How to Install a Wood Burning Stove
Learn the basic materials, safety precautions, location and steps to install a wood stove in a home.
The wood burning stove is efficient. It can stay on all the time, it's affordable and it's simple. There's nothing like the feeling you get warming hands, feet and rear-end in front of a wood stove. Wood stove installation is basic, but not trivial. Installing a wood stove requires attention to planning and safety.
Before You Start
Local codes and insurance regulations governing stove installation may differ per municipality or insurance company. Special requirements are in place for mobile homes. Check them before planning or purchasing your stove. Check for the availability of wood in your area.
Location is Key
Centered in the Room
The most efficient systems are installed near the center of area to be heated, with the chimney exiting straight up through the roof. Pot Belly and Franklin stoves are good examples of this installation, with the same installation clearances as other types of wood burners. But installing a wood stove in the center of the room is not always possible because of furniture, obstacles or room design.
Interior Wall Versus Exterior Wall
Interior walls are better installation choices than exterior walls, because they provide better air circulation between rooms. Exterior wall installations allow warm air to exit through nearby doorways and windows, and even through the wall.
Chimneys can exit horizontally through an exterior wall, or run straight up through the ceiling. Running a chimney straight up allows for better heating, because the chimney pipe is part of the heating system. Running it horizontally through an exterior wall lessens it's ability to help heat the room.
Chimney Pipe Ratings
Class A, double- or triple-wall chimney pipe is required for all installations that pass through walls or ceilings. Usually stainless steel, Class A chimney pipe is insulated to protect it's surroundings from heat. Look for the UL-listed rating to ensure that it meets code requirements.
Upper Story and Attic
Upper story pass-through of Class-A pipe requires an enclosure around the pipe with at least a 2-inch clearance on all sides. It also includes a finished ceiling support box at the bottom to support the pipe, with a fire-stop radiation shield where it passes through the attic. Follow up with attic insulation shield to the point where it passes through the attic space and through the roof.
Doorways are Important
Fueling a wood stove means carrying wood in from the outside. Locating it with good access to an exterior doorway is important to keep down the mess. If possible, locate the stove where you can place a small wood storage bin or box
Choose the best location for your wood burning stove; it's permanent. Several factors can influence efficient operation and installation. Combine the factors for the most efficient operation of the wood stove.
Start From the Top
Wood stove installation starts from the top. The proper placement, and installation of the chimney is key to safety and efficiency. Code requirements typically state that chimney pipe must extend at least 24 inches from the highest point of the roof, not including the chimney cap. But adding additional length -- above the 24-inch requirement -- to the chimney pipe can serve to make your stove draw better.
Stovepipe Versus Chimney Pipe
Stovepipe is not chimney pipe. Stovepipe is the thin, black pipe that connects the stove to the wall or ceiling. Chimney pipe is shiny, metallic and insulated. Stovepipe cannot pass through a wall or ceiling. Chimney pipe passes through walls or ceilings, and continues to the terminating point on the roof.
Codes in your area may prohibit the use of different brands or parts on the same pipe. If you're starting from scratch, purchase all the sections and parts from the same manufacturer. Codes also prevent the use of adapters to join differing brands of pipe.
Do yourself a favor and purchase a pre-cast concrete hearth and wall protector. They look like bricks or tile, complement the installation and are simple to install.
Build your own hearth with bricks if desired. Use fake bricks on the wall, or the real thing.
The hearth is the non-combustible protection underneath the stove. It must extend at least 18 inches on all sides. Additionally a wall protector -- same thing as the hearth -- on the wall behind, and if applicable, walls on either side, must have a non-combustible surface if they are located within 36 inches of the stove. If you don't have the necessary clearance on all sides, or you need to reduce the clearance, a wall-protecting hearth must be installed. Properly installed wall protecting hearths can reduce the clearance to as little as 12 inches.
Steps to Installing a Wood Stove
Things You Will Need
- Hearth and wall protector
- Furring strips
- 3-inch screws
- 3 1/2-inch lag bolts
- Reciprocating saw
- Insulated chimney pipe
- Support brackets
- Stove pipe
- High temperature sealant
Order or purchase the parts needed for your particular installation. Pipes come in short sections, with different diameters. Measure the distances from the stove to the wall for the stovepipe. Measure the distance from the wall or ceiling for the chimney pipe. Order them as needed per section.
Install the hearth and wall protection as needed per your design. If you're building a hearth with bricks, it doesn't need any further insulation. If you're using a precast hearth, screw 1-inch furring strips to the wall to create an air space. Bolt the hearth to the furring strips and wall.
Cut holes in the wall or ceiling with a reciprocating saw. Install the insulated chimney pipe in the holes. Slip the support collars and thimble on the inside, and the flashing collars on the outside over the pipe. Screw them onto the wall and ceiling using trim and support brackets on the roof. Seal the joints and seams with high-temperature silicone.
Fit the remaining sections on the chimney pipe, completing it to the interior of the wall or ceiling. Add supports if needed on the roof.
Place the stove on the hearth, positioning it with the necessary clearances.
Connect the stove to the wall flange or collar using sections of stovepipe, adding elbows or other angled pieces as needed. Seal the stove pipe connections with high temperature sealant.
Determine Parts Needed
Add the Fittings
Place the Hearth
Join the Sections
Bring in the Stove
Add the Stovepipe
Specializing in hardwood furniture, trim carpentry, cabinets, home improvement and architectural millwork, Wade Shaddy has worked in homebuilding since 1972. Shaddy has also worked as a newspaper reporter and writer, and as a contributing writer for Bicycling Magazine. Shaddy began publishing in various magazines in 1992, and published a novel, “Dark Canyon,” in 2008.