FAQs

This page is a collection of some of the questions we are asked regularly about products related to the fuel types listed below.

GASWOODPELLET

Can I change over from LP Gas to Natural Gas?

Normally, you can change your gas fireplace from using propane to running on natural gas without a problem. You’ll need to change some parts with a gas conversion kit and it’s best to get a certified professional to carry out this job to ensure everything is performed safely. You don’t want to run into problems with your conversion, so get Continue Reading


Do I need to clean my glass door or is it self-cleaning?

Over time, your glass door will eventually start to accumulate deposits, which should be cleaned on an annual basis to look after the glass. You can clean the glass more often if you see deposits building up sooner.


Why is there a smoky smell coming from my new gas fireplace or stove?

Initially, a new fire can emit smoke and/or smells produced due to the painting and finish on your stove or fire. When you first use your fire, the paint will ‘cure’ and some of the finish will burn off. All you need to do is let some fresh air into your room and the initial smell will soon disappear. If Continue Reading


How can I make my stove safe for children?

Protect children and animals from the intense heat a gas heating appliance can give off. Often, the heat of the flames is enough to get children to keep their distance but you may need to take additional steps. You can buy an attractive fire screen to protect your fire and children safe from the heat and flames too.


Why does my pilot light go out?

If you follow the instructions above to light your pilot light, make sure you keep holding down the control knob in the ignite position for as long as a minute after the pilot light has been lit by the igniter. This helps to make sure the flame is lit and stable. If you’re still having problems with the pilot light Continue Reading


Does my pilot light need to stay on all year round?

Regardless of whether you’re using your fire all year round or not, it’s best to leave the pilot light on all year round. It will only use a tiny amount of gas and turning the pilot light off can lead to problems that will need to be fixed. Running the pilot light all year round will keep your system working Continue Reading


How can I re-ignite my pilot light?

First of all, ensure your gas supply is turned on. When you’re sure that it is, look for your control panel which is behind a door or behind fireplace grates. Locate igniter and on/off knobs which are beside each other. The first one is usually red or black. Then turn the on/off knob to the “pilot” setting and push it Continue Reading


How do I switch my gas appliance on and off?

The functions on your gas appliance will vary depending on the make and model you own. In many cases, you can turn your gas fire or stove on or off at the wall, by using a remote control or by turning the thermostat up or down. A wall switch will just turn the appliance on and off while the thermostat Continue Reading


How should I maintain my new gas burning stove or gas fireplace?

You need to have a regular gas appliance check and carry out maintenance for safety reasons. This should be done on an annual basis. You can clean the glass door on your gas stove or fireplace every couple of months to prevent sticky deposits from accumulating. However, only do this with a special glass cleaner. Gas fire appliances are usually Continue Reading


How much does it cost to operate a gas appliance?

There are adjustable gas valves installed on fireplaces, stoves and inserts.  Adjust the flame height down and you will use less gas and realize less heat.  Adjust the amount up, and you’ll use more gas and get more heat from the unit. In the USA and some Canadian provinces, natural gas (NG) is measured in therms.  One therm equals 100,000 Continue Reading


What is zone heating?

This is a term that’s used when heating only a portion of your home.  When you think about it, most people spend the majority of their time only two or three rooms.  And many people like their bedrooms cooler than the rest of the house.  Zone heating warms those the area of the home that you spend the most time Continue Reading


What does the term ‘zero clearance’ mean?

A zero clearance (ZC) fireplace is a fireplace that has been designed to be built into a combustible frame wall.  There are small “stand-offs” on the exterior of a ZC fireplace that that can be in direct contact with 2x4 or 2x6 framing.  This makes for versatile and rather quick installations. Do not get this term confused with the finishing Continue Reading


What’s the difference between radiant and convective heat from my fireplace?

In a nutshell, radiant heat, heats objects.  Think of the sunshine when you think of radiant heat.  Ever been sitting in a car with the sun shining through your window?  You’re probably warmer than the passengers on the other side of the car.  That heat you’re feeling is the radiant energy from the sun. A good example of convective heat Continue Reading


What if the power is out to my house, will the fireplace still work?

Yes it will!  Your gas fireplace, stove or insert generates its own electricity to open and closed the gas valve. Today’s appliances use one of two types of ignition systems: 1) a standing pilot light, called a “millivolt system” or, 2) an intermittent pilot ignition often referred to as an IPI or electronic ignition system.  IPI systems use a battery Continue Reading


Why does my flame look blue when I turn my fireplace on?

This is not uncommon.  Combustion air levels could be a bit low and the draft will take a couple of minutes to get well established.  It normally takes a few minutes for the flames to adjust on a cold start.  LP seems to have a tendency to look a little more bluish on start-up than natural gas.  But after 5 Continue Reading


Is there a difference between a gas fireplace and a gas fireplace insert?

Yes, there definitely is a difference!  These are NOT synonymous terms!  A gas fireplace is designed to be built into a framed wall.  This is done during construction or a remodeling project.  There is an insulated shell around the firebox that provides protection against overheating any wooden framing members.  Gas fireplaces can be vented horizontally through a sidewall or vertically Continue Reading


Is there a burn-in procedure for a new fireplace, stove or insert?

On a new appliance, there are oil residues from the manufacturing process.  Your new equipment has also been painted with a high temperature paint.  It normally takes an hour or two of curing time to burn the excess oil residues off and for the paint to completely cure.  During this time, the fireplace may have a strong odor.  And, you Continue Reading


Why does the glass on my fireplace turn black?

This can be more of a problem, but can be corrected by a competent fireplace service technician.  The black is the result of soot from incomplete combustion.  One of these scenarios is likely occurring:  1) the air to fuel ratio is not adjusted properly, 2) the logs are not positioned exactly as the manufacturer specifies, or 3) the burner may Continue Reading


Why does the glass on my fireplace fog up when I turn it on?

There is a temperature difference between the air inside of the fireplace and the air in the room.  Warmer air has more moisture than cooler air.  When the fireplace is turned on, the temperature inside the fireplace begins to warm up and condensation forms on the cooler glass.  The water vapor in the warmer air is condensing on the cooler Continue Reading


Can I convert my wood burning stove into a gas stove?

Unfortunately not! It isn’t possible to convert wood stoves into gas systems and it’s even dangerous to try. So, please don’t attempt this under any circumstances.


Can I convert my wood burning fireplace into a gas fireplace?

You can indeed! Use gas logs, inserts or fit a gas stove to change your wood burning fireplace into a gas fireplace. Bear in mind that you’ll need a gas or propane supply and adequate venting to do this. One of our professional fitters will need to carry out checks to help your work out the best options and you Continue Reading


How should I maintain my new gas burning stove or gas fireplace?

You need to have a regular gas appliance check and carry out maintenance for safety reasons. This should be done on an annual basis. You can clean the glass door on your gas stove or fireplace every couple of months to prevent sticky deposits from accumulating. However, only do this with a special glass cleaner. Gas fire appliances are usually Continue Reading


What are by-products of combustion?

Whenever something is burned, there are ‘leftovers” from the process.  It really doesn’t matter what is burned, wood, natural or LP gas, fuel oil, kerosene or coal.  These leftovers, or by-products include:  water vapor, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and other particulate matter.  Indoor air quality will be affected.  It can be a dangerous and even deadly Continue Reading


Can I close my damper a little so I lose less heat up my chimney?

This is a question that comes up periodically.  And, the answer is always the same:  NO!  Never do this.  The damper to your fireplace must be completely open when there is a fire burning.  If you close the damper, even slightly, you are running the risk of allowing smoke and other dangerous contaminants from the combustion process into the house.  Continue Reading


What can I burn in my wood burning stove?

It’s called a “wood” burning stove for a reason!  The only thing to burn in your stove is: wood!  Yes, use a few wads of newspaper to get kindling going from a cold start, but never burn the following in your wood stove: pressure treated lumber particleboard plywood or chipboard wood with nails or screws dryer lint driftwood painted lumber Continue Reading


What is a connector pipe?

This is the black pipe that “connects” a wood stove to the chimney system.  It’s often called stove pipe or black pipe.  Connector pipe can be the standard single wall black pipe that many are familiar with.  Or, it can be a double wall, close clearance pipe.  Your stove requires specific clearances to combustibles.  Oftentimes, these clearances can be slightly Continue Reading


How is wood-burning equipment sized?

The literature on wood-burning fireplaces, stoves and inserts will provide lots of information.  Included with these details will be the size of the firebox.  The size of the firebox in wood-burning equipment is expressed in “cubic feet”.  The larger the number, the bigger the firebox.  And a larger firebox means longer burn times and more heat.  Generally speaking, a small Continue Reading


What’s the difference between a wood burning: fireplace, insert, stove, furnace and boiler?

The goal is identical, to keep you and your loved ones comfortable by using wood as the fuel.  However, this type of equipment differs significantly and has different types of applications. A wood burning fireplace can be built using masonry materials or a zero clearance (ZC) unit, designed in a factory and built into a frame wall in your home.  Continue Reading


How often should I clean the chimney for my fireplace, stove or insert?

That depends on the quality of the wood you’re burning.  Aiming for a moisture content of <25% will significantly reduce the amount of creosote that builds up in your chimney.  Ensuring that your stove, insert or fireplace is well maintained will help too.  The standard of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that all chimneys should be inspected and Continue Reading


Can I install a wood burning stove in my mobile home?

Yes, you can, provided certain conditions are met.  The first thing to do, is to make sure the stove has been tested and approved by HUD (Housing & Urban Development) to be installed into a mobile or manufactured home.  Other items include: 1) An outside air kit must be installed.  2) The stove most be permanently fastened to the floor.  Continue Reading


How do I protect the floor around my wood burning stove?

Adequate floor protection, or an approved hearth pad, is critical to a safe wood burning stove installation.  You must protect a combustible floor with a non-combustible material.  This floor protection must extend beyond the front, back, and both sides of the stove.  Hearths pads (floor protection) are designed for ember protection or thermal protection.  Ember protection will protect a combustible Continue Reading


Will a wood burning insert use less wood than an older, open burning fireplace?

Most wood burning inserts today operate with efficiencies in the mid 70% range. A properly sized and operated wood burning insert can heat a couple thousand square feet of living space. Older, open burning fireplaces are not rated for any efficiencies, but most dealers would agree that if you’re getting 15 to 20% of the heat into your home, you’re Continue Reading


What is a moisture meter?

It’s a small device about twice the size of a deck of playing cards.  There are two probes or pins on one end of the meter that penetrate the wood to check the moisture content.  If you’re a wood burner, you know the importance of burning dry wood.  How dry is dry?  Wood with a moisture content of 25% or Continue Reading


How frequently should I clean my chimney and wood burning appliance?

Recommendations from the National Fire Protection Agency state that cleaning should be carried out on an annual basis. At the same time, have an inspection carried out to preempt any potential problems.


How can I stop smoke filling the room when I open the door on my wood burning stove?

The best way to minimize the amount of smoke entering your room is to open the door to your fire slowly at first. Open it just a crack then wait for a moment until you open it wider.


I’m having chimney drafting problems. Why is this?

You know you have chimney drafting problems if you see smoke coming back into your home rather than going up and out of your chimney. There’s no one answer to solve this problem and there could be numerous reasons behind the issue. The first golden rule is to have a properly-installed wood burning stove or fireplace, which meets current standards. Continue Reading


Can I convert my wood burning stove into a gas stove?

Unfortunately not! It isn’t possible to convert wood stoves into gas systems and it’s even dangerous to try. So, please don’t attempt this under any circumstances.


Can I convert my wood burning fireplace into a gas fireplace?

You can indeed! Use gas logs, inserts or fit a gas stove to change your wood burning fireplace into a gas fireplace. Bear in mind that you’ll need a gas or propane supply and adequate venting to do this. One of our professional fitters will need to carry out checks to help your work out the best options and you Continue Reading


I already have creosote deposits on my glass doors. What can I do to remove these?

If you have stained glass doors from creosote deposits, allow the glass to cool down then wipe it on the inside to get rid of the loose debris. Ideally, use damp newspaper for this. If the deposits are tar-like and sticky, you should light a hot fire and burn dry, seasoned wood on it for several hours. This should effectively Continue Reading


How can I prevent the glass doors on my wood burning stove of fireplace from looking dirty and stained?

By-products from the combustion process can cause the glass doors on your wood burning fireplace or stove to have a build-up of deposits, including creosote. This tends to build up in your chimney’s flue, which is dangerous and highly flammable. However, you can get round the problem by properly maintaining your fire. Always burn dry and seasoned wood as this Continue Reading


How do I make my wood burning stove or fireplace safe for children?

It’s best way to keep children and animals away from your fire by fitting glass doors or using a sturdy screen. You can get different styles of screen and some are transparent so you can still enjoy the view of your fire while keeping kids and pets safe form the heat and flames.


How are radiant heat and convection heat different?

For convection heat, air blows over a heating element and absorbs the heat, which is then blown by convection into your room. This lifts the ambient temperature and creates warmth. Radiant heat works by heating objects and people in a room and is therefore less effective at raising ambient temperatures. However, in smaller spaces radiant heat can be pretty effective.


What regulations must I be aware of when installing my wood burning appliance?

Firstly, refer to your owner’s manual, which every wood burning fireplace, insert, or stove should come with. In the manual, you’ll find detailed instructions and installation regulations as well as diagrams or pictures to show the clearance requirements. When buying an older model, it may not have been tested or listed. Therefore, refer to the default codes list (NFPA 211 Continue Reading


When choosing a wood burning stove is a catalytic or non-catalytic stove better?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set clean air standards, which mean that wood burning stoves must now contain a re-burn system. These are special components that reduce particle pollution and they come in two different types - catalytic and non-catalytic. Catalytic wood stoves have a tiny combustor. When you shut off the damper, smoke runs through the combustor. Due Continue Reading


Are wood burning stoves clean and environmentally friendly?

Recently, the regulations against polluting wood burning stoves have tightened. The Environmental Protection Agency has set out regulations about how much pollution a wood burning appliance can emit. The reason behind this is that, as part of the combustion process, the smoke from a wood burning fire contains harmful gases and particles. Prior to the regulations being in force, typical Continue Reading


How much should I be prepared to spend on a wood burning appliance?

Buying the cheapest bargain you can find when looking for a wood burning appliance is a bit of a fallacy. Sometimes, the price you pay can reflect the performance and lifespan of your fire. In truth, there should be a balance between not paying too much or too little. The best advice is to be guided by quality rather than Continue Reading


What is the Best Kind of Wood to Burn

Your choice of wood will have an effect on how your wood burning appliance performs and how long a lifespan it will have. Also, the type of wood you choose will have an effect on the maintenance and service requirements for your fireplace, stove, or insert. Finally, the wood can influence the heat your appliance gives off and how efficient Continue Reading


What’s the capacity of my wood burning appliance for heating my home?

This really depends. The most influential factor is the size of your firebox in cubic feet. Larger fireboxes can burn more fuel, therefore heating a larger space more effectively. Other important factors are the kind of wood you burn and how well insulated your home is. This includes the quality of your doors and windows the insulation around your sidewalls Continue Reading


How do I properly vent my pellet stove?

You have a few options for venting a pellet stove. Pellet stoves require type “L” vent pipe.  Most will have a 4” vent pipe requirement.  L-vent uses an air space between a stainless steel inner pipe and a galvanized outer pipe.  Since the exhaust on pellet equipment is pressurized, all joints between pipe components must be siliconed or have a Continue Reading


How do I vent my pellet insert?

Pellet inserts must be vented vertically through the existing fireplace chimney. The existing chimney is used as a conduit for a 4” stainless steel liner.  This liner is connected to the top of the insert, installed up the chimney and terminated with a special adapter and termination cap on top. Note that many pellet inserts will be positioned a bit Continue Reading


How do I know how much space my pellet stove will heat?

It’s all about the BTU’s! The more BTU’s, the more heat you’ll enjoy.  And, this is easily controlled by how fast the pellets are burned.  The faster the burn rate, the more BTU’s are produced.  The more fuel you’re using, the more heat you’re getting.  Your pellet stove or insert will have a range of BTU output. 10,000 – 40,000 Continue Reading


Pellet stoves vs. wood burning stoves . . . . which is better?

This answer depends on several factors, such as: 1) your lifestyle, 2) quick and easy access to a wood supply, 3) the amount of time you can devote to cutting, splitting, hauling and stacking wood, 4) installation details, 5) cost, and other considerations. Let’s talk about cost first.  A pellet stove vs. a wood stove will be similar in price.  Continue Reading


What happens to my stove or insert if I lose power?

If power is interrupted, by Mother Nature or a little one unplugging the appliance, your pellet equipment will not function. When power is off, there will be no additional fuel delivered to the burn pot, so any fire that’s burning will continue until it simply burns itself out.  If there is some rise to the venting profile, the smoke from Continue Reading


How much electricity will I use for my pellet insert or stove?

That depends on your electric rate and your specific model. Most pellet stoves and inserts will use between 200 watts and 500 watts per hour.  Generally speaking, if you’re paying between 8ȼ - 10ȼ/kwh, expect to pay about 2 ½ȼ - 3ȼ/per hour to operate the electric motor, fan and circuit board.  That would translate to $20 - $25/month, if Continue Reading


How dangerous are pellet stoves?

Common sense goes a long way when it comes to heating devices. It doesn’t matter if it’s a forced air furnace, a wood burning fireplace or stove, a boiler system or for that matter the toaster in your kitchen!  Properly installed, operated and regularly maintained equipment will avoid potentially dangerous scenarios.  Do not install equipment you are not familiar with.  Continue Reading


Will a pellet stove run without electricity?

Pellet stoves and inserts need to be plugged into a 120-volt outlet.  The “brains” of the stove (the circuit board) as well as the fans on the equipment and the auger (or pellet feed mechanism) are reliant on electricity to operate.  However, there are manufacturers that have battery back-up systems available for specific models.  If you’re living in an area Continue Reading


How long will a 40 lb. bag of pellets last?

This has everything to do with the “burn rate” of your stove or insert.  One pound of wood pellets will produce approximately 8000 BTU’s of heat.  So, if you are burning pellets on the “low” setting, say 1 ½ lbs./hour (or 12,000 BTU), a bag will last about 26 hours.  If you need a lot of heat, burning five pounds Continue Reading


How much does a good quality new pellet appliance cost?

It’s only natural to want a good deal when buying your pellet appliance. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the price you pay normally reflects the quality of performance and longevity of your appliance. Therefore, it’s better to look for a quality product that you can trust in terms of its performance level than to simply choose a Continue Reading


How do I regulate the heat output from my pellet stove or insert?

There are a couple of ways to adjust the amount of heat.  The rate at which the pellets are fed into the burn pot is one.  A slower burn rate delivers fewer pellets to the burn pot, so less heat will be produced.   The faster you burn pellets, the more heat you will enjoy.  Also, the speed of the fan Continue Reading


How do I remove the ashes from my pellet stove?

Your pellet appliance comes equipped with an ash drawer or an ash tray.  Simply pull it forward, remove it and empty the ashes.  Be careful and remember that the ash is “powdery” fine and can be easily blown around the room.  It’s always a good idea to empty the ashes into an ash bucket with a tight fitting lid.  Any Continue Reading


How much maintenance will my pellet stove or insert require?

This is a great question and should be one of the first things you discuss with your dealer.  If you’re a person who does not like to get your hands dirty or procrastinates on regular maintenance items, do not buy a pellet stove!  A gas model would be your best bet.  But, if that description doesn’t fit you, then pellet Continue Reading


What’s the heating capacity for a pellet appliance?

This depends on the amount of BTUs your pellet appliance produces. The great the level of BTUs/hour, the more heat will be generated and the more space it will heat.  On full power, some pellet stoves can produce between 40,000 to 45,000 BTUs per hour. You can adjust the BTU output and turn it down to heat a smaller area. Continue Reading


How does my pellet stove light?

Most models have an automatic ignition system designed into a circuit board. Simply turn your control to the “on” or “start” position.  Keep in mind the moisture content in pellets is very low, so pellets are quite easy to ignite.  Depending on your model, an ignitor rod, a hot surface ignitor or glow plug are in direct contact with the Continue Reading


Are pellets messy or convenient to use?

If we’re going to compare pellets to cordwood on the “Messy Scale”, pellets win, hands down!  Pellets are packaged in easy to handle, 40 lb. bags, much like water softener salt.  There are no bugs, no dirt and no bark to constantly be cleaning up.  Bags easily stack on top of each other.  Both cordwood and pellets need to be Continue Reading


What benefits will I get from using pellets as a fuel source?

Pellet stoves are environmentally friendly and easy to use, which means they’re very popular today! The pellets they burn are made from recycled materials. They’re also very efficient when it comes to generating heat and this will help to keep your bills lower. Also, you can install them in areas where it wouldn’t be possible to use a gas or Continue Reading


What’s the best way to store the wood pellets?

First and foremost:  Keep ‘em dry!  And, preferably inside the garage, shed, basement or utility room if you can.  Pellets can be purchased in bulk, but most customers buy pellets in convenient 40 lb. bags.  Dealers will sell individual bags, but as a homeowner your best value is to purchase pellets by the ton.  That is fifty, 40 lb. bags Continue Reading


What kind of chimney or venting system does my pellet appliance need?

Unless you’re going to connect your pellet appliance to your existing masonry chimney or to a factory-built stainless steel chimney, most pellet appliances need a 3″ or 4″ type “L” vent pipe. Depending on the location of your appliance, these can be installed vertically or through a side wall.


How reliable are pellet stoves?

Manufacturers of pellet equipment will provide a warranty.  These warranties will vary a bit from each manufacturer, but most covers several years for specific components, or a limited lifetime.  Details will be spelled out in the owner’s manual.  Always ask about the warranty before a purchase is made.  Warranties are precisely why you should buy a pellet stove or insert Continue Reading


How do pellet stoves work?

Pellet stoves look like a gas or a wood burning stove. But they operate much differently.  There is a hopper that’s located on the back side of the stove that serves as a storage bin for the pellets.  Lift the lid on this hopper and pour in the pellets.  The size of this hopper will vary from model to model, Continue Reading


What should I look for when I shop for pellets?

Manufacturers of pellets produce a standard or premium grade of fuel. There is an accredited program that is designed to help homeowners identify consistently reliable pellets from producers.  A quality mark has been established by the Pellet Fuel Institute (PFI) Standards Program.  Pellet manufacturers that choose to participate in this program are subject to regular, unbiased third party inspecting and Continue Reading


How are pellets made?

Wood pellets are made by recycling wood waste. It’s a fantastic way to keep tons of waste out of landfills and create an efficient fuel!  According to the Pellet Fuel Institute, there are over 1,000,000 homes in the USA and Canada that use pellets to stay comfortable in the winter. Most pellets are made from wood waste, that is sawdust, Continue Reading


How efficient are pellet stove and inserts?

The literature for most pellet stoves and inserts today list efficiencies in the range of the low 70% to the low 80% range.  Because of the fine ash when burning pellets, it is very important to clean the stove on a regular basis.  This ash collects on the heat exchange tubes and other surfaces in the firebox.  This will impede Continue Reading


For our entire product selection please visit one of our showrooms and speak with a Design Consultant
or call us at 608-356-7268 or 608-204-7585!

Share This Information with Your Friends

Covid-19 Response

During the current global health crisis, Top Hat's primary concern is the health and safety of our employees, families, customers and community. In an overabundance of caution, effective immediately until further notice, Top Hat will be postponing all fieldwork and closing our showrooms. Office staff will be checking voicemails and emails regularly and returning messages as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and continued business!
Your Top Hat Family