Frequently Asked Questions

FIRES AND FIREPLACES - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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Questions and Answers

Any new fireplace or fire installation is going to cost you money so it's best to get the right advice about installation and products before you start. The following is a list of the 50 most commonly asked questions with answers from experienced fireplace industry professionals. Scroll down the list until you find the question that you would like to ask, click on it and the answer will appear.

 

Fireplaces, Hearths and Guarding

 

Fireplace FAQ

Q1. Does an open fire need a hearth?
 

Q2. How big does the hearth have to be?

Q3. I don't want to renew my carpet. Can a hearth be made to fit?


Q4. Does my open fire need a guard?

Q5. What materials and colours are available for mantels, surrounds and hearths?

 

Chimneys, Flues and Ventilation

 

Q6. What type of chimney or flue have I got?
Chimneys & Flues FAQ's

Q7. Do I need to have my existing chimney lined?

Q8. What size of chimney or flue do I need for burning solid fuel?


Q9. Will I need to get my chimney swept?

Q10. Will my chimney or flue require anything to be put on the top?


Q11. I dont have a chimney so can I have a gas fire?

Q12. If I have a power flue fire, does it have to be fitted on an outside wall?


Q13. My neighbour has either a balanced flue or power flue gas fire which has a terminal and cage on the outside wall. If I choose a balanced flue or power flue fire, will I have to have the same thing?

Q14. Our chimney has been removed downstairs but is still upstairs and in the loft. Can I restore the fireplace downstairs?


Q15. Does my fire need ventilation?


Q16. Why do some fires require an external air vent and others dont?

 

Fires, Stoves and Controls

 

Q17. How safe are gas fires?
Controls FAQ

Q18. What are flueless fires, how do they work and are they safe?


Q19. What are gel fires, how do they work and are they safe?

Q20. Are convector fires better than non convector fires?


Q21. Are living flame fires more expensive to run that other types?


Q22. I dont like the logs, coals or pebbles on my new gas fire. Can I change them?


Q23. What are the artificial coals, logs or pebbles made from?


Q24. How often do I have to change the coals on my coal effect gas fire?


Q25. What happens if waste paper is thrown on my gas fire?


Q26. I have a gas fired back boiler with a gas fire on the front. Can I change the fire without changing the boiler?


Q27. How do operate a gas or electric fire. Do I need to bend down?


Q28. If I have a remote control fire do I need an electricity supply?


Q29. Can I still use my power flue gas fire if thereís a power cut?

Q30. What sort of fuel can I burn in my stove?


Q31. What are pellet stoves?

Q32. How often do I have to clean ashes from my stove?


Q33. What is the difference between a solid fuel and multi fuel stove?

 

Heating your room

 

Q34. How much heat does my fire or stove provide?
Heating your room

Q35. How much heat do I require for my room?


Q36. Does all the heat go up the chimney?

 

Buying, Installation and Maintenance

 

Q37. I do not have mains gas. Are there other options?
Fireplace Maintenance FAQ

Q38. Will the installation of my new fireplace damage my wallpaper?


Q39. How do I clean the mantel and hearth?


Q40. How can I find my nearest retailer?


Q41. Should I buy my fire or fireplace from an independent retailer or a multiple.


Q42. If I purchase a fire or fireplace from the internet, what happens if anything goes wrong?


Q43. Does the appliance price include fitting?

 

Rules and Regulations

 

Q44. Do I have to get planning or building permission for my new fireplace?
Gas Safe Register Logo

Q45. Can I install a gas fire or stove myself?


Q46. How long does it take to install a new fireplace?


Q47. If I order my new fireplace today, how long will I have to wait?


Q48. What can I do if I donít have a gas supply near my fireplace?


Q49. Do I have to have a Gas Safe registered fitter to build a fireplace?


Q50. Can a Gas Safe registered installer fit my woodturning stove?

 

Q1. Does an open fire need a hearth?

Yes. Unless the fire manufacturerís instructions specifically state otherwise, all open fires (solid fuel or gas) need a hearth.

Click Here to Find out more about fireplace hearths for open fires

 

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Q2. How big does the hearth have to be?

A hearth should extend forward from the fireplace opening or stove 300mm (12") and 150mm (6") either side of the fireplace opening. These measurements are taken from the front of fireplace opening or, where the fire itself is recessed into the opening, from the front of the burner. Where an open fire is installed in a fireplace recess, the hearth must extend 500mm (20") in front of the stove and 150mm (6") either side. Where a stove is freestanding and not within a fireplace recess, the hearth must be not less 840mm (33") square and the stove itself not placed closer than 150mm (6") to any of its edges.

The hearth for a stove that has doors that open must extend a minimum of 300mm (12") from the front of the stove and for stoves where the doors cannot be opened, 225mm (9") from the front. Hearths for fireplaces and stoves must be at least 50mm (2") deep and manufactured from non combustible material.

It is very important when ordering a fireplace and hearth to make sure your supplier knows what type of appliance is going to be used. A hearth material and construction suitable for a gas fire may not be suitable for a solid fuel fire.

Click Here to Find out more about fireplace hearth sizes

 

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Q3. I don't want to renew my carpet. Can a hearth be made to fit?

Yes, made to measure hearths are available from many manufacturers but their
dimensions must comply with those detailed in A2 earlier.

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Q4. Does my open fire need a guard?

A suitable fire guard is recommended for all open fires for the protection of the young, infirm, elderly and pets. A fire guard not only prevents hot material from falling from the fire but also prevent clothing from coming into contact the naked flames or embers.

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Q5. What materials and colours are available for mantels, surrounds and hearths?

A wide range of materials are suitable for mantels and surrounds but only relatively few materials are suitable for hearths. Marble surrounds, mantels and hearths are usually displayed to demonstrate their style and colour compatibility and there are usually many alternative colours and finishes. Your retailer will be able to provide further information.

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Q6. What type of chimney or flue have I got?

The type of chimney or flue can sometimes be identified by the age of the property although it is always worth asking your retailer to arrange for a survey to be absolutely sure. Homes built before the late 1960ís will often have what are called Class 1 chimneys. Homes built after that time may still have Class 1 chimneys but could also have Class 2 flues or pre-cast flues so you need to certain which type you have before choosing a new fire.

Many gas fires are suitable for installation with all three types of chimney and flue but some or not. Check with your retailer or installer to ensure you are selecting the correct fire type to suit your property.

Click Here to Find out more about Chimney and Flue Types

 

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Q7. Do I need to have my existing chimney lined?

This entirely depends on its condition and your retailer, installer or chimney sweep will be able to give you further advice and arrange for a simple test to be carried out to check if everything is okay.

It is unwise to assume that a chimney or flue works correctly simply because it is there. Testing may discover problems that are completely hidden from view like internal damage or blockage.

If an existing chimney has to be lined remember that this may influence or restrict your choice of fire.

Click Here to Find out more about Chimney and Flue Lining

 

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Q8. What size of chimney or flue do I need for burning solid fuel?

Burning coal, coke or wood in an open fireplace requires a chimney or flue with a minimum internal diameter of 175mm (7 inches) and constructed of a material specifically suitable for solid fuel.

For burning coal, coke or wood in a stove, the size of the chimney or flue required will be detailed in the manufacturerís instruction and may be smaller than the 175 mm (7 inches) needed for an open fire.


Your retailer, installer or chimney sweep will be able to advise you further.

Click Here to Find out more about Chimney and Flue Sizes

 

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Q9. Will I need to get my chimney swept?

Yes. It ís always advisable to get an existing chimney or flue swept or checked before the installation of a new fire or fireplace. To contact a registered chimney sweep in your area, go to website www.nacs.org.uk or telephone 0800 833464.

Click Here to Find out more about The Importance of Having your Chimney Swept

 

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Q10. Will my chimney or flue require anything to be put on the top?

Depending on the age and type of your chimney or flue, a terminal or guard may be required. A terminal is usually used to ensure adequate flow up the chimney or flue and, in some instances, to alleviate down draught or smoking. A terminal can also provide protection against the ingress of rain, birds seeking a nesting site and vermin seeking warmth.

Where a terminal is not required, a suitable guard can be fitted to deal with bird and rodent problems.

 

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Q11. I don't have a chimney so can I have a gas fire?

Yes. There are currently three types of gas fire that do not need to be connected to a chimney or flue.

Flueless gas fires are designed to work without any sort of flue at all. Many types use catalytic converters to change the combustion products into harmless vapour which is allowed into the room.

Balanced flue gas fires use an arrangement that passes through the wall immediately behind the fire that both evacuates the combustion products and allows in air for combustion. Balanced flue fires (sometimes called room sealed fires) are completely sealed from the room and usually have a glass front through which the flame effect is visible.

Power flue gas fires use a fan arrangement to conduct the products of combustion from the rear of the fire to the outside world. Occasionally power flue gas fires are used where a conventional chimney or flue is too small or its performance cannot be guaranteed.

Click Here to Find out more about Gas Fires for Homes Without Chimneys

 

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Q12. If I have a power flue fires, does it have to be fitted on an outside wall?

No. There are some power flue gas fires where the products of combustion can be ducted to a point on an outside wall up to 7 metres away from the fire.

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Q13. My neighbour has either a balanced flue or power flue gas fire which has a terminal and cage on the outside wall. If I choose a balanced flue or power flue fire, will I have to have the same thing?

Both balanced flue and power flue have to have a terminal on the outside wall which, depending on its height above ground level, has to be protected with a cage to prevent people coming into direct contact with the terminal which can become very hot.

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Q14. Our chimney has been removed downstairs but is still upstairs and in the loft. Can I restore the fireplace downstairs?

Yes. It is possible to replace or rebuild the chimney breast downstairs but great care must be taken to establish how the original removal of the chimney breast was carried out and completed. A chimney breast that rises through a house is often a structural component and its full or partial removal may have required new components to be added that could affect its rebuilding.

Such restoration may require Building Control approval from your local authority and there advice should be sought before undertaking such work.

Click Here to Find out more about the Anatomy of a Chimney

 

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Q15. Does my fire need ventilation?

Apart from electric fires, all open fires, irrespective of their fuel type, need an adequate supply of air to burn properly. Restricting the air for combustion may cause the fire to burn incorrectly and increase the risk of it producing toxic combustion products. It may also reduce the effectiveness of the flue or chimney.

In some cases, the ventilation can be from the room itself and does not require an air vent through an outside wall and your retailer or installer will be able to advise you further.

Click Here to Find out more about ventilation of fires

 

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Q16. Why do some fires require an external air vent and others don't?

Quite simply it depends of the type of fire you want to have installed. Fires that consume the least amount of gas may be able to draw sufficient air from the surrounding space to work perfectly. The surrounding space is itself ventilated around the tiny, almost invisible, gaps around doors and windows and this ventilation is enough for some fire types.

However ventilation is not necessary for all fire types so check with your retailer or installer before making the final decision about the fire you would like to have fitted.

Click Here to Find out more about ventilation of fires

 

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Q17. How safe are gas fires?

All gas fires have to be fully safety tested and approved by a government recognised authority and carry the CE mark as your assurance that the appliance is safe. Installation must always comply with the manufacturerís instructions to ensure safe and trouble free operation.

Click Here to Find out how to check if your installer legally allowed to fit your fire

 

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Q18. What are flueless fires, how do they work and are they safe?

As the name suggests, flueless fires work without any need for a flue and are fully tested and approved in the same way as all other gas fire types. As with any product, if installed in accordance with the manufacturerís instructions flueless fires are perfectly safe although the manufacturers do not generally recommend them as the primary source of heat.

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Q19. What are gel fires, how do they work and are they safe?

Gel fires use a non toxic odour free gelatinous substance to produce a flame effect and a relatively small amount of heat. They do not normally require a chimney or flue and can therefore be used where other fire types are not feasible.

Click Here to Find out more about gel fires

 

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Q20. Are convector fires better than non convector fires?

Convector fires are usually more thermally efficient than non convector types resulting in a higher heat output and/or lower running costs. Convector fires incorporate a heat exchanger to harness heat that might otherwise be lost up the chimney or flue. Consequently convector fires are usually more expensive to buy than non convector types and usually use less gas for the visual flame effect than non convector types.

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Q21. Are living flame fires more expensive to run that other types?

The running costs for the various gas fire types available vary significantly so itís important to decide whether you want optimum efficiency (the most heat for your money), a balance between efficiency and visual effect or the best available visual effect. The manufacturerís literature combined with advice from your retailer will help your decision.

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Q22. I don't like the logs, coals or pebbles on my new gas fire. Can I change them or mix different fuel types?

Definitely not! When a gas fire is tested and receives its CE mark, it has been tested and approved with a specific fuel type and arrangement and any change to this could seriously affect the way the fire works. Any guarantee provided by the manufacturer or installer will be invalidated if the fuel is changed or the arrangement altered.

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Q23. What are the artificial coals, logs or pebbles made from?

Many of the simulated coals, logs and pebbles are made from refractory ceramic fibres (RCFís) which vary in composition but are non hazardous. The dies and stains used to colour them are also non toxic but, as with any man made material, care should be taken to ensure that small children and pets cannot attempt to eat them.

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Q24. How often do I have to change the coals on my coal effect gas fire?

All gas fires should be checked and, if necessary, serviced annually. Your engineer will advise you if the coals, logs or pebbles need replacing and will be able to assist in obtaining the correct replacements. Generally the artificial fuel will last for many years although this will clearly depend on usage.

Click Here to Find out more about a gas safe engineer for servicing your fire

 

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Q25. What happens if waste paper is thrown on my gas fire?

You should not throw any waste paper or debris on your gas fire and should discourage guests from similar action. If your fire has been used as an ashtray or similar you should check the userís instructions for the fire or seek the advice of an engineer.

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No. Most gas fire and back boiler combinations are designed to work together and the gas fire is usually an integral part of the back boiler. You should seek the advice of the manufacturer or an engineer who can advise you if there are any fire replacement options.

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Q27. How do operate a gas or electric fire. Do I need to bend down?

For some models you do have to bend down to operate controls at hearth level. Many gas fires however have options for controls at the top or side of the casing, wall switching and full function remote control.

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Q28. If I have a remote control fire do I need an electricity supply?

It depends on the type of remote control you have selected. Some remote controls are self powered by batteries and other types require a mains supply but virtually all remote control fires can be operated manually if the batteries or power supply fails.

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Q29. Can I still use my power flue gas fire if thereís a power cut?

No. Power flue gas fires will only work if there is a power supply to the fan. All power flue fires are designed to automatically turn off the gas if the power fails.

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Q30. What sort of fuel can I burn in my stove?

Stoves are designed for wood burning, solid fuel burning or both and have a burning grate specifically designed for the fuel type. Those stoves than can burn both wood and solid fuel are usually known as multi fuel stoves and often have an external lever or control to adjust the burning grate for different fuel types.

Click Here to Find out more about the types of fuel you can burn in a stove

 

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Q31. What are pellet stoves?

Pellet stoves burn compressed wood in the form of pellets via an automatic feed and control system that only consumes fuel when heat is required. The burning rate is determined automatically thus eliminating wastage and providing optimum efficiency.

Click Here to Find out more about air pellet stoves

 

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Q32. How often do I have to clean ashes from my stove?

A wood burning stove often benefits from having a bed of ash so, depending on use, will probably need cleaning out no more than once a week. In contrast a solid fuel stove should be riddled and the ash removed daily.

Click Here to Find out more about cleaning ash and setting a fire

 

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Q33. What is the difference between a solid fuel and multi fuel stove?

Essentially it's the type of grate they use. For burning wood a flat grate is required with air directed into the top of the fire. For solid fuel, air must be directed through the fuel from underneath (see Q30).

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Q34. How much heat does my fire or stove provide?

Manufacturers of fires and stove provide detail of outputs in their literature and are usually happy to provide further advice on the telephone or via their website. It's worth noting that manufacturer's literature often quotes the maximum output with the fire or stove burning continuously so an allowance should always be made for this and the time taken for your fire or stove to reach its optimum operating temperature.

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Q35. How much heat do I require for my room?

Many factors influence the heat requirements of a particular room or area such as the number of external walls, window size, number of doors, level of insulation and ventilation rate so itís worth having an accurate estimate before deciding on the appliance you are going to fit. If your house is centrally heated, the heat output from your fire or stove may not be essential for keeping the room comfortable in the depths of winter but may become more important in the spring and autumn when you may be able to do without central heating for much of the day.

Click Here to Find out more about how much heat your room will need

 

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Q36. Does all the heat go up the chimney?

The efficiency of a fire or stove usually indicates how much heat is lost up the chimney or flue. If a fire is say 70% efficient, 30% of the energy it consumes is lost although some or all of this ëlossí may be essential to keep the chimney or flue operating correctly. Flueless fires and gel fires are effectively 100% efficient.

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Q37. I do not have mains gas. Are there other options?

Some gas fires and gas stoves are also available for LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and your retailer will be able to advise you.

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Q38. Will the installation of my new fireplace damage my wallpaper?

Probably. A new fireplace needs to be securely fastened to the wall behind it and this usually requires brackets to be sunk into the surrounding plaster. Occasionally, a new fireplace may overlap the one it could be replacing and also offer a permanent fixing arrangement that will not damage the surrounding wall or wallpaper.

Click Here to Find out more about fireplace installation

 

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Q39. How do I clean the mantel and hearth?

Seek advice from your retailer or the manufacturer. Some fireplace materials require special care and itís best not to assume that a cleaner you previously found suitable will be just as good for your new fireplace. Some plaster fireplaces cannot be cleaned with water without the risk of damage.

Click Here to Find out more about cleaning and maintaining your fireplace

 

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Q40. How can I find my nearest retailer?

Visit www.fireplace.co.uk and click on find a retailer, which offers both postcode and name search facilities.

Click Here to Find a fireplace showroom

 

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Q41. Should I buy my fire or fireplace from an independent retailer or a multiple.

The choice is yours. Independent fireplace retailers derive their entire livelihood from the sale and installation of fireplaces whereas multiple retailers (sheds) often have many more product lines on offer. Independent retailers will usually be able to offer you an installation package via their own or sub-contracted staff whereas multiple retailers may simply provide you with the names and addresses of contractors you then have to make separate arrangements with. Both independent and multiple retailers are supplied by the leading manufacturers in the country although the latter sometimes offer versions of well known brands that are unique to them.

Click Here to Find a fireplace showroom

 

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Q42. If I purchase a fire or fireplace from the internet, what happens if anything goes wrong?

Any purchase you make is protected by law against defects in quality and workmanship so it is essential that you establish that the supplier has the full backing of the manufacturer whose products they are supplying. Some of those supplying products via the internet do so without the knowledge of the original equipment manufacturer who may then find it difficult to provide an after sales service. Any products purchased via the internet must be installed in accordance with precisely the same laws as those that affect all installations. Our advice is simple. Make your purchase from an established supplier of fires and fireplaces and whoever this is retain all the paperwork and documentation to ensure your legal rights are fully protected.

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Q43. Does the appliance price include fitting?

No. Unless it is specifically indicated, the cost of installation is in addition to the appliance or fireplace price. For those installation where both a new fireplace and fire are being fitted, your retailer will be able to provide a total installed price but may request a visit to your home for a survey to ensure there are no unusual installation conditions.

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Q44. Do I have to get planning or building permission for my new fireplace?

From the beginning of April 2005, it became a legal requirement to notify all work including new or replacement appliance installations to your local authority although this is now done automatically on your behalf by your Gas Safe Register installer. Please seek the advice of your retailer as specific ëapprovalí requirements vary from one local authority to another.

Find out more about Building Regulations

 

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Q45. Can I install a gas fire or gas stove myself?

No. It is illegal to install any gas appliance yourself unless you are a Gas Safe Registered installer. All gas appliances must be installed by a competent person such as a Gas Safe Register Installer and failure to do so may leave you open to prosecution and could also invalidate the manufacturerís guarantee.

Click Here to Find out how to check if your installer is legally allowed to fit your fire

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Q46. How long does it take to install a new fireplace?

Installation time for a new fireplace will obviously reflect the amount of work that has to be done but for most installations it will take no longer than a day and can often be finished in half a day.

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Q47. If I order my new fireplace and installation today, how long will I have to wait?

This varies depending on the availability of your retailers installing team but will usually be longer in the autumn and winter months than in the spring and summer. Your retailer may have all the products required in stock but may also have to wait for the manufacturer to supply him. Bespoke or special products usually take longer than standard products.

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Q48. What can I do if I donít have a gas supply near my fireplace?

Before selecting and purchasing a gas appliance it is always advisable to have a fireplace survey. If a gas supply needs to be piped to the fireplace the cost of doing this, needs to be added to the fireplace cost. The viability of the whole project can then be established.

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Q49. Do I have to have a Gas Safe registered fitter to build a fireplace?

No. There is no legal requirement for a fireplace (not a gas appliance) to be fitted by a Gas Safe Register installer although many are able to do such work and often undertake it. It is not therefore unusual for the fireplace to be fitted by your retailer of his staff and the gas fire or stove to be fitted by an engineer who calls separately.

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Q50. Can a Gas Safe Register installer fit my wood burning stove?

Yes, although it is only a legal requirement to use a Gas Safe Register installer if it is a gas stove. This does not apply for a wood, solid fuel or multifuel stove. For these we would strongly recommend that you ask your retailer to ensure that your stove is fitted by a HETAS qualified engineer.

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