Revealed: The Gadget For Using A Baxi Open Fire Properly… And Most People Never Even Realise it

Baxi open fires are among my favourite solid fuel appliances to sweep. They are a simple design and generally last for a long time. Many which were installed in the 1960s and 1970s are still used today.

If you’ve bought a house which has a Baxi open fire in a room which also has floorboards, then chances are you may have noticed a little lever on the front bar.

I find very few people know what this is for, but once they do, it’s a revelation.

The lever on a Baxi Open Fire

See, open fires need a large amount of air to burn well. Before the 1980s, this was never much of a problem as homes were still draughty places. But then came along double glazing. And loft insulation. More recently, it’s been cavity wall insulation. All of which means that the reduction of draughts of yesteryear (coupled with the prevelance of kitchen and bathroom extractor fans) may mean the fire does not work as well as it once did.

Luckily, those clever people at Baxi ‘future proofed’ it and installed a direct air supply which feeds the fire from underneath the floorboards. So the little lever you see on the fuel bar at the front is actually a damper, acting as an On/Off Air Flow Switch.

You can see from the photo below how the volume of air is controlled. On this fire, if you turn the lever to the right, the disc moves, allowing the air vent to be fully opened. It’s important to have it like this when you start the fire to allow as much oxygen as possible into the grate to get the fire ‘roaring’.

The lever positioned on the ‘open’ setting on this appliance

If you turn the lever to the left, it will open the air supply partially, thus restricting the flow but not completely shuttting it off.

If you put the lever in the middle, then the air vent is fully sealed and no air is introduced into the appliance.

I have found that some air vents work the opposite way while some don’t work at all, probably through wear and tear. The easiest way to check if yours is still working is to either ask your sweep to inspect it (I always do this and ensure it is not blocked with ash) or have a look yourself. To do this, make sure the fire hasn’t been used for a suitable amount of time beforehand and is cold. Simply remove the two-part grate, pull up the ash bucket and then have a feel for the vent, which will be directly beneath the lever in the ash pit.

The air vent fully open on a Baxi Open Fire

It also goes without saying that if you do buy a home with a Baxi open fire (or any solid fuel appliance for that mattter), you should have it swept by a registered sweep before you use it.

They will be able to give you bespoke advice on your fireplace. And if it’s a Baxi open fire, they will be able to give you live demo on how your air supply works.

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, St Helens, Ormskirk, Chorley and surrounding areas. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.

6 thoughts on “Revealed: The Gadget For Using A Baxi Open Fire Properly… And Most People Never Even Realise it

  1. Hi Mr Soot,
    I have a Baxi open fire with the under floor draft vent which “should” control the fire! I have completely replaced the vent & rod connector, it’s all clear & does work, opens & shuts fine, but I do not have any control over the fire, please help!
    Roy Lucas, Woking Surrey

    • Hello Roy, it’s hard to say without being there but the best thing is to ask a local sweep to come and and assist. There are a few things which could be causing an issue, such as lack of available air in the property as a whole or maybe the flue has an issue which is affecting the performance of the fire. To find a local sweep, visit

  2. Hello Roy, I have moved into a house with two baxi open fires which we love but how to you take the front plate with the draught controller off for cleaning?

  3. Hi Mr Soot, Its Mr Lucas from Woking I asked your opinion about a year ago. I still have problems with controlling the rate of burning of my open fire it goes like a rocket even with the valve under the suspended floor fully closed. I covered the double air brick up with cardboard this with the vent closed has given me control with the rate of burn. I have purchased a air vent which is to be fitted on the outside wall, the vent will give me a choice to open fully or parchally open, is it ok to close the vent fully & use the fire?

    • Hi Mr Lucas, thanks for your message. To be honest, it’s hard to give specific advice on this as I’ve not inspected your installation. I wouldn’t recommend modifications without seeking the services of a professional who has inspected your installation and can provide bespoke, onsite advice. Hope this helps, David

  4. HelloMr. Soot
    In such as Baxi open fireplace as shown above, is it safe / ok to build the fire with coat at the bottom and wood on top of it once the coal is burning?


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