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Wood Burning Stoves

As the cooler days commence, thoughts turn to heating your Bulgarian home. The most popular method is a wood or log burner but before you start you need to get to grips with the art of how to stack wood.

Generally, Bulgarian properties are heated with wood. It is readily available and gives out extraordinarily efficient heat. Most people, rather than having an open fireplace opt for a wood burning stove. After heating our home mainly with electric rads last year and paying a hefty price, we opted to go along with the majority of Bulgarians.


Choosing a Wood Burner

We did a thorough research on all the different possibilities. Wood burners which you can run rads from (like a mini form of central heating) through to just one stand along log burner. We were amazed at the amount of choice: multi-fuel, a range of kilowatts of heat, single and double openings, top openings, all sorts of sizes, etc.

We knew that we wanted a log burner which would heat the ground floor of the house efficiently and to a decent temperature, so that we could take our jumpers off. We weren't too worried about upstairs as we both like a cool bedroom at night. After searching for wood burning stoves for sale we opted for a stand alone wood burner from Mr Bricolage, with a single opening at the front and a glazed panel so that we could see the flames. We had it professionally installed and got a faktura in case of any problems later.

Get the Wood

Next step was getting the wood. Having lived with a log burner before, we were pretty familiar with how much wood you can get through but still sought our Bulgarian neighbour's advice. He recommended 8 cubic metres.

In our area to get the wood we had to visit the Forestry Commission armed with our residency permit to prove we had residency in Bulgaria. With this, the Forestry Commission were happy that we were entitled to a supply of wood. The wood was ordered with them in May and delivery was set for mid August.

Little did we know that the wood from the Forestry Commission is delivered in one metre lengths - not exactly the right size for our burner, which would take a max of 35 cms. However, our wonderful neighbour knew exactly what to do and organised for a bunch of chaps to come when the wood was delivered and cut it to size and then stack it in our log shed.

When the wood was delivered, it was 9pm at night and on a huge lorry. We moved our car pronto! Now, we live in a tiny lane so how he managed to get the lorry up there, we'll never know. Anyway, the logs were dumped outside our gate. It was a mountain of wood. We were terrified as he reversed the lorry back down the lane, hoping to goodness he didn't take out one of our neighbours' walls.

This mountain stayed there day after day and nobody had turned up to cut it; I nearly cried. But our Bulgarian neighbour did not let us down and a couple of weeks later, sure enough, a gang of locals turned up and cut the logs to size. Then a further group arrived and started a kind of shuttle system to stack the wood. We tried our hand at stacking and the first couple of piles just collapsed. "Best to watch what they're doing", was our thought. We watched and tried again... no good. In the end we had to be shown how to make the wood stay where we wanted it to be. Believe me, there really is an art to it - and also it's back breaking work, not for the faint hearted.

Tips and Hints on Wood Burners

Wood - is ordered in cubic metres. Generally it will arrive in one or two metre lengths; you'll have to organise cutting

Fires - wood burners are designed to heat a specific amount of space. Work out the space you want to heat and look at the wood burner's kw. If you are unsure, buy a larger kw than you think you need.

Overnight - always opt for one that will keep the fire in during the night. It will make all the difference to you the next morning.

Storage - think about where you're going to store sufficient wood in the house to keep the burner going. Constant trips to your log store (site this as close to your house as possible) in minus temperatures are very wearing.

Pipes - buy them at the same time as the wood burner to make sure you get the right size

Price - in our area, this year (2012) we paid 50 lv a cubic metre and for the cutting and stacking we paid a total of 100 lv

Type of Wood - it appears you get what you are given!

Rotation - make sure the wood is dry and if you can have a three year supply which you rotate.

Chimneys - you should have your chimney swept every year