Guide to Installing a Woodstove

Guide to installing a woodstove, including building code requirements, moving heavy heaters, proper chimney installation, clearances, connections and working with sheet metal.

| September/October 1988

This guide to installing a woodstove provides the information you need to safely set up a woodstove in your home. (See the woodstove diagrams in the image gallery.)

Guide to Installing a Woodstove

IN THE MIND'S EYE, THE LICK OF FLAMES from a cleanly cleaved round of pine evokes more than mere temperature. With it come images of romance, economy, family, independence, a simpler life-or at least roasting marshmallows. In many ways, burning wood is the symbol for the many things that we value in a country lifestyle. But like all of the joys that we partake in by getting involved in our sustenance, wood heat carries its duties and responsibilities.

Woodstove installation is not a trivial task. Without a collection of self-sacrificing friends and/or a stove lift, hefting a 500-plus pound chunk of metal and masonry is likely to earn you a season ticket to the chiropractor. Without the necessary sheet metalworking tools, you're more likely to end up with bandaged fingers than a custom stovepipe. Without the proper precautions, you and your family's lives are at risk from fire.

You could expect to pay at least $50 plus materials to have a professional chimney sweep or woodstove shop do your woodstove installation for you, and, considering the expertise and labor involved, that might be a bargain. Of course, you may want to do the job yourself. Perhaps you enjoy the challenge and self-satisfaction that come from doing your own installation. Maybe your local woodstove dealer fell victim to these fleeting moments of petroleum glut. Or, possibly you're just moving a stove from one room to another.

Whether you plan to observe or participate, there's a lot to know. Because no two woodstove installations are likely to be the same, no one can provide a blueprint to guide you.

The rare installation can be as simple as setting the stove down and adding a section of prefabricated stovepipe. More often, though, there will have to be thermal barriers to protect walls and floor, custom lengths of stovepipe, a factory-built chimney or maybe even a hole punched in a masonry chimney for a stovepipe connection. Beyond those topics lie the complicated matters of zero-clearance fireplaces and building or rebuilding masonry chimneys. We'll take you to the boundary of that last netherworld but no farther. Even that's a fair journey for six pages, so let's be on our way.

10/28/2013 1:54:07 PM

Great article! I'm going to ask a question even though this was posted many years ago! My local guys can't tell me where the insulated pipe stops and the single wall pipe starts. We have vaulted ceilings to 17 foot high and only have double wall through the roof and outside. I get cresote build up in the top 3 foot of single wall. Should I have double wall insulated all the way down to the stove? Would that help buildup? How do I support the pipe when the chimney pipe is in the middle of the room, perhaps 5 foot from nearest wall? Thanks.

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