Regularly check the areas close to the chimney – ceiling, roof trusses etc – for colouration or other heat damage. Check after the 1st fire and thereafter at least once a season.
Things to check before your 1st fire
- Clean the the pipe thoroughly with an alchohol based solvent (eg Methelated Sprits, Benzine). Any fingerprints left by the installers will burn into the surface unless cleaned thoroughly.
- The inner pipe of the double insulated Endcap flu MUST be pulled down by at least 60mm up to a maximum of 300mm. The raised ring machined into the inner pipe must not be snug up against the shiny endcap moulding.
- Dust the pot and wipe clean with a damp cloth – no detergent.
- Unscrew the ceiling plate and check for adequate insulation around the pipe where it goes through.
- Make sure that the pipe fits snugly into the cast iron flue ring up to the raised bulge in the pipe. Also check that no fire cement has been used here – the fibreglass rope is all that is required.
- Has the fire cement been applied only on the inside of the pot at the pot/lid join? (must dry for 12 hours)
- Dry sand in the bottom of the pot up to just below the mouth. Vermiculite (available from nurseries) can also be used.
- If possible, check the water seal on the roof. Water with a hose and make sure no water is running down the outside OR the inside of the chimney. Alternatively, check after or during a rain storm.
Best way to light a fire
Always use seasoned, dry wood or charcoal to make a fire. Coal or Anthracite is not suitable as it needs a secondary airflow for complete combustion. However, you can place a lump or two into a hot wood fire to prolong the heat output.
The most efficient way to use your Earthfire, is to build a large fire initially. Once the pot is hot – this takes about 25min – the heat is stored in the clay body and is radiated out slowly. Much like a hot rock – you will only need to add 3 or 4 logs to the fire every 45min to an hour. It does not smell after a fire or smoke into the room, like many open fireplace do, because the ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the chimney is optimized for a strong draw. The wood is burnt to a very fine ash that does not smell or take up a lot of space
- Build against the back wall of the pot
- Place 2 pieces of wood a bit apart touching the back wall and pointing to the mouth.
- Put 3 pieces on top at a 90 degree angle and another 3 on top at 90 degrees
- Put a firelighter on the sand just in front of the wood and light.
Be careful when using newspaper as a fire-starter – it could get sucked up and lodge in the chimney. If you have an inline damper in the chimney pipe, make sure it is set in the “open” position before starting a fire.
IMPORTANT: Never throw logs into the firepot. The clay is mechanically strong, but repeated impacts can cause damage to the back wall.
Care, maintenance and safety
- Your fireplace will only need cleaning every 25 to 30 fires. When the ash deposit gets too high, simply brush out the excess down to the original level.
- IMPORTANT: Break up the hard crust that forms on top of the sand at least once a month.
- If you get fingermarks on your Stainless Steel chimney, wipe down with a solvent (see above) and polish with a clean, cloth.
- Regularly dust the pot and wipe down with a damp rag if necessary. Foreign particles like dust may cause an acrid smell when hot. Never use detergent.
- Never make a fire in a wet pot or a pot with wet sand.
- If water has leaked down either the inside or outside of the chimney, have it fixed immediately. Take out all the sand and dry the pot by leaving a light bulb or small halogen or incandescant lamp inside it over night. Replace dry sand and make a small, slow fire for the 1st hour of use.
- Should a small chip occur in the glaze, rub a little shoe polish of the closest colour match into the white clay when the firplace is cooling after a fire.
- It is good practise to check any fireplace installation at least once a season – inspect the ceiling and roof timbers in the vicinity of the pipe. Also make sure no water is entering at the rain seal. If necessary, have the chimney swept. Excessive soot build-up inside the chimney can restrict the airflow and cause poor draw.
- Pipe pulls out of the lid when cooling: If this movement is not excessive, simply pull the pipe down before making a fire. If movement exceeds 20mm it means that the pipe is too tight in the roof – it expands when hot and when it cools there is less resistance on the lid side, so the pipe pulls up. Get the installer to rectify.
- Acrid smell: Dust the pot and wipe thoroughly with a damp rag. (The painted flue ring may smell initially). The inside of the fireplace should be relatively soot free – if a layer of soot is visible on the inside of the lid surface, brush it off and make a hot fire using dry, seasoned wood. Green or very dense woods (like Namibian thornwood) are more prone to this.
- Smokes while starting a fire: Check the sand level. Build the fire against the back wall of the pot and place the firelighter on the sand in front of the wood/charcoal.
- Smokes all the time There is a restriction in the chimney or cowl. The chimney must never be smaller than 125mmID anywhere along its length. If you have a damper installed in the chimney, ensure that it is in the open position when starting a fire. The insulation material in the insulated pipe may creep upwards over time if not secured – check that the cowl is not obstructed. When securing the insulation material, take care not to fasten the inner pipe as well – it must be free to slide.
- Smoke or ash blows back in strong wind: The outside chimney length may be too short – swirls and eddies off the roof structure, neighboring trees or buildings interferes with draw. In some cases this can be caused by down drafts from mountains. Lengthen the chimney or install an extractor. If ash only blows out when the fireplace is not in use, fitting an inline damper in the chimney and closing it (effectively blocking off the chimney) when not using the fireplace will remedy the problem. Remember to open the damper when starting a fire.