Fully operational masonry (brickwork or stonework) fireplaces or prefabricated gas fireplaces can both be converted into wood burning stoves, whereas newer, direct vented or ventless units cannot. Consider if your set-up is an older, traditional fireplace or a new appliance before embarking on what could develop into a costly, ineffective conversion project and always keep abreast of building regulations in your area, which may have rules about converting old fireplaces into wood burners. If your fire is electric, you can follow the same procedure as a gas appliance, but turn off your electricity, not gas supply to carry out work.
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- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Crescent wrench
- Protective gloves
- Tape measure
- Threaded gas pipe cap
- Yellow Teflon tape
- Soapy water
- Stone or firebrick
- Refractory mortar
- Flue liner
- Wood burning stove
- Steel pipe
- Stove putty
- Seasoned wood
Turn off your gas supply at the main by twisting the shut-off valve using a 12- or 15-inch crescent wrench, according to Pacific Gas and Electricity. Wear protective gloves. Remove the gas fire by unscrewing it using a screwdriver.
Discard the old gas fire safely in a council disposal facility, particularly if you think the fire contains harmful asbestos, which some early coal-effect models do. Turn off the secondary gas valve where the appliance stood using the wrench.
Measure the diameter of the pipe behind the fire that brought gas into the appliance using a tape measure. Purchase a threaded gas cap that fits the pipe. Pull the gas line out using your hands. Wrap the line in yellow Teflon tape.
Put the pipe encased in Teflon into shallow, soapy water. Watch for bubbles, which indicates a leak. Wrap in fresh tape until you can perform the underwater test without bubbles forming. Dry the pipe. Cap the line by pushing the threaded cap over the taped pipe. Screw it on tightly using your hands.
Install a solid hearth to support the new wood heating stove, if you do not already have one. Build the hearth out of firebrick or stone. Lay it on a 2-inch thick bed of refractory mortar using a spade and trowel. Aim to allow at least 12 inches of hearth in front of the new stove and 6 inches on each side and at the back, as described by Stoves Online. Allow the hearth to dry for 48 hours.
Have the chimney swept by a professional. Install a chimney liner, also called a flue liner, to efficiently draw out the stove gases. Fix a cowl to the top of the chimney stack. Put a new stove on the hearth. Attach the stove to the flue using a steel pipe that matches the diameter of the stove and flue. Seal with fireproof stove putty.
Burn only dry, seasoned wood in a converted fireplace. Allow new wood to dry and rest for at least 12 months before use, as explained by Northwest Stoves. Damp, mouldy, new (unseasoned) wood will smoke heavily, produce unwanted gases containing spores and reduce the overall efficiency of the stove.
Ask a professional gas engineer to check your work and verify that the gas can be turned back on. Wait until your gas supplier has reconnected the gas feed to your property before lighting any pilots.
Tips and warnings
- You can opt for a less expensive, open wood fire, but for maximum efficiency, cleanliness of burn and overall safety, use an enclosed stove.
- Turn off the gas supply before work commences or you could cause an explosion. Do not allow children to play near fireplaces. Flames cause burns and smoke can damage their eyes or respiratory passages if they breathe too much in.
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