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Ask the Experts: What do I need to consider when installing a wood burner in my holiday home?

Ask the experts…

Q. The cost of central heating is already inclusive for guests staying in our holiday cottage. We are considering installing a wood burner too. If we do so, will we need to provide wood too? Is there anything else we should consider?

A. The Helpful Holidays team say:

Open fires and wood burners are popular with holidaymakers and installing a wood burner will give your property year-round appeal, boosting your low season bookings.

Don’t assume people will know how to light and operate the wood burner; instructions in your information folder may be useful. You should lay the fire ready for your guests’ arrival and provide sufficient fuel for the first night, but you don’t need to provide free logs for an entire booking. Some holiday home owners supply a store of logs or coal, together with an honesty box and details of how much to pay per basket; you should make this arrangement clear when your guests book the property. We find this a convenient arrangement. If you don’t have space to store fuel or aren’t able to replenish the supply regularly, leave information on where it can be purchased locally.

Be prepared to start your changeover routine by cleaning out the ash; holidaymakers may not think to do so and it can be a messy job. Fire irons should be provided and, if you opt for an open fire, a fire guard is a must. A rug in front of the wood burner can be a less expensive option than replacing carpet in case of scorch marks from sparks or embers.

As well as correctly situated smoke alarms, you need to install a carbon monoxide detector, all of which should be tested on every changeover day and batteries renewed regularly. Don’t forget to schedule regular visits from a qualified chimney sweep to avoid the risk of chimney fires; Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service recommends sweeping the chimney every three months when burning wood and annually when using coal or smokeless fuels.