Bought a house with a real fire place, whats my options?

GrumpyOldGamer

Well-known Member
Never had a home with a log burning fire, it's old and ugly plus a tad unsafe, I'd love to light it but dont want to burn the house down just yet, the brickwork has the odd crack and you can see where smoke has come up behind the mantle and smoke damaged the wall paper (see pics).

What's my options? Knock it out and start again, bare in mind I've bought a house and a kitchen this week.

Any help appreciated.
 

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lowmans100

Well-known Member
Difficult to see the construction of it? Find a local chimney sweep to inspect it.

It could be that the stone cladding was added to the fireplace and there is now a gap between the original front face of the fireplace and the back of the cladding.
 

danmc_82

Well-known Member
Open fireplaces are very inefficient to run, and when not running, will suck up all the warm air out your house during winter.

If it were me, I'd block the chimney with something temporarily over winter. Scrunched up newspaper will do the job for a few months.

Once you have the funds, have a proper multifuel stove installed with Chimney linar. Very efficient to run, and also no air can escape up the chimney when not in use.

All the benefits of an open fire, without the cons/safety issues.
 

busterbenny2001

Distinguished Member
Get it swept and checked out will prob cost £100 if safe you will get a certificate.

Then enjoy it for the winter,burn stuff on it they are cosy loads of time to upgrade it or lose it in the future,.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Not uncommon for an open fireplace to leak a bit, especially when first lit. So I wouldn't be too concerned about the smoke damage. It's quite possible it's completely unsuitable for wood though, and you should only use coal or smokeless. Either way, get it swept if you don't know it's history.

And install a Carbon Monoxide alarm before even considering lighting it.
 

ruffage

Distinguished Member
Have just had mine swept for the year. £59 down south. Although mine is leaking slightly into the loft, so I might go and paint some GRP stuff over the loft wall to seal it.
 

Dbcoup

Distinguished Member
If it was me, I wouldnt light anything. Best to do a smoke test first. You neeed to check the flue liner is in good order, if not the old one will need pulling out (from the roof) and a new one fitting. Usually about a grand for a new aluminum liner and grate on the chimney top. New multifuel burners are really efficient, and can be controlled very well. Also there is very little ash to deal with, and the heat is incredible.
 

MSW

Well-known Member
If you just wanted to put things on hold as it were and if the room has Rads then a balloon up the chimney will stop all the drafts over winter allowing you more time to decide what the best longer term plan might ne

 

MSW

Well-known Member
If it were me, I’d take the whole thing out and enjoy the extra space / feeling that the room is bigger.

Whilst I’m not an expert, I would not be surprised if nowadays not having a fire (gas, electric, coal whatever) is see as an advantage / preferable contemporary option.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
As above do a smoke test. You should look for a good draw with the smoke quickly going up the chimney. Next check all rooms and especially the loft for smoke escaping between the bricks. Next get the chimney swept by a good old fashioned sweep that uses a brush, not an electric cleaner. The brush will show up an internal problems within the chimney itself like loose bricks, birds nests.

You will only be able to burn coal or coke, burning wood is dangerous. Open fires are very inefficient with 70% of the heat going up the chimney, but they are great to look at. I was brought up with open coal fires burning high quality Welsh steam coal. Most the coal nowadays is imported highly sulphurous bituminous coal, also known as house coal. You will have to check with your local council to see if there are any restrictions on the type of coal you can use.

The best idea is to take the fireplace out and use the wall for a 65'' OLED TV.:thumbsup:
 

The Dreamer

Well-known Member
I’ve never heard of burning wood to be dangerous! Unless you’re talking of burning softwoods which tend to ‘pop’ a bit and can send sparks onto the hearth (but a fire guard will stop that).

Anyway, FWIW, lots of good advice has been given above. We replaced 2 open fires with multi-fuel stoves and haven’t looked back.

We were lucky in that the concrete liners were in good nick, so it really was just a case of fitting the stoves in place. One is ‘built’ in to the fireplace, so basically looks just as your fire, but with a door - it is technically an independent stove, but just looks like it’s built into the fireplace. The other is a more traditional free standing unit.

We wouldn’t be without them - and burn lots of wood through the winter months - generally get through two full loads, along with regular coal every season.
 

John

Moderator
If my memory serves me correctly, @gibbsy knows his sh*t about stuff that burns.
 

Dbcoup

Distinguished Member
Just to add, try to avoid burning Green wood, it will tar up the flue, cheapest option is to buy it in bulk, from a local tree surgeon and get yourself a wood store with the split wood off the floor with ventilation to let the wind dry the wood out.
From green to fire, it will be ok in 6 months if split straight away. Dont get obsessed paying a fortune for kiln dried logs, its false economy, and unnecessary, if you have a little storage space and plan ahead.
You can always mix it with coal to keep the costs down.
 

GrumpyOldGamer

Well-known Member
Some great advice, I am tempted to burn something in there and give it a go, the previous owner has left loads of wood and bags if coal at the side of the house but for now I think I'll try some smokeless logs and cosy up with the mrs, next week il look into the cost of taking the bricks out and replacing the burner and liner for something more modern.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Just to add, try to avoid burning Green wood, it will tar up the flue, cheapest option is to buy it in bulk, from a local tree surgeon and get yourself a wood store with the split wood off the floor with ventilation to let the wind dry the wood out.
From green to fire, it will be ok in 6 months if split straight away. Dont get obsessed paying a fortune for kiln dried logs, its false economy, and unnecessary, if you have a little storage space and plan ahead.
You can always mix it with coal to keep the costs down.
Don't burn wood on an open fire that is not designed to do so or has not had the correct flue installed. Wood burners should be enclosed. A chimney fire that results from burning wood is far more severe then one that has burnt coal and sooted up. Old houses in the UK were built with the burning of coal in mind, it was plentiful and cheap, all the chimney had to do was to be lined with brick, usually silica based to withstand the heat of the exhaust gases.

Wood burns at a higher temperature but produces more impurities. When the unburnt material lines the chimney and eventually catches fire through build it burns with a greater intensity than coal produced soot. As a result the brick in the chimney breaks down allowing fire to break through into the rooms above or the loft resulting in a rapidly developing fire in the roof space.

Although rare now I've attended more chimney fires that any other type, some of which have had devastating results. Do not burn wood on an open fire. Have a wood or multi fuel burner installed by a registered installer.
 

Dbcoup

Distinguished Member
Don't burn wood on an open fire that is not designed to do so or has not had the correct flue installed. Wood burners should be enclosed. A chimney fire that results from burning wood is far more severe then one that has burnt coal and sooted up. Old houses in the UK were built with the burning of coal in mind, it was plentiful and cheap, all the chimney had to do was to be lined with brick, usually silica based to withstand the heat of the exhaust gases.

Wood burns at a higher temperature but produces more impurities. When the unburnt material lines the chimney and eventually catches fire through build it burns with a greater intensity than coal produced soot. As a result the brick in the chimney breaks down allowing fire to break through into the rooms above or the loft resulting in a rapidly developing fire in the roof space.

Although rare now I've attended more chimney fires that any other type, some of which have had devastating results. Do not burn wood on an open fire. Have a wood or multi fuel burner installed by a registered installer.
As I said in my post further up I was talking about a multifuel stove.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
As I said in my post further up I was talking about a multifuel stove.
Yes, but you didn't make that clear enough. We are dealing with an open fire as far as the OP is concerned and your last statement may be construed as being correct to burn wood on that open grate. From the photographs there is an obvious problem with the chimney and he really does need to consult an expert.

Carbon monoxide is filtering into the room and I would personally not light a fire in that grate. I'm not a fan of multi or especially wood burners, I hate the smell, never mind the dust. Chimney fires or badly installed or maintained chimneys or flues can and do kill. As a retired professional firefighter I cannot stress that enough.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
Putting aside all that's been said here about dangers and inefficiencies, and all that kinda stuff.
Honestly there is nothing like a real open fire in a room.
Sadly for me it's a long distant memory of being at my grandmothers house and sitting in front of her open fire, with your legs almost burning, due to the heat.
The crackle of the odd log on top of the coals, a fireguard to catch and spits flung out.
The real down to earth basic feel of actual flames can't be replicated.
Yes, despite all the modern negatives, it's something that is such a joy to experience, even if only on rare occasions.
 

The Dreamer

Well-known Member
If my memory serves me correctly, @gibbsy knows his sh*t about stuff that burns.
:facepalm: Doh! Of course he does! I’d forgotten what he does for a living!

...and he’s explained it rather well in a post further down - which is illuminating.

I have a mate who burns wood on their open fire - I’m going to let him know about this. I was totally unaware and just assumed it was a thing with burning softwood, as I’d seen on my mates fire, as it pops quite a bit when burnt - which decent hardwoods don’t.
 

The Dreamer

Well-known Member
Don't burn wood on an open fire that is not designed to do so or has not had the correct flue installed. Wood burners should be enclosed. A chimney fire that results from burning wood is far more severe then one that has burnt coal and sooted up. Old houses in the UK were built with the burning of coal in mind, it was plentiful and cheap, all the chimney had to do was to be lined with brick, usually silica based to withstand the heat of the exhaust gases.

Wood burns at a higher temperature but produces more impurities. When the unburnt material lines the chimney and eventually catches fire through build it burns with a greater intensity than coal produced soot. As a result the brick in the chimney breaks down allowing fire to break through into the rooms above or the loft resulting in a rapidly developing fire in the roof space.

Although rare now I've attended more chimney fires that any other type, some of which have had devastating results. Do not burn wood on an open fire. Have a wood or multi fuel burner installed by a registered installer.
Thanks for that @gibbsy, I’d forgotten what you did for a living, so it is really useful gen ref. burning wood on an open fire. Both of ours are stoves, but I do have a friend that burns wood on an open fire - I’m going to let him know that he should stop - I know he was considering a stove anyway, so hopefully this will make his decision easier.

I can understand why you might not like the smell, I guess your association through work would make it difficult to enjoy - but for me, it’s one of life’s little pleasures, when the weather has clamped, it’s thick cloud around the houses, and you step outside and smell numerous wood and coal fires from the neighbours and our own house. It’s like being transported back in time, totally cut off from the modern world.
 

deantown

Distinguished Member
Putting aside all that's been said here about dangers and inefficiencies, and all that kinda stuff.
Honestly there is nothing like a real open fire in a room.
Sadly for me it's a long distant memory of being at my grandmothers house and sitting in front of her open fire, with your legs almost burning, due to the heat.
The crackle of the odd log on top of the coals, a fireguard to catch and spits flung out.
The real down to earth basic feel of actual flames can't be replicated.
Yes, despite all the modern negatives, it's something that is such a joy to experience, even if only on rare occasions.
I remember the days we had a Coal fire and we were never short of Coal as my dad was a Miner who got a Coal allowance of circa 2 ton a year. There was always a roaring fire in our house.

The only drawback was cleaning it out in the morning and then kindling it again.
 

MrSossidge

Distinguished Member
My stepdad used to deliver coal. I'd go with him on his round on Saturday morning when I was about 13/14. Couldn't carry a bag but I'd be on the back of the wagon turning 3 sacks into 4 sacks. Some of the 4th sacks usually got delivered to our house during the round. Funnily enough, we were never short of coal either. I also recall that the sale of those 4th bags paid for a holiday to teneriefe. Allegedly.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Thanks for that @gibbsy, I’d forgotten what you did for a living, so it is really useful gen ref. burning wood on an open fire. Both of ours are stoves, but I do have a friend that burns wood on an open fire - I’m going to let him know that he should stop - I know he was considering a stove anyway, so hopefully this will make his decision easier.

I can understand why you might not like the smell, I guess your association through work would make it difficult to enjoy - but for me, it’s one of life’s little pleasures, when the weather has clamped, it’s thick cloud around the houses, and you step outside and smell numerous wood and coal fires from the neighbours and our own house. It’s like being transported back in time, totally cut off from the modern world.
It's the Victorian/Edwardian houses that had fire grates installed that were designed around the burning of coal. Older houses, certainly pre-industrial revolution had much bigger fire grates and chimneys and these could take wood fires, they are certainly an attraction in very old pubs.

What happens with wood burning is that the unburnt material forms a very hard crust type of covering on the chimney. Should that catch fire then it will burn at a very high heat, it's not unusual to see flames showing at the top of the chimney stack from a wood burning fire because of the draw that that heat introduces. Coal fired chimney fires will have a lot of smoke which will billow back into the dwelling.
 

deantown

Distinguished Member
My stepdad used to deliver coal. I'd go with him on his round on Saturday morning when I was about 13/14. Couldn't carry a bag but I'd be on the back of the wagon turning 3 sacks into 4 sacks. Some of the 4th sacks usually got delivered to our house during the round. Funnily enough, we were never short of coal either. I also recall that the sale of those 4th bags paid for a holiday to teneriefe. Allegedly.
Sorry! Stealing (if that is what you mean) is not good in my book.
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
Let he who is without sin cast the 1st stone ;)
 

Tempest

Distinguished Member
Ram a monitor in your hole, and hide the surround.
Play this.
Job done :)

Note: An exciting bit at 4:50 into the video below!

 

imightbewrong

Distinguished Member
We have a fireplace, though we blocked it. Strange as we do enjoy the novelty when we rent holiday cottages in the winter months - often they have a fireplace and supply a few baskets of wood like in the above video. They are very satisfying and it is a bit disappointing when it isn't cold enough and we can't use it :)

As a poster above mentioned it takes me back to me grandparent's cottage in Somerset where they had a wood fire most nights in the winter.
 

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