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Our Experience Installing A Wood Stove

 

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Let me start this off by saying I am not in any way a professional. We are going through the process of purchasing and installing our first wood stove so I am just sharing a few things that are fresh in my mind about putting in a wood stove because there has been so much interest lately. Double check everything I say with your local professional. I have picked many brains about this issue (that’s just my natural tendency – to check, and recheck, and see how others do it) so I feel comfortable sharing what we have done BUT different wood stoves, homeowners insurance companies and cities may have different regulations. So, double check everything I mention here.

 

When we first began the loan approval process to purchase our home, we knew without a doubt we wanted a wood stove. Living in the country, our only other source of heat would be propane, which is expensive and limited. Friends were telling me their friends and family that live in the country were unable to fill their tanks due to the propane shortage (and just recently a neighbor down the road experienced the same thing last year). That concerned me. Moving in to an old farm house, I am pretty sure the insulation in the house is pretty poor (I could be wrong, but I am preparing for the worst). I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to afford to refill the tank mid-season if necessary, or would be rationed and end up running out. A wood stove is a huge relief on my mind. We buy enough wood to get through a season and there is no reason we can’t stay warm. The wood is here, it’s not rationed or expensive (compared to propane), it will still heat the house during a power outage, and I could cook on the surface during a power outage as well. I get the impression from the locals that winters can be kind of harsh out here because it’s so rural. The main roads and even the paved bike path behind our property get paved before the road in front of our house. That’s ok too though, my husband has a 4×4 that can get him through snow. Ice is a little trickier, but snow shouldn’t be an issue!

Before purchasing our stove, we confirmed with our homeowners insurance that yes, we could have a wood stove. It would raise our rates a small amount each year ($16 per year) but nothing that would break the bank. They just wanted proof that it was installed up to code when we installed it. That wouldn’t be an issue because we were going to pull a permit and have it inspected anyway.

So we looked on craigslist and bought the biggest stove we could find – an old Fisher stove, the biggest stove the company made. It reminded me of growing up with a wood stove and we just fell in love with it. Until we brought it to our new house and learned that because it’s an unlisted stove it would have to be 3 feet from any combustible wall. Considering we were going to put it in the corner, it would sit way far out in our living room. That kind of worried me. Note: Check clearances BEFORE you buy your wood stove. It came with some 8 inch pipe, which is more expensive than 6 inch, and we needed to buy additional lengths of the chimney pipe, the pipe that goes outside the house. But, we didn’t know what kind of chimney pipe it was, and the chimney pipe has to all be the same brand because they all connect a little differently. The pipe had no name on it, so we took a section up to our local wood stove store and he THOUGHT he knew what brand it was but wasn’t certain. Either way, we still needed a ceiling support, roof brace, flashing, and a hearth pad in addition to the length of pipe. We were looking at about $1500 in additional costs, plus another $500 for installation.

My husband had been going back and forth over whether he wanted to do the job himself or pay someone who knew what they were doing. He had never installed a wood stove before. Youtube videos made it look easy enough, and all the brains we picked confirmed that it’s really not HARD per say. Just kind of worrisome when you are purposely cutting a hole in your roof! But once you do it, you realize it’s not that bad. So that would save us the installation cost. But we were still looking at another $1500 for the remainder of supplies and then we are left with the thought – do we really want a stove sitting so far out into the living room for years to come?  Because the hole would already be placed, getting a new stove and changing where the pipe came out of the roof really was not an option we were willing to consider.  Whatever we put in would have to stay!

A newer stove would be more efficient, so it would burn less wood (saving more money) and heat better. It started making more sense just to buy a new one, when we were looking at the additional cost we would need for the remaining parts we wouldn’t be spending that much more to get a new stove. Pipe and parts are cheaper to begin with, using a smaller diameter. We went with another large stove, but this one only had to be 10 inches from the corner of it, to the wall. If we put up a heat shield, that could be reduced by half! But, it would be too close to windows and we would have to cover the windows with a heat shield to make that clearance happen so we opted to keep it at its original clearances of 10 inches from each corner.

We planned on making our own heat shield if we were going to need one, by placing cement board away from the wall (minimum 1 inch space between combustible wall and heat shield, and 1-3 inches off the floor) using metal studs to separate the board from the wall, then putting tile over the cement board to make it look pretty. That would have been a lot cheaper than purchasing premade shields.  It had a certain distance it had to be above the wood stove and along the side and in front (your stoves users manual should have the same information so you know how big the heat shields have to be) We made our own hearth pad too. We used cement board (Durock) then bricks and mortar on top of that. It’s pretty but I never want to lay brick again. After my hands were all torn up my husbands friend told me I could wrap my knuckles and tips of my fingers with medical tape to prevent the scratches. Nice to know, after the fact. But hey, now you know if you plan to make your own brick hearth. I used a level to make sure each brick was level, but my husband failed to suggest a longer level to make sure each brick was the same height as the one next to it, so I have some bricks that sit a little bit higher than the one next to it. The hearth has personality now (hehe) but considering it was my sweat, blood and tears that went into it – it looks beautiful to me.  Oh, and wear gloves.  The mortar burns your hands.  Go ahead, ask me how I know.

The install took about 6 hours from start to finish. This included a trip to the store for support legs that attached to the brace for our chimney – that took probably an hour with travel time (we live in the sticks, so it takes a while to get anywhere), and finding the tools needed because my husband has not had time yet to finish organizing his garage from our recent move.

The morning of the  install my husband poked a hole in the ceiling to make sure the stove placement wouldn’t interfere with joists – we had to have something like a 2 inch clearance – then attached the stove pipe (we went with double walled), created the support that the ceiling support would attach to, got that connected, put a hole in the roof, loosened shingles above the hole to slide the flashing under them, secured it then caulked around it with heat resistant silicone. We dropped in chimney pipe (this is different than stove pipe), secured it into the ceiling support (the stove pipe and chimney pipe can be different manufacturers, but everything below and then everything above the ceiling must be the same brand due to the way they connect into one another)  then added the storm shield, additional chimney pipe length, the rain cap, the chimney brace and finally secured the legs that brace the whole thing to the roof. I was praying for my husband the whole time he was on the roof – it’s a really steep roof! But, he did it!

Once it was installed, we started a fire because the paint on the stove needed to cure (and my husband wanted to see the fruit of his labor).  It passed inspection with no problem and heats the house very nicely.

We purchased an additional smaller, used wood stove for our school room.  That will be installed soon.  Our school room is a long room (the length of our home) that is technically a three season room.  Our main stove may have trouble heating that room in the bitter cold so we thought a small boxwood stove would be perfect.  We could also use the heat from that room to heat the back rooms of the house because there are still windows from the original backside of the house that open into the school room.

 

 

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