Thinking About A Wood Stove?

With the rise in the price of oil and natural gas along with everyone's growing concern about the impact of burning fossil fuels, wood stoves have begun moving back into the mainstream of home heating. While not necessarily the primary source of home heat, for many of us a wood stove can provide supplemental heat for our homes, help us save money and preserve the environment. If you're considering installing a wood stove in your home, it's not just a matter of buying a stove and running a pipe out through the wall - you need to do some upfront planning before you can fire up that stove. Here's some things you need to consider when planning a wood stove installation.

Safety should be your number one consideration

  • Most cities have bylaws and regulation regarding the installation of wood stoves and these may supercede the Underwriter's Laboratory standards or national building codes. Always check with your local authorities regarding the proper procedures for installing a wood stove in your area and be sure to get the required permits and necessary approvals.
  • In some jurisdictions the local fire Marshall must approve all wood stove installations. Even if this isn't the case in your area asking the local fire department to check out your plans and final install is a good idea.

Home insurance

  • Contact your home insurance company to find out their requirements for insuring homes with wood stoves. Building permits and inspected installations along with Underwriter's Laboratory approved products are all likely requirements and in addition, some insurance companies have their own incremental requirements to provide coverage. Be sure to get a letter from your insurer clearly stating that they are aware you're installing a wood stove and they agree to insure you.

Locating the stove

  • Proper placement of the stove and chimney will have major impact on the efficiency of the heat your stove provides.
  • It's best to have the chimney running up through the interior of the house, rather than on the outside (if possible) and with as few turns. The inside location will help to spread the heat throughout the house and the air in the chimney warmed by the ambient air inside the house in combination with the long straight chimney run will provide a more efficient draft.

Clearance around the stove

  • The type of stove you are installing (pellet stove, advanced combustion wood stove, fireplace insert) will determine the amount of clearance required around your wood stove. (The space between your wood stove and the combustible surfaces around it, (walls, floors, ceilings). Different types of stoves require differing amounts of clearance. Check the manufacturer's recommendations. In general, there should be at least 12 inches of clearance on all sides of the stove with 18 inches of clearance necessary on the side from which you load the stove.

Underneath the stove

  • The floor your stove sits on needs to be level and covered with a non-combustible floor pad. This can be for example, ceramic tiles, sheet metal or even brick. The floor pad should extend at least 18 inches in front of the door and go out at least 8 inches behind and on the sides of the stove.

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to He can be contacted at