An outside fireplace? Why? A case study.

Escea EF5000 Outdoor Gas Fireplace

Escea stainless steel Outside Gas Fireplace

“Nothing is more fun than being outdoors with a roaring fire and maybe even seeing snowflakes if you’re lucky, whilst cooking outside in mid winter.

It can be reminiscent of that skiing weekend in Switzerland or your trip to the Pyrenees mountains.

An outdoor fireplace can be used to make spring, autumn and winter feel more like a summer evening, to draw the family out of doors on cooler, yet still quite reasonable days and to share some real quality time together.

Such a fireplace can be placed not only on a patio, but also in a select spot in the garden; we actually had a covered porch, but it wasn’t completely enclosed – and we were frustrated at not being able to get outside more in the wintertime.

Using a patio or deck in the winter isn’t always comfortable, given wind, snow or rain and we wanted to be able to sit outside, be comfortable and not get cold whilst we wree cooking or just relaxing with a hot toddy.

With the fireplace installed, it was far more comfortable to sit outdoors, to watch the snow and to breath the crisp clean air. The porch roof prevents our getting wet and the heat kept us all fairly warm … so we found that we could use our porch even in the depths of winter.

The fireplace is now our hero. It promotes atmosphere and ambience – and with the various styles we now know are available that will go with nearly any patio or garden decorating style, anyone can have one. We burn gas in our Escea, but you can also use logs or peat.

If you’re in love with your patio, but don’t use it as often as you’d like because of the drop in temperatures that the seasons offer, try installing an outside fireplace and see if it doesn’t help to keep you outside a bit longer in the year”.

David Foxall
Gerrards Cross
Buckinghamshire

Advertisements
Posted in Outside fireplaces | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five tips for choosing an outside fireplace.

Escea outdoor stainless steel fireplace

Stainless steel outdoor fireplace

An outside entertainment area can extend your home space and an outdoor fireplace will bring a fantastic ambience to your alfresco meal or BBQ party – or just make eating in the great outdoors that little bit more special.

Investing in an outside fireplace will allow you to make full use of your deck or patio area, as you won’t need to retreat indoors when the sun goes down or when the evening turns a little chilly.

Most outside fireplaces are of course intended as source of heat, although you’ll find some which are made almost solely for their decorative function.

So, what should you look for when contemplating an outside fireplace?

1. Do you prefer the traditional look or contemporary? Many garden designers are producing fabulous futuristic landscapes and are using modern materials to create that fashionable minimalistic look. Choose a modern widescreen design of fireplace if you don’t want to go out of date quickly. Consider the energy source. The main choices are Natural gas, LPG, wood or bio-ethanol. Natural gas will be the most convenient as it can be permanently piped in, is the least expensive running-cost option unless you have a free source of wood, is the cleanest both in use and for the environment – and in most cases won’t need a chimney or flue. LPG is a great option if you have somewhere to conceal the cylinder, but it will be more expensive to run than natural gas. Burning wood is romantic, but bear in mind there will be ashes and dust to clear, the fuel is expensive if you have to pay for it and it has to be stored somewhere. It can be smokey in windy conditions. Bio-ethanol gives little heat in an outside situation, but flames always look great whatever the fuel!

2. What will the cost of installation be? We would recomend a permanent installation to get the best out of your investment and athough a bio-ethanol fireplace will need no installation at all, it won’t give the same heat output as wood or gas – and is quite expensive to run. Both gas and wood-burning fireplaces should be installed by a qualified engineer. Think about the setting for your fireplace. Will you set it into a wall, or build a suitable enclosure? Kits are available for built-in, so you can just clad with your preferred choice of stone, tiles, brick or appropriate matching deck material.

3. Durability. What material will your fireplace or fire be made from? Even the driest climate may have an effect on the longevity of your fireplace. If it’s a traditional design, it could be built from stone or brick and only the fire-burning area may incorporate metals, which may rust or deteriorate over time. Preferably, invest in a stainless steel gas fireplace, which won’t rust over time and will always stay looking good with minimal maintenance. Just make sure it comes with a weatherproof cover for the worst that winter may bring.

4. Lighting; how will you light the fuel in your new fireplace? Lighting wood can be frustrating unless you know how to light a wood-burning stove. Never use petrol! An outdoor gas fireplace will be the most convenient, if it has built-in electronic ignition. Just flick a switch! Bio-ethanol is usually lit with a match or taper, but be safe – and keep young children away from such portable heaters.

5. Finally, the cost. What will you invest? Installing an outdoor fireplace may be a part of a larger garden refurbishment project and so the fireplace could be just a small proportion of what you are preparing to spend overall. Buy the best you can afford, it will provide more heat, be more convenient, stay looking great and will last a lot longer. Spend wisely if you don’t make regular use of your outdoor space. The best gas fireplaces will add value to your home, but if you have a very limited budget consider a firepit or chimenea instead.

Posted in Flueless outdoor fireplaces, Outside fireplaces, outside fireplaces london | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should I install a see-through fireplace?

balanced flue gas fireplace

Three-sided see-through fireplace

A state of the art open see-through fireplace can provide contemporary fire enjoyment in any large space, between multiple rooms – or can even act as a room divider. Wherever it is built, a see-through can deliver a striking architectural statement, allowing fire viewing from both sides and perhaps the use of exotic facing materials, different on each side.

But, ‘open’ see-through fireplaces can also be troublesome, usually because the ratio of the effective area of the fireplace opening (which logically, will be much larger than the equivalent conventional fireplace) compared to the cross-sectional area of the chimney, may be out of kilter – allowing spillage of the products of combustion due to insufficient updraft. And other air-movement devices such as air conditioning or even a simple kitchen extractor can affect the safe operation of such a fireplace.

Essentially, it’s all about the chimney. Will it exhaust the gases safely at all times? A professionally installed chimney fan can often cure spillage, but this can be an expensive option.

The correct approach should be to listen carefully to a design or installation professional before purchase. An early site visit is essential, particularly if you want to utilise an existing chimney or flue. Starting ‘from scratch’ with no flue at all in a new or refurbishment project often offers a better chance of creating a safe open see-through fireplace chimney system and ensuring that it always operates correctly.

Sometimes, a see-through fireplace is open on all four sides, usually with a decorative canopy hung from the ceiling. These are often in very futuristic shapes.

Another up-to-date answer can be the ‘tunnel’ gas fireplace. Usually a balanced flue product, the tunnel fire will have glass on both sides and is usually room-sealed, that is, it will take air for combustion directly from outside of the house, via the concentric balanced flue.

These tunnel fires are sometimes also available with glass on three sides, allowing your architect interesting design options, such as building into a peninsula unit.

Any see-through fireplace, open, canopy or tunnel, will offer a stunning addition to your home. Just make sure it’s designed properly, allow a suitable budget and get experts to build it.

This is not a DIY project nor is it one to be tackled by the average house builder without expert assistance.

Posted in Chimney & flue advisory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five ways to tell what kind of chimney you have.

Balanced flue fire

Is your chimney type here?

Your choice of gas fire or other heating appliance in the UK will be determined by the type of chimney or flue in your home, if there is one at all.

You will be able to identify which flue type you have by observation, or by asking your local specialist independent fireplace retailer to advise you. Let’s try observation first.

1. If you have a chimney breast in your home and a brick chimney on your roof, it is likely that you have a ‘Class 1’ chimney which should be suitable for burning wood, solid fuel or
gas in your fireplace or stove. Class 1 chimneys are usually constructed of brick or lined with clay liners, but can also be made of pre-cast sections in heat-resistant materials or even twin-wall insulated stainless steel sections. Class 1 chimneys must be a minimum of 175mm/7″ internal diameter. A chimney should be swept and inspected by a registered chimney sweep or other expert before being brought back into use. If a chimney is found to be unsound, it may have to be lined before it can be used. Using a flexible stainless steel flue liner is the generally accepted method for cost-effectively making good, but other methods are also available. If the chimney has already been lined, it will be important to establish the size (diameter) of the liner to decide which appliances may work with the liner. It will probably be 125mm/5″ or 200mm/8″. You will also need to establish the type of terminal that has been fitted, by observing from outside.

2. If you have no chimney breast but there is a shallow fireplace opening built into the wall in your living room, it is likely that you have a pre-cast flue. This is a letter-box sized flue that is built into the cavity wall construction as the house is being built and is only suitable for use with appropriately designed gas fires. Other identifiers of a pre-cast flue would be the roof vent or terminal, either a perforated ridge tile or possibly a small diameter (125mm/5″) stainless steel flue and terminal which protrudes vertically from the roof tiles. If there is already a suitable gas fire installed, it will inevitably be distinguished by its shallow fuel bed.

3. Some homes have been built with what may appear to be a Class 1 chimney breast, but may be found to only have a small diameter (125mm/5″) factory-made metal flue installed, which will reduce the choice of gas fires that may be used, although any ‘Class 2’ approved gas fire should be capable of working safely in such a situation. The on-roof identifiers are similar to pre-cast flues in ‘2’ above. Such Class 2 flues are only suitable for use with appropriately designed and approved gas fires.

4. If there is a gas fire installed in your room and there is no apparent chimney or flue as described above, you may have a powerflue fire or a flueless fire. A powerflue gas fire uses a fan built into a simple flue duct, usually on the back of the fire, which must be fitted to an outside wall. The fan itself will protrude partly or wholly from the wall on the outside of the house and will be easily visible, as an identifier. These fires must be connected to mains electricity in order to work and the tell-tale fan noise is a another good identifier. In the last ten years, innovative gas fires which do not require a flue at all (flueless fires) have come onto the market and the best ones have built-in catalytic converters which safely remove carbon monoxide from the products of combustion. With this type of fire there are minimum room ventilation requirements, usually a 100cm2 airbrick is required to be installed and it is recommended that another heat source such as central or underfloor heating is also present in the room.

5. Another, more up to date and energy-efficient option for houses without flues or chimneys, is the balanced flue gas fire. These fires are designed to exhaust the flue gases through a simple twin-wall factory-made flue sections which can be installed virtually anywhere in a home. An outside wall is not a necessary requirement. The flue can exit either vertically or horizontally from the house, giving a multitude of installation options. No additional room ventilation is required as balanced flue fires are room-sealed and use outside air (for combustion) which is drawn into the combustion area through the concentric construction of the flue itself. Balanced flue fires are typically high-efficiency, glass-fronted appliances and many are at the forefront of the fashionable, minimalist look that so many people aspire to in today’s fashion-conscious world. Balanced flue fires can be identified by the flue terminal, which most often protrudes from an outside wall but may also be installed in a vertical situation.

An expert should always be requested for advice before purchasing any gas or solid fuel heating appliance. Most independent fireplace retailers can offer a site visit service, prior to purchase. Woodburning stoves in particular require expert advice prior to installation.

Posted in Chimney & flue advisory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Five important things about balanced flue gas fireplaces

Thinking of buying a balanced flue gas fireplace? Here are five things you should know:

1. Balanced flue fires are energy-efficient, however there can be a big difference between real-life running costs and the measure of efficiency (%) or maximum heat output (kW/hr) used to compare such fires. Most UK homes have central or underfloor heating, so for many people a high heat output is not as important as low running costs or a realistic flame. Look for gas inputs of less than 5kW/hr if you want lower running costs.

2. Not all balanced flue fires are created equal. The idea is to have a great flame picture. Many larger models have a high heat input (running costs) or, when they are operating on a low setting to conserve fuel, the flame picture can become quite poor. Try to find a model with a low maximum heat input, in this way you will always be able to enjoy the flame.

3. In many cases, it is not recommended to install a flatscreen or plasma TV above a high-heat output gas fireplace.  Establish from your supplier if there are any technical restrictions or if the gas fire has been approved with TV installation in mind. However, ‘Zero Clearance’ fireplaces are usually safe to use with a TV. Ask for a copy of the manufacturer’s installation instructions to establish this point before purchase.

4. Balanced flue fires should be simple and relatively inexpensive to install compared to installing a new flue or lining an existing chimney. However, many balanced flue fires need expensive heat-resistant materials to be used in the construction of a false chimney breast, they often need unsightly grilles to be fitted top and bottom of the chimney breast and may also require the gas controls to be mounted separately in a metal box in the side of the chimney breast. Try to establish from your supplier if the brand you have chosen needs these unsightly and expensive items. Ask for a product that is ‘Zero Clearance’ which won’t need expensive installation techniques.

5. Your new fire will probably have a remote-control handset. Establish what will happen when the batteries run flat or you misplace the handset. A good balanced flue fire will have a readily-accessible manual control option as back-up, preferably concealed behind the facia.

Good luck in your search for a stunning widescreen gas fireplace!

Posted in Five things you should know about balanced flue fires | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warm your outdoor parties with a fireplace!

There can be nothing more enjoyable than spending time outdoors at home with your family and friends,  but have you ever gone back inside because the night was just too chilly to enjoy the moonlight?

Stainless steel outside gas fireplace

Outdoor fireplaces are great for warming outside entertainment areas in homes, restaurants and pubs.

Summertime BBQs and pool parties are very common outdoor activities when entertaining in the warmer months, but by adding an outdoor fireplace to your patio or entertainment area you can make it possible to spend your evenings more comfortably outside during the spring and autumn evenings – even in winter! – by adding the warm glow of a real fire.

By installing an outside fireplace, you’ll not only enhance your experience outside, you’ll stay warm and toasty and never have to run back inside because of the cold.

Before choosing, you’ll want to determine how much maintenance you will have to perform on your fireplace.

Some designs require more than others. If you’re looking for something that is virtually maintenance free, you should consider purchasing a full stainless steel, gas-fired outdoor fireplace.

You won’t have to worry about cleaning up ashes and it won’t rust. And, yes, it will toast marshmallows!

Outdoor gas fireplaces generally won’t need a chimney or flue and will run on piped natural gas or a propane tank (LPG).

If you enjoy the smell of burning wood, you’ll certainly want to purchase a wood-burning model. However, you’ll also want to consider where you will obtain suitable wood, where it can be stored and maybe what else you can burn in the fireplace for that added enjoyment.

For example, if you would like a more aromatic experience, you can add pine cones or even apple wood. To keep those pesky insects away, you can purchase juniper or pinion wood.

Wood burners need a chimney.

If you decide to choose a clay chiminea for your outdoor fireplace, a safety precaution you should take is to sit this on a protective base instead of your wood deck.

While these are absolutely wonderful to use, if they fail, they may do so when in use.

If your chimenea falls apart on you with age, it can cause damage to the supporting surface.

Finally, there are bio ethanol burners which are portable, but you should keep young children away.

Posted in Outside fireplaces | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can’t find an installer?

We can install our gas, bio ethanol, solid fuel or electric fireplace products within the M25 area and via partners throughout the UK & Ireland.

Posted in Installation services | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chimney lining made easy.

We provide a chimney lining service for gas or solid fuel within the M25 and via partners throughout the UK. On-site quotations by request. CCTV inspections subject to survey.

Posted in Chimney lining | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you want to know about chimneys?

I guess we all know that a chimney is a structure for exhausting hot flue gases or smoke (products of combustion) from a fireplace to the outside atmosphere.
Chimneys are typically vertical, or as near as possible to vertical, ensuring that these gases flow upwards smoothly and at an appropriate rate, drawing air into the combustion process at the same time in what is known as the stack effect. The space inside a chimney is called a flue.
Typically, for a UK gas fire, the internal diameter of a flue will be between 125mm (5″) and 200mm (8″).
Many older masonry chimneys will have a larger flue, typically a 9″x9″ brick opening or larger. Older chimneys may have to be lined in the event they become unsound.
Not all UK homes have a chimney, but it is almost always possible to exhaust the products of combustion from a gas fireplace in any type of home – new or existing – by someone with the necessary experience and technical expertise.
For example, one can install a factory-made twinwall flue system for Class 1 or 2 gas fires, although this can be disruptive in any rooms above the fireplace.
Make a flue using these sections

Stainless steel factory-made Class 1 flue sections

Many modern high-efficiency gas fireplaces do not require a chimney at all. Such balanced flue appliances are typically installed near to an outside wall and the flue can be run directly through the outside wall, negating any need to go through a bedroom, for example.
Many balanced flue gas fires and fireplaces also use inexpensive flue components to create an up-to-ten metre-long flue which can be installed either horizontally through an outside wall, vertically through a house  – or a combination of both.
balanced flue vertical horizontal

Balanced flue installation options.

Finally, almost any flue can be made to do quite extraordinary things by adding a suitable chimney fan with electronic controls – and a lot of technical know-how.
So, if you still long for that see-through or central fireplace but only have a small diameter flue – or your chimney just won’t work – well, call us!
At Urban Fires we provide creative chimney & flueing solutions including chimney lining, the supply/install of factory-made flue systems, the design and installation of bespoke flues – horizontal and vertical – plus balanced flue gas fireplaces and chimney fans.
We operate a free telephone and email help scheme and an on-site advisory service anywhere on mainland UK.
Posted in Chimney & flue advisory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is a balanced flue gas fire?

Balanced flue gas fires are energy-efficient glass-fronted room-sealed appliances that take air directly from outside the home for combustion.

ST900 balanced flue gas fire

ST900 Blo'c in Stainless Steel

Typically, they are easier to install and have more versatile siting opportunities – with a choice of horizontal (up and out) or vertical flue runs or a combination of both – to be fitted just about anywhere.

Balanced flue fires are ultimately safer than open appliances working in a chimney, which may become blocked or partially so during its lifetime.

And balanced flue components are usually far less expensive than typical twin-wall factory-made chimneys.

You won’t need additional room ventilation with your fireplace as air for combustion is drawn through the balanced flue system, leaving the room without draughts from an airbrick.

They certainly can be installed just about anywhere. The balanced flue components can be used for a distance of up to 10 metres, horizontally or vertically.

If your home already has a chimney, but which is unsound, there is a Masonry Chimney Conversion kit saving the cost of having the chimney rebuilt or expensively lined.

How will you know if you can have a balanced flue fire? An Urban Fires retailer or the nearest Escea Centre will be able to advise and may also be able to offer a site visit.

See also our Chimney & Flue advisory service

Posted in Balanced flue gas fireplaces | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment