At Topstak, we are proud to offer premium customer service, with our team of fully qualified, professional sales advisors always available to answer your queries. However, before you get in touch, we would recommend you take a look at our most frequently asked questions below, to see if we’ve already answered your question.
Got a question about your stove? Take a look at our most common stove questions and answers.
What is a DEFRA approved stove?
A DEFRA approved stove is a heating appliance that has been approved for burning wood in a smoke control area by the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs. With the aim of reducing pollutive emissions produced by wood burning stoves, the government introduced DEFRA as a method of classifying stoves which are clean burning and efficient for burning in UK Smoke Control Areas.
Which stoves are DEFRA approved?
At Topstak, we stock a huge selection of DEFRA approved stoves, as we support the movement towards greener, clean burning, efficient heating appliances. Our stove brands that manufacture DEFRA approved stoves include ACR, AGA, Arada, Charnwood, Chesneys, Clearview, Contura, Dovre, ESSE, Focus, Harrie Leenders, Hunter, HWAM, Jotul, Scan, Stovax, STUV, Wiking and Woodwarm. You can explore our stoves by brand here.
What size and output of stove do I need?
What size and output of stove you need can be determined by the following factors: The size of your home, whether there are stairs connected to the room where your stove will be placed, are the windows are single or double glazed, how tall your ceilings are and how large your fireplace opening is, if you have one. Each one of these points will impact the distribution of heat, so it is important you carefully select and survey the area where your stove will be located. Once you have definitive answers to each of the above, we would recommend using our stove selector tool to find the stove size that’s right for you.
Should I buy a wood burning or multifuel stove?
Whether you purchase a wood burning or multifuel stove will depend on your choice of fuel. As wood burns best on a bed of ash, with air coming over the top of the fuel, wood burning stoves are designed to have solid bases for the wood to sit on. However, as solid mineral fuel or coal requires a slotted grate to allow air from underneath for optimum burning, the design of a multifuel stove will usually include a grate and ashpan to accommodate for this type of fuel. If you are certain you will only burn wood, we would recommend a wood burning only stove. However, for those who remain undecided, a multifuel stove will suit both wood and solid multifuel.
Should I buy a cast iron or steel stove?
While cast iron and steel stoves are very similar in their performance, they do have a few small differences. A steel stove will heat up more quickly, whereas, a cast iron stove will heat up more slowly. Cast iron, however, will hold onto the heat for longer once the fire has gone out compared to a steel stove. If you are looking for a stove that will heat up the room for a couple of hours in an evening, a steel stove is for you. If the heat is required over a longer period and more gradually, a cast iron stove may be best.
Can my stove run my central heating and hot water supply?
If you’re looking for a stove that will not only emit heat but also operate your radiators and hot water supply, you’ll need a boiler stove. Before purchasing a boiler stove, we would recommend contacting a qualified plumber who will be able to assess your home and inform you what boiler output you require.
Will I need an air vent fitted for my stove?
An air vent is required for wood and multifuel stoves where the rated nominal output is above 5kw. There are exceptions to this rule, such as properties built after 2008 among others. To find out whether your appliance or property will require an air vent, please contact us at Topstak.
Can I install my own stove and chimney system?
While it is possible to install your own stove and chimney system, you must comply with the current Building Regulations and obtain the necessary Building control approval. We would recommend you always consult with or access the services supplied by a fully qualified professional. If you’re not sure who to contact, we have our own team of HETAS registered installers, who are always on hand to install stove and chimney systems bought from Topstak.
Can I have a wooden beam or surround around my fireplace?
As wood is a combustible material, your surround would have to abide by current Building Regulations in order to avoid fire risk. This means that your beam or surround will have to be installed at a safe distance from your stove or be made from non-combustible materials. At Topstak, we supply a collection of realistic wood effect beams made from reinforced concrete and also a lightweight version, so that you can achieve the appearance of a wooden beam without the associated risks. See our fireplace beams here.
Do I need a hearth for my stove?
A hearth effectively protects the area surrounding your stove and allows you to safely install your stove within a fireplace. With a woodburning or multi-fuel stove, a hearth is always a requirement. There are two types of hearth that a stove may need. One is a constructional hearth and the other a superimposed hearth. This depends on the appliance and installaion. Please check with the team at Topstak to confirm the requirements for your chosen appliance.
Need some advice on your chimney? Explore our most frequently asked questions about chimneys and our answers in response.
Does my stove require a chimney?
If you have a wood burning or multifuel stove, you will need to have a class one chimney. From stone and brick construction with clay, concrete or and pumice liners, flexible liners and insulated metal chimney systems, at Topstak, we stock a chimney system to suit every stove and home. If you’re not sure which type of chimney you need for your home, get in touch with our team of experts.
Do I need planning permission to install a chimney?
While fitting, altering and replacing your chimney system usually doesn’t require planning permission, it is best to check with your local authority before beginning any development.
Do I need planning permission to remove a chimney?
When removing a chimney, you likely won’t require planning permission, unless your property is a listed building. However, when removing a chimney, you must comply with Building Regulations, meaning you’ll have to inform your local authority before carrying out any work on your chimney.
Is it necessary to line an existing chimney?
Whether your existing chimney needs lining will depend on the age, condition and construction of the chimney.
If you’ve just moved into a property with a chimney, we would always recommend you have your chimney inspected by a qualified professional, to gauge the condition and safety of your chimney. Older chimneys that haven’t been properly maintained pose particular risk, as you may find that tars and acids have eroded the chimney walls, allowing dangerous fumes to leak into your property. In this event, you will need a new liner installed to provide a sealed flue for smoke to travel up.
With new build properties, your chimney should have been constructed properly and therefore not require lining. However, the flue size of the chimney will need to suit the size of the stove being installed.
What flue size do I need?
The flue size you need will depend on the make of your stove. Building Regulations state that the minimum size flue that can be used is 150mm (6 inches). To find out which flue size is most appropriate for your stove, we recommend you consult your stove’s installation instructions or the expert team at Topstak.
How often should my chimney be swept?
How often you sweep your chimney will depend on the type of fuel you burn. For seasoned and kiln dried firewood, you will need to sweep your chimney at least once a year. If you’re burning solid mineral fuel, your chimney will require sweeping at least twice a year. For those burning wet wood (you should not burn wet wood), your chimney will need regular sweeping to clear any deposits released which will otherwise restrict the flow of flue gases.
At Topstak, we are able to offer chimney sweeping services throughout South Wales, with our very own team of fully qualified chimney sweeps. Get in touch to find out more.
Firewood and fuel FAQs
Not sure which firewood you need for your stove? See our advice below, where we answer our most commonly received firewood questions.
What is the best type of wood to burn?
The best type of wood for immediate burning is seasoned or kiln dried firewood. Dry wood supplies a clean burn and produces less pollutive emissions due to it holding less moisture that needs to be released.
Seasoned hardwoods such as ash, oak, beech and birch burn longer due to their dense nature. Whereas seasoned softwood lights and burns quickly, which is why it is often recommended for use as kindling.
You can purchase seasoned logs and kiln dried firewood online at Topstak.
How do I season firewood logs?
If you buy green or unseasoned firewood, you will need to season the logs before burning. To begin the seasoning process, your wood needs to be cut and split into the required log size, before being efficiently stacked and stored under a cover. It’s important you stack your firewood to allow good air circulation around each of the logs, so that the moisture can begin to evaporate. By storing your firewood under a cover, you will protect it from the rain and any extra moisture that may hinder the seasoning process.
At Topstak, we supply logstores and rain shields, which have been designed to effectively stack and store your logs, while providing easy access once they’re ready for burning.
What happens if I burn green or unseasoned firewood?
Burning green or unseasoned logs should always be avoided, as it leads to high amounts of pollutive smoke being produced. When you burn green wood with a high moisture content, very little heat gets released. This is due to most of the energy being used to release moisture in the form of water vapour and steam. When this combines with the products of combustion, tar is created which can damage the appliance and block the flue, putting your chimney at risk of fire.
What is a moisture metre and do I need one?
A moisture metre is a tool which can be used to check the moisture content of your firewood logs. To measure the moisture, all you need to do is push the two metal prongs into the wood and read the percentage displayed on the screen. Once your metre reads below 25%, your logs are ready to burn.
What should the moisture content of firewood be?
Your firewood should always have a moisture content below 25% before burning. This is because, if your firewood holds too much moisture, your logs will burn inefficiently and release pollutive emissions, impacting the surrounding environment.
How should I store my firewood?
Whether you buy seasoned, kiln dried or unseasoned firewood, you’ll want to store your logs in a dry and secure storage solution. When storing your logs, it’s vital you keep them away from moisture and provide them with plenty of air flow to keep them dry and ready for burning.
When storing your firewood outside, we would recommend you use a logstore. However, if you’re looking to store logs inside, we’d suggest a log holder.
What coal can I burn in my stove?
With so many types of coal, or solid mineral fuel, to choose from, you will need to check your appliance’s manufacturer instructions to see which fuel type is advised for use in your stove. Smokeless fuel is often recommended for use, particularly in smoke control areas. Whereas, both ordinary house coal and ‘Petro coke’ are unadvisable for use in closed stoves.
Got a question specifically about Topstak? Take a look below or get in touch with one of our team.
What information do I need to bring with me to the showroom?
When visiting one of our showrooms, we’d recommend bringing as much information as possible. If you’re looking to purchase a stove, we will need to know the size of the room where the stove will be installed and the dimensions of the existing fireplace if you have one (height x width x depth). We also ask that you bring an image of your fireplace and chimney. This information will allow us to clearly advise you on which size of stove will best suit your home.
If you’re having a chimney installed, it would be useful to bring any plans or drawings which include dimensions so that we can get an accurate image of the space that’s been designed.