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If you want heat, get an old-fashioned one with white radiants (or chalks, as they used to be called). This is because they give off radiant heat, which comes straight out of the fire to warm the room at foot-level, as well as convected heat from the grill at the top. Fuel-effect fires are convector heater fires, so take much longer to warm a room, as they rely on the heat rising and then dropping again to floor-level, by which time most of the heat has been lost at ceiling-height. However, if you have a radiator in the room (or other heat source), which will be on at the same time as the fire, a fuel-effect fire is a good back-up and nice focal-point. Many fuel-effect fires are VERY expensive to run. When buying one, be sure to ask about the running costs - ask about its efficiency and you can work out for yourself how much it will cost to run. You will be amazed at how low the efficiency rating is on most fuel-effect fires in comparison to radiant fires.
How do you know when a fire is working properly? Fuel-effect fires are meant to have yellow flames often, but they shouldn’t be forming soot. There is something wrong if a fire is forming soot, you may be using it incorrectly. Lots of people don’t get the fire hot enough before turning it down, that is very common. All fuel-effect fires need to be put on FULL for at least ¼ of an hour, then you can turn them down. If you want to turn it up again later, you should turn it to full again for a couple of minutes before you turn it to the number that you want (this is to get the back of the fuel bed hot). You aren’t saving money by not doing this, you are shortening the life of your fire and they are expensive! Radiant Fires. The flame should be blue, or almost clear, as you look at it at the bottom. Then they glow orange, which tends to worry people as they believe the orange flame is dangerous. The dangerous flame is yellowy-orange and floppy that is easily blown to one side. These sort of flames start to form soot on the radiants and they go discoloured and dark. When it goes like the burner is blocked and you get fumes. Any fire should be stripped right down and the burner washed - not just blown. It is no good just running a vacuum over it. If you can get a small rubber tube inside the burner and then attach it to your vacuum that is as good as a wash and increases the lifespan of the burner because you aren’t getting it full of water. Again, nobody checks gas pressure or gas rates - because they are difficult to alter as they don’t put governors on fires anymore, it has to be altered at the meter. So a lot of people don’t bother doing that.
SERVICING Gas fires need servicing regularly. Very regularly if you have pets or if you vacuum a lot, because dog and cat hairs get into the fire and the vacuum kicks up the dust from the carpet into the fire. A lot of people think their fire has been serviced if the engineer has just looked at it, but a good service should involve a lot more than that. · To properly service a fire, it should be taken off the wall and cleaned. Very few engineers take fires away from the wall. They don’t take the burners out and wash them, as they should do. Quite often engineers don’t use heat-resistant tape to stick the closure plate back on. They will use parcel tape or sellotape and it comes off within a matter of days and lets fumes into the room. · The air relief holes in the bottom of the closure plates can be a problem. People never look to see whether they should be left open or closed (it varies with every installation - lots of engineers just leave them wide open, they are better left closed). The manufacturers’ instructions give you an indication of what to do, but you have to go by the amount of flue-pull. Some people will throw a smoke bomb in and say it is fine - they don’t go outside and look how fast it is going up, or whether there is any smoke coming out from the stack itself. That will tell you whether the stack needs pointing, because that will break the flue-pull. If it comes out of more than one chimney pot, the mid-feathers have gone on the stack. You need to make sure the engineer goes outside and has a good look to see what is going on with the smoke outside. It is no use saying it went up - it could be going up into the loft-space, it will still go up (but once it gets hot it won’t and all the fumes will come into the room). With fuel-effect fires, not many people put the logs or coals back properly. They have to go in in the right position. This causes fires to soot up and give off fumes. People clean them themselves and put them back any old way. There is nothing wrong with cleaning them yourself if you keep the instruction manual and see where each individual coal or log goes. People seem to think they can just go anywhere.
We are going to in the process of looking for a fire for our new house in the next few weeks, good op.
Xelavie 18.07.2001 04:00
I cannot relate much to this opinion simply because we don't need heaters here in the Philippines. Being a tropical country, there are times that an airconditioner is a must. But yes, I understand your needs of a heater because I've been to London in 1986. Keep on writing good ops... Alex
mjhenderson 07.06.2001 13:58
Great advice. I can tell my parents how to stop soot coming off their effect fire, and when I next get a gas certificate I can check whether the gas man's doing it right.