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Living In A Village House - Hungary (Central Europe)

Chimney Replacement, Chimney Insulation And House Heating Systems

In this section I will explain the basics of the chimney systems and heating systems normally found in a Hungarian village house, which will hopefully give you a better idea of what to do with an old chimney breast for example.

The information below needs to be considered before buying a village house in Hungary, especially if you are wanting to convert it into or back into a farmhouse or open it up as a summer rental. I will start by explaining the three main chimney types:

Chimney #1 - MADE OF BRICK

The common type of chimney found in an old village house will more than likely be a brick chimney, sometimes integrated into a wall, that looks like an old UK styled chimney breast chimney.

Brick built chimneys are suitable for ceramic stoves and the old style wood burners or old wood burning boilers.

Chimney #2 - MADE FROM TILES

The second type of chimney found in an old village house will more than likely be an insulated chimney made with either precast concrete and a ceramic linner (known as a Cserépkályha ImagesCserépkályha) or with a double wall stainless steel insulation. If you cannot see the chimney part, it will be because it is hidden by the tiles structure which has a hole in the wall behind it for the fumes, etc to go.

Cserépkályha Fires

Different forms of the Cserépkályha (gas/wood) chimney

Insulated chimneys are more suitable for new types of wood stove (glass fronted air wash type - Kandalló) and new type of gas/wood burning boilers. Also anything that can be used with brick chimneys. This means you could have a Cserépkályha using a brick chimney for example.

Chimney #3 - GAS FLUES

The third type of chimney found in an old village house will more than likely be a Gas Flue PartsGas Flue) chimney, which basically means it can only be used for gas appliances. With these chimneys the flues (chimney parts) are (or can be) made of plastic because of flue temperatures being so low - An indication of the efficiency of modern condenser boilers.

Although people do use the brick chimneys for a Kandalló (Chimney type #2), this is generally not a good idea. The brick chimney can sometimes be upgraded to a lined and insulated chimney but this is not often done in Hungary.

To use a gas appliance with either of the other types of chimney, you wiill need to line your chimney first; which is not difficult and usually inexpensive.

Fuel Types - GAS OR WOOD

The type of fuel you use will either be a choice between Wood or Gas. LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) is available but expensive. Coal is a non-starter (the brown lignite coal available in Hungary stinks and is also expensive). Electricity is prohibitively expensive unless your house is up to passive house standard or better. LPG versus Wood? Wood is cheaper to use, but it lacks convenience (i.e. has to be cut, ordered, delivered, etc). In general a wood system can be (or will be) more expensive to install.

If mains gas (also known as Reticulated Gas) is available then that should be your number one choice. Wood bought as ready cut/split works out at about the same price as mains gas and then you have all the work and mess of wood stoves / boilers. Wood can be cheaper if bought in logs and you cut and split, but you need to be two years ahead with your supply. The wood solution is a life style choice!

If you are installing a Gas Boiler then this will be a condensing type that will need an outflow connection to a waste water pipe for the flue condensate water. It is not a large amount of water, but provision has to made. This has to be thought about when deciding the location of the boiler.

Brick Chimneys - WEAR & TEAR

Over time (i.e. decades) the fumes/chemicals/etc given out by a fire can destroy the actual chimney brickwork (something you should inspect being buying a village house in Hungary). Council inspectors can visit your property to inspect your chimney whereby they can order you to line/insulate your chimney walls, which can be a stainless steel liner or a concrete slurry poured around a former which is subsequently removed.

Neither will provide insulation although insulation can be added with the SS (Stainless Steal) liner afterwards. In the UK a slurry with some insulating properties can be used, but this may not be available in Hungary? Typically the damage that requires lining will take decades, but can happen quickly if there are chimney fires.

Workmen - QUALITY OF WORKMENSHIP & PARTS

Chimneys are designed and made to approved standards in Hungary, so in themselves they all work. Of course individual workmanship can contrive to screw this up! Even though all gas installations MUST be done by a qualified workman with strict regulations to follow as flue gas from gas appliances are largely undetectable by smell and deadly (which is why CO alarms are used).

What you will need in terms of parts and appliances will depend upon your particular installation. A new chimney, Lining an existing chimney or one through the wall balanced flue? And within that, what will be needed to accomplish the installation. You will need a gas fitter to do the work and will have to be guided by what they say. Of course you can (and should) get several quotes before you decide.

If you Google Gas Chimney PartsGáz Kémény (Gas Chimney) you will find websites with an assortment of chimney types.

Gas chimneys are not expensive and they plug together like Lego, so they are quick to assemble. Of course this does not stop tradesmen from ripping you off as a foreigner, but that is where several quotes comes in handy and when you get a quote you can ask how long the work will take and apply an HUF Per Hour to see if it is reasonable. If they will not give an HUF Per Hour rate and quote then that tells its own tale.

Chimneys - AVOID A TARRED CHIMNEY

If you find you have a tarred chimney (lined with Tar) try and get the Tar removed and therefore replaced with something more suitable. The Tarring up of a chimney is normally caused by too low a flue temperature caused by too low a fire/stove temperature. Tarred up chimneys can be dangerous. Eventually they can block up - The tar is usually very difficult to remove and is prone to catch fire which can cause a very serious (and destructive) chimney fire which can be difficult to put out.

The usual causes of too low a fire temperature is either running the stove closed down for too long (i.e. overnight) or over cooling the stove by running central heating (CH) without proper controls to keep the stove temperature up; or of course a combination of both.

A small wood burning stove will produce less smoke because it will burn hotter and for that reason it will not tar up the chimney. It is also less damaging to the environment as the pollution level per kg of wood will be less than a stove burning at a lower temperature.

Wood burning stoves running CH should have controls to stop the heating unless the stove water temperature is up to a certain level. At the most basic level this is a thermostat set to around 70 degrees to prevent the CH running unless that temperature is present. A better solution is to have a recirculating pump and valve that maintains the stove temperature at 70 degrees input temperature; and only allows flow to the CH when there is surplus to maintaining that stove temperature.

With combined stoves, either room heaters or cookers with back boilers, there is usually a conflict between supplying the CH and keeping the stove running efficently at a high enough temperture; as well as keeping the room in which the stove sits at a bearable temperature. And this conflict, along with the desire to keep the fire in all night, usually results in the stoves being run at too low a temperature increasing tarring and pollution and decreasing efficiency.

Wood burning stoves/boiler run most efficiently when run at full throttle. When they are run partially shut down, efficiency drops and pollution increases. Dedicated modern CH wood burning boilers do not supply the CH direct but rather heat a buffer tank of water that the CH then draws heat as needed. In this way the heat production is separated from the demand, therefore giving maximum efficiency and minimum pollution. An example wood burning boiler would heat a 2000 Litre tank which would then supply the CH and hot water.


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