Here are some of the most frequently asked questions posed to our customer services team.
Who should install the fireplace?
As each fireplace installation has specific requirements, it is strongly advised to use a qualified installation professional that knows the standards and regulations in force. Work carried out by certified professionals is often guaranteed for up to ten years. In certain countries, there may be tax credits available for installing high-efficiency fireplaces. Contact the Focus partner–retailer in your area for further information about the options where you live.
Are the fireplaces efficient for heating?
Yes. Our metallic fireplaces are designed to radiate and diffuse heat. Although Focus’s primary aim is aesthetic, the very nature of the materials used and their high quality enables performance to be allied with style. Steel is an excellent heat conductor. Depending on the model, a contiguous volume of up to 350 m3 can be kept warm by a Focus fireplace. The quality of the wood burned and the position of the fireplace in the home are important considerations for optimum heating efficiency.
Can you burn yourself?
A stove or a metal fireplace can reach high temperatures when a fire is burning and should not be touched with bare hands. However, the high heat generated by the unit is sufficient warning for both adults and children that the fireplace is hot to the touch. It is not advisable for very young children to be left alone in a room in which a fire is burning in any type of fireplace.
Since 1970, the date when Focus was founded, we have no knowledge of anyone suffering a burn from any of our fireplaces (Ref. AXA Insurance Policy No. 283412004).
Do the glass panels get dirty?
The pyroceramic glass panels on certain Focus models resist very high temperatures. As with any glass, it is necessary to clean it regularly. The frequency depends on several factors.
• Adequate ventilation of the glass panels can limit build-up; if the fireplace is used with the combustion air control or the damper in a position that is too closed, this can accelerate the darkening of the glass. It is essential to find a good compromise between economising on fuel and ensuring good ventilation. As you use your fireplace in different atmospheric conditions, adjust the draught controls accordingly to achieve the right balance.
• The quality of the wood and its moisture content are also important factors. We strongly advise against using conifer wood (pine, fir, larch, etc.). The gases and smoke from the burning resin of these woods rapidly accumulate on the glass panels and the interior of the flue, blackening the former and reducing the width of the latter considerably, which could be dangerous.
• Wood with a moisture content higher than 20% will emit more and denser smoke and cause the glass panels to darken more rapidly.
• If the chimney is not swept regularly, this can also lead to a build-up of tarry residue on the glass.
Do the focus fireplaces draw well?
The ability of a flue to draw smoke well depends on where the fireplace is installed and positioned. The length and width of the flue create the low pressure that extracts the smoke. The flue must also comply with regulations regarding how it provides a smoke outlet through the roof. For each fireplace, we recommend a minimum flue length (with a constant width throughout the length of the flue). This enables us to guarantee that all our fireplaces operate well in conditions that comply with the regulations. The supply of fresh air is also essential for the optimal operation of a fireplace.
Which is the best wood to use?
Different types of wood have different calorific values and they do not all burn in the same way.
• It is preferable to use hard woods such as oak, birch, beech, ash, etc. These produce robust flames and a substantial bed of embers that stays incandescent for a long time.
• To avoid noxious fumes and to care for your fireplace, its glass panels (if it has them), the flue, the environment and your health, NEVER burn the following materials:
- resinous woods such as pine, fir, spruce and other conifers. These generate a lot of heat, but they burn quickly, throw off sparks, and the resin they contain builds up inside the hearth and flue.
- salvaged wood (timber, beams, planks, etc.)
- treated or painted wood
- chipboard offcuts (plywood, etc.)
- crates and pallets
- books and newspapers (except for lighting purposes)
- cartons with plastic or any plastic-derived products
Don’t confuse your fireplace with your rubbish bin. Waste and rubbish can rapidly transform the former to an incinerator producing unpleasant odours, not to mention the release of toxic gases into the atmosphere.
What moisture content is recommended for firewood?
For the optimal performance of your fireplace, it is essential to burn dry wood. The maximum moisture content for a log ready to burn is 20%. Depending on how it is stored, wood can be burned 18–24 months after it is cut. The storage conditions for wood are very important. Wood should be stacked in a dry and well-ventilated location. Ideally it should be stored under a cover, with the sides left open for sufficient ventilation. Do not place logs directly on the ground, but on pallets or wooden planks to allow air to circulate around them. If wood is not stored properly, it can become moist and thus burn less efficiently and emit pollutants as it burns.
Can you cook food in the fireplace?
Yes! Focus fireplaces strive to combine both the aesthetic and the practical advantages of fire. Many of our customers use their fireplaces for cooking. We regularly receive new recipes they have come up with. These have been compiled in a Focus recipe book that we provide free of charge on request.
Are the built-in fireplaces a fire risk?
All our fireplace models designed to be built into walls have an incombustible framework and are well insulated with high-quality materials. We require that these integrated fireplaces be installed by professional engineers. The structure the fireplace is built into must also be incombustible and the interior insulated (preferably with mineral wool).
These models must be correctly ventilated, so air vents are essential. For obvious aesthetic reasons, if possible, these should be positioned where they are not visible. We would be happy to advise you based on your particular situation.
When should the chimney be swept?
To avoid the risk of poisoning, to protect people and possessions from fire and to reduce air pollution, both the fireplace and flue must be kept clean.
Chimney-sweeping involves manually cleaning the inside of the flue and the fireplace to remove accumulated soot and ensure the chimney is free of deposits along its entire length. Manual chimney-sweeping consists of passing metal or nylon brushes several times through the entire length of the chimney and then removing the soot that falls onto the hearth. The regulations differ from country to country; in France, chimneys that are used regularly must be swept twice a year, at least once during the period when the fireplace is used. The Focus partner–retailer in your area can advise on the regulations in force where you live.
Using fire or explosive substances to clean flues is strictly prohibited. Sweeping and inspections must be carried out by installation engineers or by qualified chimney sweeps, who will provide a certificate that the work has been completed. Many insurance companies require this certificate in case of an accident.
Is there a guarantee?
Our fireplaces are designed and made in France. Although we are not required by law to provide a guarantee, we are so convinced of the quality of our hand-produced fireplaces and of their long-term durability that all our wood-burning models come with an exceptional five-year guarantee against any design flaw or structural or manufacturing defect (except for glass breakage or parts subject to wear and tear such as grates, seals, base plates, vermiculite plates, etc.).
Focus guarantees that the fireplace will operate at optimal efficiency when the recommendations and the rules of installation of the chimney are respected.
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