Wood burning stoves are an excellent alternative to traditional open fireplaces. If you have a traditional fireplace, you may start to see the benefits of installing a wood-burning stove in it.
To install a wood-burning stove in a fireplace, you first need to find a suitable location, plan for firewood, incorporate safe flooring, and protect the walls. You will also need to have the correct equipment, measurements, and room ventilation.
The rest of this article will give a detailed explanation of:
- What to consider before installing a wood-burning stove in an existing fireplace
- Steps on how to go about the installation
- The trouble you might experience by installing a wood-burning
Considerations Before Installing a Wood Burning Stove in a Fireplace
If you have an empty recess or you’re opening a fireplace, consider the following things during the installation of the wood-burning stove.
For your wood-burning stove to work, it requires enough air. Lack of enough air in the room will cause it to experience issues like challenges starting the fire and failure of smoke to rise through the chimney. When installing a wood-burning stove in your traditional fireplace, check your room’s air permeability. If it’s inadequate, fit a small ventilation brick inside.
Flue Diameter and Chimney Type
Your chimney type should be a class 1 for you to fit a wood-burning stove in your fireplace. An open solid flue fire is usually a class one, but if you’re replacing the existing one, ensure it isn’t pre-cast flue or a class 2 because neither is suitable for a stove. Next, consider your flue diameter. If it isn’t connected to the right flue liner or flue size, it will not only perform poorly, but it won’t be safe as well.
Many stoves of up to 20kW require a minimum flue diameter of 6″, but in some cases, a 5″ can be used if the manufacturer says it’s safe. Ensure that the flue diameter is not small in size and watch out for any cracks. They will require repairs even if you are installing a flue liner. Some chimneys are not suitable for use with a wood-burning stove. In this case, install a twin wall as your alternative.
Wood burning stoves, although they are more effective than fireplaces, can produce a lot of heat. If your fireplace is big, it doesn’t mean you can fill it with the largest wood burner. To prevent your room from overheating, use a stove calculator to work out your stove’s heat output and the best amount.
Wood Burning Hearth and Surround
Your wood burner will most likely be of different sizes and shapes. However, do not assume that it will be fit. Follow the regulations when using hearth during the wood burner’s installation. For hearths that reach 100 degrees Celsius, regulations require that it should:
- Be of at least 840 x 840 mm in area.
- On both sides of the stove, it should extend up to at least 150mm and on the front, 300mm.
- Have a thickness of 12mm.
- Be made from non-combustible materials.
If the temperature goes above 100 degrees Celsius, the minimum thickness should be 250mm. If you plan on reusing the hearth, ensure it has no cracks as they can be an issue because of the heat emitted. If you have a surround in your old fireplace where you would like to place your wood-burning stove, and it is non-combustible, you don’t have to make replacements. However, you can use a fireplace beam as an alternative.
Space Between Combustibles
If you’re installing your wood-burning stove in an existing fireplace, ensure it leaves enough space between it and combustibles like wallpaper or plasterboard. Check the installation instructions because the required distance for every stove is different.
If your fireplace is made of non-combustible materials like brick or stone, there are no legal regulations on the stove’s distancing. However, the lack of enough space will affect the stove’s performance due to inadequate heat circulation and air.
Observe Construction Regulations
When installing a wood-burning stove, you do not require planning permission if the fireplace already exists. However, you need to ensure that it complies with building regulations. You can find this information on your local municipal council website or visit their offices. If you’re building a new chimney, ensure you seek a planning permit before construction.
Before installation, consider if your home is in a smoke controlled area. If you’re planning on burning wood instead of smokeless fuels, you can check with your municipal council as you will only get permission to use an exempt appliance.
Installation of wood-burning stoves has become easier over the years since they were invented in the 1500s in Europe. At the time, they could easily pose a danger with smoke inhalation and fire hazards. However, you can follow the following steps for proper installation.
Find a Suitable Location
Before installations of a wood burner:
- Consider the location of your fireplace and furniture.
- Ensure that your fireplace is placed in a central area for it to provide warmth to the room after installation effectively.
- Arrange your furniture to face the wood burner and maintain distance for safety and purposes.
Stray sparks can easily fall on furniture and combustible materials, hence causing a fire. Also, they have a high heat output that makes it uncomfortable to sit near the wood-burning stove.
Make the Opening Ready
Before installing a wood burner, clear the opening of your fireplace and open it up to create space for the stove. With an open chimney and larger fireplace opening, it will now be possible to make measurements for your stove and insert a new hearth or lintel.
Choose an Appropriate Model Size
Wood burning stoves come in different sizes. Choose one that has a heat output with suitable measurement for the space you will be installing it. Ensure you take measurements of your existing fireplace before installation. Calculate the heating space requirements in kilowatts. You can do so by measuring the height, depth, and width of the area in meters, multiply it by 3, and divide by 14.
If your space is bigger and has high ceilings, choose a model that has a higher output. If it is smaller, choose one with a lower output.
Design Your Fireplace
Your fireplace needs to meet particular regulations like spacing when using hearth away from combustibles. First, add non-combustible materials such as tile, stone, or brick on a bare section where you will place the wood burner. If your flooring is not fire-resistant, add a small section to ensure the safety of your home when sparks from the wood fall on the floor.
Secondly, add protection to the walls of the fireplace that will be behind the stove. Choose a heat-resistant material like tiles, brick, or stone.
Protective materials protect the walls from high heat and stray sparks. However, install your wood burner at a safe distance.
Choose a Suitable Type of Wood and Plan Space for It
You will require using a lot of wood for your burner. Instead of making several trips outside, you can make some room during design and installation to store firewood. Ensure you choose the wood that has less moisture content. Dried logs are the best.
Wood with high moisture content will cause a lot of smoke that creates a tar buildup in the flue and causes the blackening of the stove glass. With space next to the wood burner, you can place firewood for it to dry up before burning it.
Plan for Ash Disposal
Expect your wood-burning stove to produce large amounts of ash. Before installation, plan how you will dispose of it or make use of it to keep your house clean and avoid filling up the stove. Ash can remain flammable and hot for days. Ensure you handle it with care and place it in a non-combustible container. You can reuse the ash as compost for your garden or throw it out as garbage.
Find a Professional Installer
Search for experts in wood-burning stove installations who will ensure that it works efficiently, complies with regulations, and keeps your home safe. You can search online for companies offering these services and check for reviews to ensure their reliability.
A professional installer may acquire necessary permits, provide a building compliance certificate, and notify local authorities that the installation took place on your behalf. You may be required to provide this certificate during the sale of your home and to validate your insurance.
Plan for Maintenance and Operations
Once the installation is approved for a wood burner in a fireplace, you need to plan for routine maintenance, such as regular chimney cleaning. Your wood burner will also be inspected yearly by a Certified Chimney Sweep (CSIA) to ensure it works safely and functions efficiently.
Installation Process Step by Step
- Purchase the right wood burner and flue. Your wood burner’s efficiency will depend on its connection to the right opening using the correct flue. Otherwise, there will be a lot of energy going to waste. Talk to your supplier.
- Have the flue or flue line checked. Ensure that a professional installer does this before installing the wood burner. Fire efficiency depends on it.
- Have the chimney swept. Ensure that the chimney is in good condition for a wood-burning stove. If it is oversized, it can result in excessive cooling of flue gases because of the large surface area. The cooling reduces the velocity of flue gas, low draft, condensation, and buildup of creosote. In this case, add a small liner or flue to avert these problems. Also, you can install a stove pipe inside the chimney of the fireplace.
- Install a stove pipe through the chimney. Install it above the fireplace damper through the masonry hole cut above the throat. To prevent the entry of gases into the room, provide a seal or seal the damper tightly. Do so with fibrous insulation such as rock wool, or use sheet steel. This kind of installation is more energy-efficient and preferable to installing the stovepipe into the firebox or through the damper.
- Fit a fire surround. The material used should be non-flammable and should fit around the wood stove flue pipe while blocking the stack opening completely. Install a steel frame to hold the register plate that keeps the flue insulation intact and prevents objects from falling into the stack and the fireplace.
- Fit the flue outlet at the top of the wood burner. Do this in a slight recess and place a fire rope of a particular length in between. Tighten the flue outlet and squash the rope into place, which you will find when you purchase a wood burner. It acts as a seal between the frame and the wood burner. Measure 100mm distance inside the flue outlet from the top of the register frame and cut the extra flue liner. Similarly, cut the flue pipe.
- Fit the registered plate into the frame. Use the flue pipe offcut as a template and draw a line around it. Cut out the circle using a coping saw, jigsaw, or pad saw. There are two parts of the plate that surround the flue pipe. Do this for each – fit straight lengths to secure gaps. For the register plate, use fire mastic to seal gaps and joints.
Reasons Why You Should Retain Your Existing Fireplace
- It maintains the originality of your fireplace and home. It’s a shame to destroy classic and original tiles.
- Ensures the style of your fireplace flows with that of other rooms.
- It enables you to keep your options open in case you ever want to go back to using your fireplace.
- If you’re going to shift houses, you can easily move the wood burner into the next home or move it to another room of your choice.
- Allows you to add a new style to the room. Many wood burners come in different sizes and colors, hence giving you a variety of options.
- Saves on costs of installation and redecorating.
Average Cost of Wood Burning Stove Installation
Wood burning stoves are an attractive feature for your home, especially during winter, when you want to get comfortable and warm with your family near the fire. However, how much will you be willing to have one installed in your existing fireplace? While many installers and contractors are hesitant to put their costs online, this article covers on average how much you will incur.
Every installation project is unique. Therefore, costs can vary. Activities like opening up an existing fireplace, adding a new hearth, and a new fuel lining have different prices. The installation cost on average comprises of the following:
|In an existing fireplace||How much will it cost||$1,361|
Installation activities cost the following on average:
|Widening the opening if necessary||$110|
|Flue line||$360 – $665|
|Removal of the old fireplace and opening it up to builder’s opening||$54|
|Lay and supply of limestone hearth||$180 – $360|
|Fit and supply of lintel at a new height||$70|
|Fit and supply of log storage stand||$240|
|Fitting the surrounding with brick, stone, and plastering it||$340|
Factors That May Affect the Cost of Wood Burning Stove Installation
Required Kind of Flue Liner
The flue liner causes some of the significant cost differences during installation. It is found inside the chimney and acts as a barrier to prevent the chimney and its walls from corrosion, combustible products, and heat. A flue liner is recommended depending on the condition of your chimney.
If you have a chimney, the metal flue liner drops down to connect with the stove. Costs increase where there is no chimney, and it needs to be created with a twin wall flue system.
Where your chimney has a small opening or is blocked, it will have to be opened up to fit a wood-burning stove. There are two kinds of flue liners: grade 904 and grade 316 liners. Grade 904 liners are more expensive because it is a grade liner. This means it is more resilient and thicker. You will have to pay roughly $157 extra.
Here is a video to help you pick a chimney liner:
Installation of above two meters height requires scaffolding. The use of specialized equipment will also pose additional installation costs. Additionally, if you are converting a gas fireplace into a wood fireplace, you will have to incur extra charges to replace the stainless steel liner and parts, the stonework repair, and the construction or replacement of a chimney.
Picking an efficient stove doesn’t mean choosing one that looks best. Choose one that is of good quality depending on elements such as heat output, flue, fuel type, and its installation process.
- Fuel options. Wood stoves require a particular kind of fuel, and the various parts requirements can result in price variation. Think ahead concerning the cost of purchasing fuel and running the heating stove in the long run. Wood burning stoves are more affordable because their manufacture is less expensive.
- Materials of the stove. Recently, there are more modern wood-burning stoves made of welded steel plates. Cast iron stoves are more expensive, but you can get other designs that are constructed from a combination of materials.
- Design of the stove. Cast iron is popular because it offers a traditional look, but the look doesn’t impact massively on the cost because most are made from similar materials. However, factors such as size, the sum of parts, and heat output will be the determinants. Designs like swivel functions stand for log storage, or double-front setups increase the cost because they require more production materials and time.
- Hearth. You will acquire this from the retailer, but keep in mind that it is an extra cost after purchasing the woodstove.
They pose an additional cost because they require payment for your installation to comply with building regulations. You will be required to get a building permit to have a wood-burning stove installed. On the other hand, professional installers may add this to the total cost of installation if they go through the trouble of visiting local authorities on your behalf.
Size of Company and Location
Prices differ depending on your location. Installers will charge differently, especially in high-end residential areas. For large companies with overheads, the cost of installation will be higher compared to freelance operators. However, avoid falling for scammers who claim to be professionals by looking at their reviews online.
Common Problems You Will Encounter With Wood-Burning Stoves and Their Solutions
Wood burning stoves are excellent appliances for your home and pose great benefits. However, they may experience problems, and when poorly installed, they can be hazardous. Always read installation instructions after purchase. Some of the issues you will encounter and their solutions are:
- Tight sealing of the home. Chimneys will be unable to operate normally in homes where they are tightly sealed, hence reducing ventilation. The exchange of air from outside and inside is restricted. The insufficient air supply will limit the fire from burning properly when smoke goes up the chimney. Consult a professional if this is a problem and in the meantime, open a window or the door to maintain a constant flow of air.
- Chimney obstruction. Debris after a storm, animals, excess creosote buildup, masonry deterioration, and nests will possibly obstruct a chimney. When this happens, combustible materials will fail to exit the chimney, making the wood-burning stove drafty. Ensure your chimney is cleaned and inspected regularly by a qualified chimney sweep to eliminate the blockage.
- Faulty door. A door that is not airtight will cause the wood stove to become drafty. Check for breakages on the gasket and seek a replacement from a supplier. If the glass is drafty and damaged, it may also require a replacement.
- Leaking or missing seal. The wood stove should be appropriately connected to the flue, and its size needs to meet the manufacturer’s requirements. Lack thereof, a flue breakage, or leakage will result in a smoky stove. Some of these mistakes occur during installation. Seek professional help to reseal the joints using heat-resistant cement. If the pipe is dented, replace that section.
- Paint smell. During installation, the fireplace is redone to fit the stove. Paint may produce an irritating odor from these walls or the new wood stove when it is lit. However, this problem is temporary and will resolve once the paint has cured thoroughly. If it persists for weeks, contact the manufacturer or retailer.
- Unseasoned wood. You must use thoroughly dried or seasoned firewood. Burning unseasoned or green firewood results in immense production of smoke, deposits in the chimney and stove, as well as messy creosote.
Will Your Home Become More Valuable When You Install a Wood Burner?
Your home will not necessarily increase in value, but it will become more desirable to potential buyers, thus more sealable. Wood burners not only create a key design in your house, but they also make it feel homey.
Can You Carry Out a DIY Installation?
Technically, you can. However, the installation is best conducted by an expert. With incorrect installation, you stand a potential risk for life-threatening dangers such as toxic fumes and fires. If you are going to DIY, ensure that you comply with building regulations and obtain a local municipal council certificate.
Can You Excavate an Old Fireplace to Install a Wood Burner?
If your fireplace is wholly lodged, or it’s a gas fire in a recess, you can open it and fit your wood burner stove inside. However, this will depend on several things. First, you must ensure the fireplace’s opening size is big enough to fit a wood burner. For you to know how big it is, you have to work by knocking through it. Knowing its size also helps you determine the size of a wood-burning stove you can install as you adhere to regulations.
Check to see if your chimney is in good working condition if your fireplace has been lodged for quite some time. Ask for a chimney sweep to have it inspected and cleaned to ensure it doesn’t have any cracks. Also, install a chimney liner if there is none to ensure the stove is safe and efficient.
Can You Do an Installation Without a Chimney?
Whether modern or traditional, many homes lack a chimney in their fireplaces and assume they can compromise for electric or gas instead of a wood burner. However, if you desire a wood burning stove installation in your fireplace, there is an advanced way to ensure you don’t miss out by using a twin wall flue system.
It is a flue pipe insulated and constructed as a chimney substitute. It runs outside the house to allow exhaust and smoke to escape like a traditional chimney. However, it needs installation by a professional installer to meet the requirements.
Installing a wood-burning stove in your fireplace is a good investment that offers comfort and makes it more desirable. Consider your room’s ventilation, chimney type, and flue diameter, observe construction regulations and heat output. Ensure you follow the installation steps if you DIY and get a compliance certificate.
Costs of installation vary due to the various activities involved, the company size, and location. Regular maintenance and inspection by a chimney sweep are crucial to eliminating problems that may pose a safety hazard, such as chimney obstructions and seal leakages.
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- Burning Inspirations: Can You Install a Wood-Burning Stove Without a Chimney?
- Salamander Stoves: Using Your Existing Fireplace?
- DIY Doctor: Guide to Fitting a Wood Burner Into a Fireplace
- University of Idaho: Installation of Wood Stoves in Fireplaces
- Chimney Solutions: Wood Stove problems and solutions
- Stove Experience: Wood Burning Stoves Problems and Solutions
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