Wood Stove –Cost and Installation
Is a wood stove right for you? It does have some great benefits, such as warming your house during the winter and it will still be working when your electricity fails. But then again, there are costs to get the unit set up, be it labor or out-of-pocket cost. I'll go into some of of the benefits and the costs that you may incur with a wood burning stove, as well as, what you need to consider before making this expense purchase.
Weighing the Cost of a Wood Stove
Before purchasing a wood stove, you should do a cost analysis of it's benefits and or drawbacks. Here are some immediate points to consider:
1.) Do you have access to wood? Let's say you do. That's great. However those big trees will not cut themselves.
You will need a chain saw, a log splitter and something in which to haul the wood from the woods to the house. And finally, a strong back (As i and my husband can attest, it is not easy work) .
2) If you don't have a wooded lot in your back yard you can enlist the service of a tree cutting service. Many times they will sell you wood and dump it in your yard for you to split. It does lessen your work but you will have to pay for the wood,
3) Sometimes small tree services will just want to get rid of the wood that they have cut for their client. And yes, it is free. Why? Because they are eliminating the landfill fee by dumping the wood in your yard. One note of caution. The wood will come in different sizes and shapes with no preference of it being hard or soft wood.
4) Cutting wood is labor intensive. So are you willing and able to do the work?
If I haven't scared you off, let's see what you need to consider when putting in a wood stove.
The EPA Certified Wood Burning Stove
The first notion is to question whether a wood burning stove meets EPA standards. Yes, if the unit was made from 1988 and onward, the manufacturer must comply with the EPA standards.
According to the EPA Particulate Emissions guidelines, a certified stove must limit particulate emissions of 7.5 grams per hour for a non-catalytic stove and 4.1 grams per hour for a catalytic stove. Therefore, when you go shopping for a unit, you can usually identify this EPA certification by a temporary paper label attached to the front and a metal label affixed to the backside of the wood stove.
Why look for EPA certified labe? For consumers, it offers cleaner and more efficient stoves with lower amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and other organic compounds going into the air. (These pollutants have been known to cause cardiovascular illness and environmental pollution).
Is Your Wood Stove Efficient and Safe
This is a two edged sword. Can you have both, efficiency and safety? Of course. In fact, efficiency and safety should work hand-in-hand when you are installing your unit.
As you will soon discover, your wood stove is only as efficient and safe as its installation. Thus, it is important that you install your unit in your home correctly. Let us look at some of those elements.
The venting system of your wood stove includes your stovepipe, which leads outside your home, and the chimney, which should rise above the house.
Chimney- the chimney is one of the most important parts of the installation of your unit. If you use the wrong material or try to cut corners, it can result in a fire.
Some assume that you can use stovepipe that goes through a window or a roof. That assumption is wrong and dangerous. With the possible high temperatures that can and do result when burning wood, it can cause a house fire. Here are some elements to consider when building your chimney.
1. As mentioned above, no stovepipe should go through the walls, ceilings, floor or windows.
2. Only use a UL approved chimney
3. The fewer bends the better the draft suction
4. The chimney should be at least 2 feet above anything that is within 10 feet or 3 feet above the peak.
5. Use a cap to prevent birds from entering your wood stove. (I should say, it will keep out most, but not all birds)
6. The chimney should be a Double or Triple Insulated Chimney (which most contractors call HT or High Temperature).
Stovepipe is black in color and is used from the top of the wood stove until it transitions through the ceiling or wall where it will connect to your chimney pipe. There are two different types of piping that can be used.
- Single-wall stove pipe is used when you have at least 18" from combustibles. However, it does radiate more heat than double wall black stovepipe and it is cheaper.
- Close-clearance stove pipe is a double walled with a stainless-steel inner wall and a black painted outer wall. This pipe can to be within 6" from combustibles and it does not radiate as much heat as the single wall. It is cooler to the touch.
Floor Pad for your Wood Stove
The floor pad is usually made of brick, concrete or ceramic tile In addition, the floor pad must extend under the entire stove, continuing for 12” past the sides and 18” in front of any loading doors. Its purpose is to help to protect the surrounding area from any stray sparks or embers.
Finally, it is important that you follow both your city code and get input from your insurance company when placing your wood stove in your home. It can save you time and money. Moreover, if you are unsure how to set up your wood stove, it is wise to get the help of a professional.
Are Your Walls Combustible?
Are your walls combustible? Let’s first define a combustible wall. A combustible wall is one in which any part of the wall is capable of burning. I am not only talking about the outer structure of the wall, but also, the underlying structure. For example, you may find tile, brick, stone, or metal covering the wall, which is not combustible. However, you also need to know what is under the wall covering as well.
If you find that, the underlying structure contains wood, drywall or insulation, or other combustible materials you may want to investigate the following possible options:
- Heat shields-heat shields can be attached to the back, sides, and bottom of your stove.
2. Using double or triple wall flue pipe or insulated flue pipe.
Note: Use a meter thermometer to measure the temperatures stove top. In fact, we have one on the stove top and on the higher side of the stove pipe. This will help you to determine the burn temperature, as well as, help you to conserve wood and avoid excess creosote.