Have a Pro Install your Wood Stove Insert

With the official start of winter only a few days away, most people have reacquainted themselves with the cold weather. For some, staying warm this winter might involve lighting a fire in a brand new wood stove. Hopefully that new wood stove was installed by a professional because improper installation poses some major safety risks.

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Homes with existing fireplaces or stoves should already have a chimney structure in place. When installing a new wood stove or wood stove insert, utilizing the existing chimney is usually much more cost effective than constructing a new chimney. However, fitting the stove and chimney together is vital to safe and efficient fires.

In some cases, the stove may be installed within the firebox of the old fireplace. The stove must be able to fit into the firebox, and the chimney must be masonry. If the chimney is not masonry, a factory built metal system designed for use with wood burning appliances can be used for a chimney and flue. If the stove does not fit in the firebox, it may be possible to retrofit the old flue to match the new appliance.

However the wood stove ends up positioned relative to the old fireplace, the most important consideration is the size of the flue. For this reason alone, the installation of a new wood stove should be left to a professional. Especially if the stove or insert fits into the old firebox, the chimney size will be far too large. An oversized chimney means the chimney maintains an overall cooler temperature. Therefore, the smoke produced by the burning wood condenses more easily in the chimney and clings to the flue. This black, tarry material is known as creosote, and its highly combustible nature can lead to explosions and chimney fires if allowed to build up too much. Removing it can take a lot of time and money, as it hardens into a slick, ceramic-like surface. To prevent unintentional fires and any flue damage because of creosote, the size of the flue opening must match the size of the new wood stove. This determination – and the safety of your family and home – is best left to the chimney experts.

As of 1984, national codes require that the pipe connecting the wood stove to the existing chimney must extend up to at least the first flue tile. Generally, this option costs the least, but it can also cause problems with cleaning and complete ventilation. On the other hand, a complete flue from the stove to the top of the chimney has no seams, which means it does not leak fumes and smoke into the house or chimney. This prevents poor air quality and stops the acid in the smoke from damaging the chimney structure. In addition, chimney specialists can sweep and inspect seamless flues more effectively than retrofitted flues. In other words, the extra cost of having a custom, full length flue liner installed translates into extra safety.

If you need an expert to install your new wood stove properly, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps for a professional consultation.