney will need to be checked. Brick chimneys, found in most older properties, are compatible with any sort of fire, but the chimney should be swept and checked for soundness before embarking upon any alterations or installations. Pre-fabricated and pre-cast flues are found in more modern homes. Pre-fabricated flues are suitable for most types of fire but a pre-cast flue may limit you to slimline fire designs. Pre-cast gas flues are only suitable for gas fires and only for some gas fires at that.

Tip: In Ireland there is not regulation of oil installer but gas burning appliances should be installed by Bord Gais approved installers.

Solid fuel fires come in two types, open or closed. The open fire is often just a basket or grate for burning coal, smokeless fuel or timber. They look good but can be inefficient and can be quite difficult to control. Closed-in models with glass doors and convection channels burn more efficiently and, with some models, have the heat ducted to other rooms. Convector fires offer a compromise between an open fire and a closed-in model. Designed as a steel box within another steel box, convected hot air radically improves the fires efficiency without the need for a glass front. Solid fuel fires generally generate far more heat than most gas fires but you have to clean out them out before relighting them.  Solid fuel fires are suitable for a natural stone fire surround but not with reconstituted stone, reconstituted marble, resin or fiberglass fire surround.

Tip: Solid fuel fires can tarnish the polish on grates very easily so opt for matt finish instead.

The fire basket which sits recessed into and directly below the chimney has become a very popular choice in recent years but it is horrendously inefficient. Most of the heat is lost directly up the chimney rather than been deflected into the room as is the case with a standard inset fire or register grate.

Tip: Solid fuel fires typically need a chimney or flue bigger than 7″ in diameter or cross section.

Gas fires
Many of today’s gas fires are available in 4 versions; one for a conventional flue, one for a fanned or power flue, one for a balanced flue and one that requires no flue at all. The balanced flue uses the effect of burnt fuel exiting the flue pipe to pull in more air for combustion, while the fanned/power flue uses the fan to pull air into the unit and exhaust gases through the flue into the atmosphere. Fanned/power flue fires are typically more expensive due to the extra components required to make it function. Some fanned/power flue systems also have the option of being side venting, which means that the fire does not need to be situated on an outside wall.

The 16” x 22” inset fire is the standard size of a gas fire in Ireland and most fireplaces are designed to accommodate this particular size. A fireplace will either have a one-piece back panel with a 16” x 22” pre-cut opening, or a three-piece back panel that can be adjustable to accommodate the fire. These types of inset gas fires are available for Class 1, Class 2 and Precast chimney systems. Options include open fronted, glass fronted, Natural Gas, LPG, Powerflue, Balanced Flue or Flueless. Standard fire baskets can also be fitted with gas fires.

Tip: The heat effect of the fire can be maximised by ensuring that when the fireplace is fitted the installer ‘backfills’ the fire with a cement and vermiculite mix.

Tip: Fanned flue fires require a power supply and the noise of the fan is audible fan noise.

A balanced flue system is sealed using a glass front and the fire is connected to a special twin walled flue pipe that goes through the wall to the outside. This twin walled flue allows clean air to be drawn from the outside whilst expelling burnt gasses. Balanced-flue systems can have much longer flues than power-flue systems as they are not reliant on the fan system to extract fumes. Balanced flue fires must be on an outside wall.

The latest innovation in gas fire technology is the flueless gas fire. Utilising a catalytic converter the glass fronted flueless gas fire re-burns the poisonous gasses given off by the fire and returns harmless emissions to the atmosphere. The fire is therefore 100% efficient and will result in less fuel being burnt making the long term running of the appliance cheaper than the more traditional gas fires. It also does not need to be sited on an external wall.

Tip: Gas and solid fires need ventilation by way of a vent in the floor or wall.

Tip: If you have mains gas supply to your home and want a gas fire you will need a fire designed to take Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) fire.

Electrical fires
Electric Fires have certainly come a long way from the old ‘ two bar ‘ which was common place and potentially very dangerous but the output of electrical fires is limited to 2 kW due to the capacity of the 13-amp ring main that they’re fed by.

Also …… Technical Information on Stoves and on Fireplaces

 

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