Ok, so if you’re reading this you’re most likely wondering whether a burning stove is for you. Well, full disclosure: I do own a wood burning stove and I think they are awesome. That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t drawbacks to owning a wood burning stove. So, in an effort to provide you with some food for thought, here are what I think are the major disadvantages to owning a wood burning stove.
Again, if it were down to me, I think everybody should have a stove, so I’ll end this article on a positive note about why I think wood burning stoves are actually so cool.
Drawback number one: wood burning stoves are enormously expensive.
Yeah yeah yeah – I know that one, you’re probably thinking. Well that doesn’t mean it isn’t a major drawback!
Depending on the stove you buy, a wood burning stove can easily set you back anywhere between £1000 and £2,000.
Add to that the fact that you’re likely to pay another £1000 to £1,500 on other things (like your chimney flue, harth etc.), as well as installation, and things start to really add up.
And then … add in the cost of a season’s worth of logs…
The total cost of buying, installing and running a wood-burning stove could cost up to around £4000.
So what? I hear you say. They’re cool.
Indeed they are, and no arguments from me! But it’s worth pointing out that if you light, say, 100 fires in your first year of owning one, then you’re essentially paying around £40 a fire.
This thought often crossed my mind the first year I owned my wood-burning stove.
That said, it quickly vanished from my mind as soon as my house was warm and cosy, and there was a fire flickering in the living room.
So, yes they cost a lot, but in my view they are absolutely worth it.
It’s also worth mentioning that obviously a stove lasts a lot longer than a year, so my “£40” a fire calculation only applies if you use it solely for a year!
However, ignoring the costs of the stove, if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up spending about £300 a year on wood… Based on some calculations I made about how much it costs to own a wood burning stove, the “per fire” cost is around £3.50 for me!
Drawback two: Wood burning stoves are messy AF
I don’t care who tells it to you, but if anyone says that wood burning stoves don’t cause a mess then they’re lying.
The wood burning stove is a constant source of mess in our house. It doesn’t really matter what you do, you’ll always end up with ash on your hearth during winter.
When I first was looking at the pros and cons of owning a wood burning stove, I came across the fact that they were regarded as messy and ignored it.
I thought to myself the a few bits of ash on the hearth would be easy to keep at bay. After all, can’t you just clean it up?
No! You can’t!
You see, the annoying thing is that during winter you most likely have your fire lit most days.
As a result, any ash spills that happened in the evening can’t easily be cleaned up because the ash is hot.
Then, the next day comes around, you see the ash on the hearth and you think to yourself but there’s no point cleaning that up because the fire is going to be lit later this evening.
Instead you just get used to having a little pool of ash around a wood burning stove. In our house, it ends up getting cleaned up about once or twice a week in winter – sure you can clean it every morning, but who’s got time for that? (There are though, some cool uses for left over wood ash)
Now there’s another source of mess that no one really seems to talk about, and that’s mess from the logs that you burn.
It doesn’t matter how clean you think your logs are, the moment you bring them into the house, they leave a little pile of bark and tiny chippings wherever you put them.
So again if anyone tells you wood burning stoves don’t cause a mess, they’re most definitely not telling the truth.
And I haven’t even started here on how to keep your wood burning stove glass clean.
Disadvantage three: Wood burning stoves can annoy your neighbours (or, at least make you feel guilty)
Setting aside the perhaps more serious research emerging about the impacts of pollution from wood burning stoves, owning a wood burner is at the very least something that has the potential to annoy your neighbours.
This is because, no matter what you do, including lighting top down fires, you will end up producing smoke from your chimney stack. Granted, if you go for a Defra approved stove, then day-to-day smoke will be minimal. But no matter what you do, there will be times when smoke will billow from your chimney.
Now, all being well, this shouldn’t cause anyone any issues. But, on every street, we all know there will always be “that guy” who jumps at the chance to complain, gripe and moan.
Sadly, I do know a few people who have been on the receiving end of “that guy” after they lit up their burners.
Luckily, it didn’t really go any further than a few cross words, but it’s never nice to be on the receiving end of “that guy.”
All that being said, I’ve never – touch wood – had any issues with neighbours about mine. In fact a few of the old boys give me offcuts to use as kindling!
Disadvantage four: wood burners are a bit of a chore
Let’s face it: no matter which way you cut it, woodburners present a bit of an extra household chore.
Not only do they require regular cleaning, but stoves also require regular maintenance.
Then there are the organisation elements to think about. I’m talking about things like arranging for your chimney to be swept, organising log deliveries (and then stacking them), as well as replacing your rope seals every so often.
You also have to think about things like buying firelighters and making sure you’ve got a good supply of kindling.
Then add to that the fact that every time you want to have a fire, you have to traipse outside to gather up some logs, and “on paper” it can start to look a little tedious.
I think it’s safe to say that most people with a stove enjoy doing these chores.
Sure, sometimes you don’t always feel like doing something, but most of the tasks you have to do are simple, and straightforward. Even… fun.
I think it boils down to the mentality of people who own wood stoves.
Let’s face it, in this day and age 99% of people live in houses that don’t actually need a stove.
So the people that get one installed have done it because they like the feeling of having an independent heating source. They like having a neatly stacked wood store, and they like splitting kindling.
Summary: Disadvantages of owning a wood burning stove
So, if you’ve just read all of the above, and started to have doubts about whether to buy a wood stove, then let me add in some balance.
For me, it’s been one of the single biggest home improvements we’ve made.
All of the mess, maintenance and chores aside, there really is a comfort to coming back home after a rubbish day at work and lighting up a fire.
I think it’s got something to do with the simplicity of it all.
Fire is comforting, and being able to light one whenever you want, is really reassuring.
For me, it acts like a de-stressor. As soon as it’s lit, it’s like everything is just a little bit simpler.
Add to that the fact that having one also means you know your house will always be warm no matter if your heating breaks or you have a power cut (both have happened to us), and the positives really do start to outweigh the occasional annoyances. (If you’re like me and like having things for “just in case” scenarios – consider installing a water butt in your garden too! Having a fire and a source of water for toilet flushing during a power and water cut recently was a lifesaver)
If you’re still in two minds about whether to buy a wood burning stove, then I’ll end with a simple question:
Imagine owning a stove. It’s winter and your log store is stacked full with neat rows of wood, and there’s a fire lit inside. How does that make you feel?
If, on reading that, you just shrugged your shoulders – then maybe a wood burning stove isn’t for you. If you read that and thought, “I want some of that” well, welcome to the stove club!