How to Install Wood Stoves

Written by melinda rizzo
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How to Install Wood Stoves
An porcelain enamel wood stove. (Photographs courtesy of Melinda Rizzo)

Wood stoves provide supplemental heat to central-heating systems. They also provide spot heat for a particular room. Installing a wood stove should be undertaken by a homeowner with relevant skills, or should be left to a professional. Correct placement for optimal heating and enjoyment ensures the best use of your new wood stove. Properly maintained, wood stoves will supply satisfying heat sources for many years at a nominal cost. Flooring must include a fire pad for the wood stove to sit upon; fire pads are dictated by local building codes, and the size is determined by wood stove manufacturers. Chimneys, either already in place or those to be installed, are dictated by local building codes; the size (diameter) of the chimney is recommended by the wood stove manufacturer. Install all wood-burning appliances according to local building codes, using Underwriters Laboratory (UL)-approved materials.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Hand truck or dolly
  • Heat shields (optional)

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  1. 1

    Determine the placement of the stove before unpacking it. Make sure a suitable fire pad is in position, according to the stove manufacturer's recommendations for size and clearances to adjacent walls; treat all clearances as minimums. The clearance is the distance the stove must be from substances that are combustible (those that will burn).

    Measure for all sides of the stove, including the front and the bottom. Heat shields can be used to adjust, or reduce, space clearances. Install heat shields according to manufacturer's instructions.

  2. 2

    Move the stove into position and unpack it. If the stove needs assembly, put the stove together following the manufacturer's directions. Assembly may include: doors, grates, firebricks, heat shields and connecting chimney pipe.

    How to Install Wood Stoves
  3. 3

    Place the assembled stove into position on the prepared fire pad. Make sure the stove is aligned with the required amount of clearance (airspace) from all adjacent, combustible surfaces according to building codes and manufacturer's instructions.

  4. 4

    Attached the stove pipe from the wood stove outlet into the existing chimney, or install a new chimney, per building code requirements and manufacturer's recommendations.

  5. 5

    Schedule building inspections with local municipal authorities. Some municipalities require multiple inspections, while others may simply require a final inspection of the completed work before the stove is put to use.

  6. 6

    After receiving inspection approval and final use permits, run the stove for the first time building small fires to avoid overheating the metal. This helps the stove to "cure," or settle in.

Tips and warnings

  • Cast iron stoves, though heavy and strong, tend to be brittle. Use care when handling them as they can not stand dropping or other impact.
  • Use only dried or aged wood in the wood stove.
  • Make sure all building permits are secured prior to work, and that building inspections are scheduled before moving through the installation according to local municipal authorities.
  • Check with homeowner's insurance agents regarding policy coverage for owning and operating wood stoves. Adjust policy requirements, as recommended.
  • Improperly-installed wood stoves are a fire and smoke-damage hazard. Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
  • Do not use soft wood in wood stoves, such as pine, driftwood, cedar or other conifers (evergreen) trees.
  • Do not burn wet wood in wood stoves.

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