An ongoing theme throughout all the work that’s been done on this house is the stove.
I researched the model to purchase thoroughly, reading articles on the internet and even speaking to chimney sweeps and potential fire fitters.
The model I came up with was a Dunsley Yorkshire, built like a brick outhouse – actually in this case, even more solid than a brick outhouse. A stove that fire fitters told me that they’d fitted examples decades ago and weren’t surprised that they were still working. A stove they rarely kept parts for as they just didn’t need them. A stove that had been little modified in decades, a standard, a benchmark, a stove as synonymous with quality as Rolls Royce is to the petrol engine.
I had realised on purchase that it was a little under-powered for the task in hand, maybe a bit short on KW for heating the house, but that was not the intention, the idea of this stove was to supplement the other heating methods, I did not intend have a light railway delivering fuel to the boiler in the living room. A stove was a finite deliverer of heat, no matter what the figures provided, the heat arising from a stove is totally proportional to the wood or coal burned on the fire. There were other stoves of a similar stature, identical cubic inches in the fire box, and negligible differences in efficiency but claiming to turn out double the heat to the back boiler. I shook these claims off and in my mind were the figures claimed by 1970s cheapo amplifier manufacturers, claiming that their tinny little boxes would out-boom a more sussed piece of amplifier hardware. I recalled the little NAD 3020 with 20 Watts peak output out-boxing those claiming 100 Watts, my Dunsley being the NAD 3020.
The idea of the stove was to charge the thermal store too, the oil boiler could get the heating up to speed, but once there the fire would catch up and upon reaching temperature the stove would supply the radiators and any excess could stack up the temperature in the store for later. The idea too would be to add further technologies to the thermal store in the future, biomass boilers and wet solar being ideas for the future.
All a good plan but I’d these plans had not gone to plan from the start.
The stove arrived and was fitted by Hetas engineers and they did a wonderful job of it too, I couldn’t however fire up the stove until the back-boiler was connected to the thermal store and all the necessary failsafes put in place.
The engineer fitting the thermal store did an excellent job of most of the work but when it came to plumbing in the store and the stove he did make a few bad calls, he also constantly criticised the work done by the stove fitters and was inclined to take apart their work on a whim. He would remove Vermiculite and generally screw around with the stove fitters work and he would also be quite vociferous about what he thought of the building work done near the fire. At one point he chased some pipework into the chimney breast and then thought the building was coming down (he’d noticed a crack that he’d not realised had been there already) so then he surfaced mounted it – damaging some cornicing and making a pigs ear of the work – before I asked him to chase it in again and before my builder had had some choice words with him regarding remarks he’d made about the construction work.
All along too he complained about the plans supplied with the thermal store and rather than speak with the incredibly helpful Matt at HTG he decided to do the fitting as he saw fit. This lead to a lot of unnecessary expense, heat dump radiators were fitted, numerous failsafe thermostats were fitted, lots and lots of expense, he even charged me for the work he’d done unnecessarily on the chimney breast even though it was work he’d decided needed to be done.
I came in one day just after the first firing of the stove to find water leaking through the living room ceiling.
This was not going to plan.
The stove too wasn’t having a good time, firing it up was proving a big headache, it would just roll smoke and cloud out the room. It would never get to speed and was just a complete disappointment. I wasn’t happy, so I did a bit of detective work and I removed the stove pipe to find it full of broken bricks, my wonderful heating engineer again, he’d knocked out some bricks in the chimney while exploring routes for the plumbing and had neglected to remove them from the stove pipe.
Anyway finding this out I thought I’d found the solution, this was one of those things that one presumes will be an instant fix but disappointingly the problems remained. I then got in touch with Dunsley and they put me in touch with one of their troubleshooters the wonderful David Brook.
I spoke with David at length, I told him of the misfortunes that had beset my install of my lovely Yorkshire boiler and he was surprised to note that I’d not had the chimney lined, but instead had listened to the fire fitters and gone for a plain chimney install. David recommended having the chimney lined and also using a technology called ChimWrap to bolster performance.
Anyway I got back in touch with the firefitters and they explained that they’d fitted the fire in good faith to a bare chimney as there was nothing in the Dunsley literature to indicate that it should be fitted to a lined one. I trusted the firefitters, they were a great crew, the fabulous Gav is a spectacular chap and more than happy to help, at one point he’d actually even volunteered his afternoon gratis to try to get my fire up and running.
Anyway cutting to the chase we fitted a fresh liner, top-spec as dictated by David but I neglected to get the ChimWrap, I’m not too sure why but I reckon that cost had a lot to do with it. Still that day we got the liner up the chimney we fired up the stove and hey presto all was well, it lit and all went well
Anyway months passed before I could try out the fire again but when I did there were problems. I’d hastily lit it and I’d got the rolling smoke, upon lighting it just didn’t get to temperature and the thermal store took an age to move up a degree or two.
There was also a problem where I realised I’d mistakenly purchased the wood-burner instead of a multi-fuel and Dunsley and Homecare Heating of Darlington kindly sources the conversion kit and sold it to me at cost.
Looking now at what happened I think I was just so exasperated by the whole affair that the one failure had been too much for me. I might have had a bad weekend I can’t remember but I basically filmed myself trying to light the fire and then posted it up on YouTube and sent off an email to Dunsley explaining my dilemma.
I wasn’t being vindictive, I’d spent thousands of pounds and wasn’t getting anywhere quickly. I’d had floods, belligerent heating engineers, freezing cold, smoked out rooms and at this point all I could do was blame the stove.
I didn’t realise what I’d done and a family business weren’t too happy about me posting up videos on YouTube regarding their tried and tested super-stove. I really don’t recommend posting up videos on YouTube to get a response in Dunsley’s case as they’re generally very responsive in the first case.
Next thing I knew and David was in touch again. He insisted on a visit and I was very happy to entertain him.
Upon his expected arrival I decided that I should do some homework.
At this point I discovered what a Laddomat was and the probable reason for my stove not charging the store properly.
Also I found the literature for the stove and the recommended routine for lighting it.
Approaching this methodically I then cleaned the stove, I lit it properly and I slowly coaxed it into life working from the back to the front.
It worked perfectly.
The next day David arrived, I had tried to intercept him but he was adamant that he should visit.
David is a fantastic chap, his knowledge about all things Dunsley is exceptional and he’s a fount of knowledge regarding many other elements of heating. I apologised for inviting him over, having already answered my own questions and I also apologised having potentially caused problems for Dunsley with my YouTube posting, but I did point out to him the frustrating series of events I’d been through.
You’d have thought that David would have been there and gone, but he must have stayed for nearly three hours. He stayed and we went through my installation with a fine toothed comb, nothing was too much trouble, he was brilliant. I spent a fantastic afternoon chatting with him and learned a lot, he approved my Laddomat idea, he insisted on having words with my fire-fitter regarding some things that they should have done and he remonstrated with me regarding my choice not to get ChimWrap installed.
He was actually in a bit of a pickle that day too, he had a close relative in hospital but despite this he found time to spend hours with me helping me in my own personal pickle, despite having been such a prannit and posting up the video on YouTube.
I cannot say how much I appreciate the work he put in that day and that Dunsley have such a wonderful resource to hand too.
Anyway to light a Dunsley Yorkshire:
- Do not use paper it bungs up the flu
- Do not use damp or wet wood
- Clean out the fire, remove all ash.
- Turn the dial on the side to fully open the air inlet.
- Open the vent inlet on the top of the door.
- Make sure that the lower door covering the ash grate is closed
- Adjust the grate (if a multi-fuel) to the setting for wood.
- Light two or three firelighters and place them right at the back of the firebox underneath the flu if possible.
- Place kindling slowly on top of the firelighters allowing them to burn.
- Keep increasing the kindling allowing the flames to gain purchase.
- Close the main door, don’t close it totally, basically while the door is open, turn the doorhandle as if to lock the door, then push the door closed onto this latch, the latch for the door will stop it closing totally. The fire should blaze fiercely now with the door slightly ajar.
- Stock it with more kindling and heavier wood now, close the door on the latch again and once flaming then close the door entirely. The fact that the air-inlets at the top of the door are open should provide ample air to get the fire going very fiercely.
- Stock the fire box full of wood now, close the main door and once it’s going strongly close the vent on the top of the door and use the dial to regulate the flames.
I find that once going well it’s a good idea to have a base of red hot coals or ovoids in the fire, this means that logs will burst into flames once introduced into the firebox and especially in the case of ovoids you have a medium whereupon switching down the dial will allow and overnight burn.
Anyway thanks again to the patience of Dunsley and Dave Brook their wonderful engineer and thanks for producing such a spectacular piece of kit in the Dunsley Yorkshire stove.
It’s taken its time but that all really down to lots of unforeseen problems, generally problems with nothing to do with the stove at all. The Dunsley Yorkshire has proved to be an absolutely wonderful stove. It is built like a tank, it has a couple of foibles with lighting and chimney conditions but once fitted properly it is absolutely foolproof and an excellent piece of kit. I can’t wait to get the Laddomat working with it, it’s gunning away as I type, pumping out tons of heat, just a wonderful fire.
Oh and did I mention it’s Defra approved, so it’s green too!