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Wood Stoves - Need to Know

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WOOD STOVE INFORMATION

Wood stove installation in front of a fireplace.

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Lets talk about wood stoves.
Dublin City Chimney Sweeps has included many of your questions about wood stoves. Hope you find your answer, but if not, you can always give us a call. 860-464-8409

My idea to talk to ya

Existing Chimney?
What are the dimensions of the existing clay chimney liner? Is the chimney tall enough to draft correctly? One-story ranch homes have short chimneys. Many manufactures specs call for a certain minimum vertical length to draft correctly (usually around 16 feet)

Shared Flue?
If it is being shared with another appliance (furnace, fireplace) it can not be used. One flue or chimney connection per unit.

What is the condition of the clay chimney and liner?
When was the last time it was cleaned and inspected? Are the clay flues relatively straight and aligned? Does the chimney have any missing, damaged flue tiles, or mortar missing between flue tiles? Also look for missing or deteriorating bricks and for excessive creosote build up. All creosote should be cleaned and removed to prevent a fire hazard.

Have you factored in its location?
Chimneys located on outside walls with 3 sides exposed to the weather draft poorer than central located ones. Will I need a full liner? Do I have room for it? Should it be insulated?

Liners - Which are best?
Some liners are tested with insulation meaning insulation must be used to meet code or UL requirements. Flue size constraints may rule out some insulated liners and different insulation style may need to be used. You might be lucky and have a separate good condition 8 by 8 clay flue, where a connector pipe is all that is needed, if the clay chimney liner is in good condition.

Using your existing fireplace to vent the stove?
NFPA 211 2003 requires ALL 6 inch flue collared stoves to have a full liner if the fireplace flue is in an exposed outside wall chimney. The only direct connection for a 6 inch flue collar stove, is when it is being connected to an interior chimney. However a 12/12 clay flue is too large to draft a stove with a 6 inch collar. A full liner is required and there is plenty of room for blanket insulation. The problems start sizing chimneys with a 8X12 clay flue. It's quite a chore insulating it in that confined space, especially if, the flues are not aligned properly or you encounter an offset. NFPA Code also requires the damper area to be blocked off with plates. Check with the manufactures UL listing for information about blocking the flue. Some manufactures require the plate at the top others require it at the bottom. Must know what the UL listing states.

What to do with the damper obstacle? The damper plate should be removed. The remaining opening is usually less than 6 inches. There are a couple of options here - The damper frame can be broken out so that the 6 inch stainless steel liner will fit through. Another option is to ovalize the stainless steel flue. Even though it remains the same interior area, ovalizing creates friction (A great place for creosote build up). Add the fiction associated with corrugate liners and the friction is compounded worse. A couple of final points about venting. Do not assume because your fireplace drafted ok the new wood stove will also. Your fireplace puts large amounts of heat and air up the chimney, which help it draft. If the fireplace is marginal, you should definitely line the chimney and always insulate. Consider extending the chimney a few feet using masonry or other safe method.

Connecting Stove Pipes -connecting the stove to the flue.
They have to be no less than 24 gage steel and pitch upward to the chimney inlet. A better product to use is welded seam 22 gage connector pipe. Again horizontal runs should be as short as possible with fewest directional changes. Some Stove manufacturers list the maximum length of run and maximum turns or elbows Each connector pipe must fully pushed in so that no corrugation is seen and have 1.5 overlap, and be fastened by sheet metal screws or rivets - 3 equally spaced per joint. Clearance to combustibles of single wall pipe is 18 inches in all directions. Double wall pipe or triple wall pipes reduce the safe clearance distances, but once used the rest of the run must be the same- you can not go back to single wall.

Stove final placement.
Can your stove satisfy clearance to combustibles? Its time for research. Most new stove manufacturers have web sites where you and download and read the installation manual. Stove A, with a heat shield may fit your location, where stove B, does not have that option and will not comply. Most manuals have diagrams indicating the minimum requires distances to sides top ect. and required hearth pads or extensions. Be careful with the clearances to the loading doors. In USA 16 inch min. is usually required, but if the stove is listed and testes for 18 inches then it is 18 inches. Dublin City prefers the 18" rule for safety as do most inspectors and fire marshals.

While you have your manual, check for venting requirements. There is often a way to build a reduced clearance enclosure (called an alcove installation). Do not assume the surface is non-combustible so therefore it is ok. Heat can transfer through tile or bricks. Such protection must factor thermal conductivity, or the ability to reduce heat transfer to the combustible underneath. Same goes for the Hearth extensions, they have to be non-combustible and thermal resistant. UL approved rugs do not satisfy thermal resistance for use as hearth extensions.

At this point you may know what model stove should work or not. A word about heating area and BTU output claims. They are often overstated and tested in laboratory conditions. Quite different from many real world conditions. Check with your installer or other owners of the stove for their experiences. Smaller is better. Remember your stove is in a room. If it is rated for a 2000 sf. home, remember that it may be in a 600 sf. room. Most people want to sit in the room that the stove is in. If it's too big for the room it could be over 90 degrees plus in the room.

Can you install a stove?
Warranty and insurance issues aside, are you equipped to handle 450 lbs? I takes two people to handle the liner installation plus dealing with heights over 30 feet. For many people, such an installation is beyond their capability and it is best to have the professionals deal with it. Do your research and give Dublin City Chimney Sweeps a call as your installer. I am sure you will be comfortable with us. We stand behind the products and installations. All solution will be handled in a timely professional manner.

Permits
Yes permits are required. Dublin City perfers that you obtain the permit from your local building department. The town inspector can be your best route to resolve most of your concerns. You spent all this money, it makes sense to get a professional opinion that all is safe and that it meets code.

Ownership
There is a learning curve with any new stove or fireplace. Learn how to get the desired results of your new appliance. The best learning tool is a stove thermometer. Your chimney and stove should be cleaned and assessed before every heating season. You also should monitor chimney condition during the heating season. We always recommend that you clean and inspect the chimney yearly for your wood stove and your families safety.
Dublin City Chimney Sweeps 860-464-8409

A word about common sense and safety.
Make sure your smoke detectors are working. Carbon Monoxide sensors are cheap enough; there is no excuse for not having them. Keep small children away from the stove. Have a working fire extinguisher available. Do Not Burn Trash or pressure treated/glued wood products.

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Woodstoves, you should burn nothing but well seasoned cord wood. Any wood species can be burned (some are considered less desirable only because they are difficult to split or have sticky sap in their bark).

Never burn anything that is excessively dry, such as lumber, certain kiln dried products, or gray wood (dead trees or firewood that has been sitting out to dry for too long, usually several years - feels bone dry, is lighter than typical wood, and has a gray color). Excessively dry wood can cause an over-firing condition for your stove, resulting in permanent damage or in the worst case, a house fire. For a description of the damage that can be caused from burning overly dry wood see this discussion thread.

Never burn painted or treated wood, or wood products containing glue. Never burn magazines, gift wrap, or colored paper (including the comics section of a newspaper). They all produce particles that can clog a wood stoves air passages and can also produce noxious, corrosive or even carcinogenic gases. This of course includes cereal boxes!

Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics and the colored ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned.

Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.
Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.

Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.
Only bring into your home the amount of wood needed for a day to reduce the chance of allergy causing mold spores circulating indoors.

Take care

Hope this information was what you were looking for. Remember that when you first start up your stove in the fall you need to reverse the flue. Get the air moving up. A down draft will smoke the room. Start off with a good hot flame to get the flue started in the up direction. Once the flue is heated the smoke will go up the chimney.

Dublin City Chimney Sweeps
860-464-8409