Over time rope seals, even on the very best stoves, will become compressed sufficiently to allow some combustion air into the stove, reducing your ability to control the flame and also loosing you significant fuel efficiency. In severe cases the gap around the door whether it's the main door(s) or ash pan door, can become so great that the stove effectively quickly incinerates any fuel that you put into it without providing you with the benefit of much more real heat. The consequent lack of control could also potentially lead to over-firing and the over-heating of some of the stove components, needlessly burning out fire grates and baffle plates and even permanently damaging the fabric of the stove if left for a long period. Therefore it is important that the air-tightness of any door seal is regularly checked.
On some stove models it may be possible to adjust the door handle mechanism to increase the strength of the 'clamp' between the fire rope, door and frame, but eventually this will become fully adjusted and you'll have to refit a new rope seal anyway and then re-adjust the handle mechanism back again, so it's often easier to simply replace the rope seal.
How to check your stove door rope seal
The easiest way to do this is to wait until the stove is cold and tear some writing paper or magazine into strips of about 50mm (2") wide. Position the first strip above the top hinge, between the door and the stove bodywork, then close the door and try to remove the paper strip by pulling it out. If it is difficult to remove, but comes out eventually, or simply tears then this part of the rope seal is working well and you should continue to work your way around the door aperture every 75 – 100mm (3 to 4"). Where the paper can be loosely moved around or easily slides out then it is obvious that the door rope seal needs to be replaced. If the stove has a double door then all of the seals should be replaced at the same time.
Replacing a stove door rope seal
Ensure that you have bought the correct diameter rope seal by checking in your stove handbook or directly with the stove manufacturer. If it's too small then you're back to square one and if it's too large you could put excessive pressure on the door hinges or door handle locking mechanism causing them to either warp or break. You will also need the appropriate heat resistant rope seal glue and heat resistant joining tape.
If your stove features a door that has been designed to be easily lifted on and off without undoing any screws or bolts then remove the door and place it face down on a suitable work surface, being careful to protect the stove door from scratching and the glass from being broken. Do not remove any permanently fixed stove doors as, from our experience, the hinges and bolts on these can be problematic when it comes to returning the door to its original and correct position, as well as it making the job much more difficult than it needs to be. This is also a good time to check the state
of the stove glass and its gasket and to replace the gasket if necessary.
Remove the existing rope seal by pulling it out and use a wire brush to ensure that none of the old adhesive remains and that you have a clear and even rope channel. Wear a protective face mask to prevent inhalation of rope fibres and dust. Check that the end of your rope, the one you want to start with, has a good clean cut and right-angled end which isn't frayed so that it makes a good neat joint. Re-cut this if necessary. Measure your rope by feeding it around the channel – try not to stretch or compress it, and then cut the required length, allowing an extra 2 or 3mm to take up any slack in the joint. When you are satisfied you have the correct length rope seal use heat resistant tape to tape around both ends of the rope to prevent them from fraying.
Apply the rope seal adhesive as directed and refit the new rope seal with the joint in the bottom middle of the channel. Gently press the rope in place all the way around the door and ensure that there is no air gap at the joint. Allow the adhesive to dry as directed by the manufacturer and when it is safe to do so , replace the door if you have removed it, and open and close it to check the improved seal.
N.B. Some stoves (eg Alpha II / Precision II and Graphite 8 for example) feature a deliberate gap at the top of the rope seal as part of their DEFRA approval and operational efficiency and any new rope seal should therefore
recreate this gap.
Please see below the various types of stove rope seal kits and accessories that Stove Spare Parts sell.
Geoff Royle is our Head of Marketing. He is heavily involved in the Stove Industry and represents WBS and The Stove Yard in the Stove Industry Alliance. Geoff also has recently joined the Hetas Technical Committee and is looking forward to discussing in detail all future stove, flue and installation legislation.