Cracked firebricks, frayed rope seal, warped throat/baffle plate… if you’re a stove owner, then this will be a familiar list. Don’t worry, because in fact all of these are perfectly natural.
Most people are unaware that pretty much everything inside a stove is classed as a consumable, and replacements are usually available (dependent on the age of the appliance).
Some people leave it years before getting their stove maintained, but that’s a bad move. Because spending the money at the time will save you money in the long run.
These usually go around the inner perimeter of your stove door. When the door closes, it helps form a firm seal. This is important because the efficiency of your stove depends on the amount of air which is fed to the flames inside.
If your rope is frayed, or indeed missing, it will be letting excessive air into the firebox. Over just one burning season, this can be very costly. I had one new customer who said that their fuel log bill last year was £200 more than the previous year, although the prices had remained static. When I looked at the stove, the rope seal had disappeared. They had to burn massive amounts to keep the fire ‘fed’.
Some open fires with clay firebacks have rope seals in them, and these should be checked regularly and replaced as necessary.
Most bricks are made from either clay or vermiculite. They can crack over time for a number of reasons; mostly to do with the expansion and contraction as they get hot and cold. They can also get damaged if you’re a bit too enthusiastic when refuelling your stove and end up hitting one of the bricks.
Bricks help protect the cast iron/metal casing of your stove from the intense hear. Over time, if not replaced, cracks will continue to let heat through and this can cause damage to the stove itself. Once this happens, the stove’s lifespan will start to shorten and you could end up with having to get a new one much earlier than you bargained for.
Warped/Cracked Baffle and Throat Plates
These are usually made of metal or vermiculite and can be found at the top underside of the stove. On some models, they are easily visible, but on other makes, it’s usually only the chimney sweep who sees them when he or she take them out to gain access to the flue.
Baffle and throat plates are a key component in making your stove efficient. It stops the flames (and heat) simply rising up into the flue. Inside, it deflects the flames, meaning they spend more time in the firebox, and therefore give out more heat.
A warped or cracked plate can, again, seriously reduce the efficiency of your stove. They can also make it very difficult for your chimney sweep to gain access to the flue. Some plates are very tight even when new, so a few millimeters of warping can mean that they refuse to come out. At this point, there’s no other option but to grind them out replace them with a new one.
Keep an eye on your throat/baffle plates by taking them out of the stove every month (follow the manufacturer instructions on how to do this). You’ll usually find some ash or even soot on top of the plate. Simply brush this carefully into a bin, and put it back into the appliance. This not only helps you keep an eye on its condition, but helps the stove work better by removing debris. It can also help spot early warning signs that something is amiss. For instance, shiny flecks or clumps of crispy soot can indicate tar in the flue. If you find that, get a professional chimney sweep in as there may be an issue which needs dealing with
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service in Wigan, Stockport, Southport, Ormskirk, Chorley and surrounding areas. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.