A Guide to Wood-Burning Stove Installation
From the soft crackle of burning logs to the gentle warmth that radiates throughout the room, there's little wonder why many of us choose wood-burning stove installation for our homes. But how is a wood-burning stove installed? Can you do it yourself? What do you need to do to prepare? If you're curious about what goes into getting a wood-burning stove set up, you're in the right place.
Choosing the ideal spot for your stove
Firstly, you will need to decide where your wood-burning stove installation will be. It's not just about where it looks good but also about ensuring safety.
- Distance from flammable materials: This is crucial. Most stoves have a recommended clearance distance from walls and other combustibles. This ensures that the heat produced doesn't pose a fire risk.
- Flooring considerations: You must place the stove on a non-combustible hearth. Materials like stone or ceramic tiles are popular choices.
What parts do you need for a wood-burning stove installation?
So, you're eager to get started with your wood-burning stove installation? Before you do, gathering all the necessary tools and materials is essential to ensure a smooth and hassle-free process. Here's a handy list to guide you through what you'll need.
1. The stove itself
While it might sound obvious, your stove's size, design, and heat output are worth considering. The size should suit the room, ensuring adequate warmth without overheating. Still trying to decide? Check out our range of wood-burning stoves here.
Read more: Wood-Burning Stove Buying Guide
2. Flue pipe
This will connect your stove to the chimney or external vent. Ensure the diameter matches the stove's outlet and is of the appropriate length.
3. Chimney cap
The chimney cap prevents rainwater, birds, and debris from entering the chimney. Plus, it helps to avoid downdraughts that could push smoke back into the home. They are typically made from a durable material like stainless steel.
Read more: What Chimney Cowls Are Best for Stoves?
4. Stove hearth
This non-combustible platform will sit beneath the stove, protecting your floor from embers and the stove's heat. Common materials include stone, granite, tile, or heat-resistant glass.
Learn more: Wood Burning Stove Hearth Buying Guide
5. Chimney liner
Suppose you are connecting your stove to an existing chimney. In that case, a chimney liner will ensure the efficient exit of smoke and prevent leaks into the house. Choose a liner of suitable material, such as 316 or 904-grade stainless steel, and ensure it's the correct diameter.
6. Register plate
If you're using an existing chimney, this plate will seal off the base of the chimney, ensuring all smoke and fumes exit through the liner, and preventing heat loss up the chimney.
7. Fireproof mortar or sealant
This will seal gaps between the stove pipe and the wall or chimney. It'll ensure that no smoke or fumes leak into your room.
8. Carbon monoxide detector
Although it's not a direct installation tool, having a working carbon monoxide detector in any room with a wood-burning stove is crucial. This device will sound an alarm to alert you to any dangerous build-ups of this odourless gas.
You might also like: What Parts and Accessories Do I Need to Fit a Stove?
Ventilation and flue systems
Your stove will need a way to release the smoke and fumes from burning wood. This is where the flue system comes in.
What is a flue system?
A flue system acts as a conduit, safely guiding the smoke and gases produced by your wood-burning stove outside your home. Without an adequate flue, you could risk the build-up of harmful gases like carbon monoxide within your living space.
The importance of chimney draught
For the stove to work efficiently, there must be a good 'draw' or 'draught'. This upward pull of air ensures smoke and fumes rise and exit through the flue. A well-designed flue system will do the following:
- Improve the efficiency of the stove by guaranteeing a steady air supply.
- Reduce the risk of smoke spilling into the room.
- Minimise the build-up of creosote, a tar-like substance that can become a fire hazard.
Different flue configurations
Depending on your home's design and your stove's model, you'll be presented with different flue configurations.
- Top exit: This is where the flue pipe comes out of the top of the stove and can either go straight up the chimney or be routed to exit through a wall.
- Rear exit: In this configuration, the flue pipe exits from the back of the stove. This often suits homes where the stove is positioned away from the chimney and requires a more horizontal flue path. It's worth keeping in mind that flues can only travel horizontally for a maximum of 150mm.
Why is a flue liner essential?
Installing a flue liner is critical to connect your stove to an existing chimney. It offers:
- Improved efficiency: A flue liner can provide a smoother, more uniform surface, ultimately improving the draw and efficiency of the stove.
- Protection: Over time, old chimneys can deteriorate. A flue liner offers an added layer of protection, preventing harmful gases from leaking into the home.
Learn more: A Complete Guide to Flue Liners For Your Stove
Fresh air intake
Modern homes are often well-insulated, which is excellent for energy efficiency but can be challenging for stoves that need fresh air. Some stoves, especially newer models, have a direct air intake. This feature pulls in air from the outside, ensuring the stove operates efficiently without compromising your home's insulation.
In the UK, building regulations dictate the standards for flue installations. These guidelines ensure the safe and effective operation of wood-burning stoves. When installing or altering a flue system, adherence to these regulations is not just advisable – it's mandatory.
Preparing for a wood-burning stove installation
Before the exciting day of installing your wood-burning stove arrives, some groundwork is essential to ensure a seamless and safe fitting process. Proper preparation eases the installation and ensures that your stove operates at peak efficiency. Here's a guide to laying the groundwork for your new home addition.
If your home has an existing chimney:
- Clean it out: Your chimney must be cleaned for a new stove and flue liner to be installed. Get a professional chimney sweep to remove any soot, creosote, or obstructions.
- Check its condition: Your chimney sweep will look for cracks, loose bricks, and any other signs of deterioration. Repairs may be needed before lining the chimney.
You might also like: Guide to Stove Chimneys
The area beneath the stove, as noted, should be non-combustible. You must prepare the foundation if you're not using a pre-made hearth. Remove combustible materials and ensure a solid, fireproof base, such as concrete or tiled flooring.
Good ventilation is vital for the efficient operation of your stove. Check:
- Existing vents will need addressing if they are blocked or too small.
- New vents: Consider where a new vent can be introduced for airtight homes to ensure an ample fresh air supply.
Creating an opening for your wood-burning stove installation
Creating an opening might be the most daunting step for many, especially those retrofitting a wood-burning stove into a space without an existing fireplace.
If you've decided to do it yourself, it's essential to approach this phase with precision and safety in mind. Here's a guide to help you carve out the perfect spot for your new stove.
1. Determine the size
Firstly, measure the size of your stove and refer to the manufacturer's guidelines regarding the recommended space around the stove for safety. This will give you the dimensions of the opening you need.
2. Mark the area
Using chalk or masking tape, mark the exact dimensions on the wall where you intend to create the opening. Ensure you factor in both the height and width, considering not just the stove but the flue and other associated components.
3. Safety first
Before you start any demolition:
- Turn off utilities: This is crucial if the wall you're working on has electrical wiring or plumbing.
- Wear protective gear: Safety goggles, a dust mask, and sturdy gloves are non-negotiable.
4. Start with a pilot hole
Drill a small pilot hole in one of the top corners of your marked-out area. This will be your starting point and will guide you as you begin to make the opening.
5. Gradual demolition
Using a masonry chisel, hammer, or a small sledgehammer, start chipping away at the wall inside your marked area. Be careful and deliberate, ensuring you don't exceed your marked boundaries.
6. Check for studs and wires
If you come across wooden studs, you might need to saw through them. Always be cautious of hidden electrical wires or plumbing. If you're unsure, consult with an electrician or plumber before proceeding.
7. Smoothen the edges
Once you have knocked through and have your opening, use a coarse sandpaper or a masonry file to smooth out any rough edges. This ensures a neat finish and reduces the risk of injuries during subsequent installation steps. Alternatively, you can have a plasterer skim the area.
8. Reinforce if needed
Depending on the size of the opening and the wall's original structure, you might need to add some supporting beams or lintels above the space to ensure structural integrity. If you're unsure, consulting with a builder or structural engineer is always a good idea.
9. Clean up
After all that hard work, you'll have considerable debris and dust. Ensure you vacuum and clean the area thoroughly before proceeding with the installation. This makes the subsequent stages smoother and ensures you're working in a safe environment.
Wood-burning stove installation without an existing chimney
Not every home comes with a pre-existing chimney, but that shouldn't get in the way of your plans. The good news? Modern solutions allow for wood-burning stove installation in spaces without traditional chimneys.
Twin-wall flue systems
A twin-wall flue system is the go-to solution for wood-burning stove installation in a home without a chimney. Essentially, this system acts as an artificial chimney, providing a safe exit for the smoke and fumes. Twin wall flues typically comprise two concentric metal tubes with insulation in between. They can run either through the home or externally along the outside.
Deciding the flue route
You can choose either:
- Internal system: Here, the flue travels inside the home, usually through a room or loft, and exits through the roof. It's slightly more efficient when it comes to heat retention but does involve more internal work.
- External system: With this system, the flue runs outside the building. It's generally easier to install, and there is less disruption to the home's interior.
Abiding by regulations
Regardless of the route, specific UK building regulations dictate how twin-wall flue systems should be installed. For example, the flue must extend at least 4.5mm from the top of the stove to ensure an efficient draw. Plus, the top of the flue must be at least 600mm from the roof surface and at least 2.3m away from the nearest weather surface. In some cases, the flue height will require increasing until it meets these requirements.
The installation process
While the exact steps can vary based on specific stove models and home layouts, here's a general overview:
- Position the stove: Begin by setting the stove in its designated spot, ensuring it's on a non-combustible hearth.
- Attach the flue: Connect the flue pipe to the stove's top or rear, depending on the design.
- Route the flue: For internal systems, an opening will be created in the ceiling and floor above, ensuring that each section of the flue is securely connected. A hole is made in the wall for external systems to route the flue outside. The flue is then run upwards along the building's exterior.
- Seal openings: Any holes or gaps to accommodate the flue, especially those inside the home, should be adequately sealed. This will ensure that there are no draughts or potential leak points.
- Install brackets: It's crucial to fix the flue to the building using brackets to ensure stability.
- Cap the flue: The top end of the flue, emerging above the roofline, is capped with a rain and bird guard to prevent ingress.
- Clearances: A twin wall flue needs a constant air gap; 70mm for an internal install and 50mm for an external install. In most cases, when it runs through a loft, a loft cage is better to prevent any boxes or combustible materials from coming into contact with it.
- Maintenance access: Make sure there is a way to access the flue for cleaning and maintenance. Some designs incorporate a soot door for this purpose.
Creating a false chimney breast for your stove
A false chimney breast can enhance the aesthetic appeal of your wood-burning stove installation, giving it a traditional fireplace setting even if your room lacks an original chimney structure. It creates a focal point and can be used to cleverly hide the flue system. Here’s how to make one:
Planning and design
Start by deciding the size and shape of your false chimney breast. Consider:
- The size of the stove
- The clearance needed around the stove for safety.
- The route and size of the flue system.
Sketch a basic design, considering both the frontal appearance and a side profile to show the depth.
It’s essential to choose non-combustible materials for the construction. Some popular options include:
- Fire-rated plasterboard (Although this is more prone to cracking).
- Fire-resistant boards like cement boards.
Building the framework
The framework acts as the skeleton of your false chimney breast. Typically, this is constructed using metal or wooden studs:
- Positioning: Decide where to build the chimney breast based on where you want your stove to be placed.
- Construct the base: Begin by creating a solid base using the studs. Ensure it is level and secure.
- Build the vertical supports: Attach vertical studs to the bottom, ensuring they are plumb. The distance between these studs will depend on the width of your chimney design and the flue diameter.
- Top section: Connect the vertical supports with horizontal studs, forming the top part of your chimney breast.
Adding the boards
Once the frame is in place:
- Cut your chosen boards to fit the framework.
- Fix them securely to the studs using appropriate screws or nails. Ensure the seams between panels are tight to give a smooth finish.
- Don’t forget to create a hole or access point where the flue will run through the chimney breast.
Plastering and finishing
To achieve a smooth and polished look:
- Apply a layer of plaster over the boards. This will hide any seams or joints and give a cohesive appearance.
- Once dry, sand the plastered surface for an even finish.
- Finally, paint or decorate the surface. Fire-resistant paints are recommended.
Incorporating the stove and flue
Once the false chimney breast is in place:
- Position the stove in the opening.
- The flue should then be routed through the previously made access point in the chimney breast, ensuring it’s securely attached to the stove and running seamlessly through the structure. You will need a twin-wall flue system for a false chimney breast installation.
Adding finishing touches
Consider installing a mantelpiece or hearth in front to enhance the traditional fireplace look. Make sure all additional elements are also made of non-combustible materials.
Finding a professional installer
HETAS-registered professionals have often installed countless stoves and come equipped with a wealth of experience and knowledge. They are well-versed in the common pitfalls and challenges and can foresee issues that might escape an untrained eye. Choosing a HETAS-registered stove installer ensures your stove is installed safely and efficiently. Here's what you'll get:
1. Familiarity with building regulations
In England and Wales, wood-burning stove installation is governed by building regulations. HETAS-registered professionals are familiar with these standards. Plus, they are also up-to-date with any changes or revisions. This adherence ensures that your installation is compliant, avoiding potential legal complications.
2. Access to the right tools
While you might possess some essential tools as a homeowner, professionals come with specialist equipment tailored for stove installations. This doesn't just speed up the process – it'll also ensure that your installation is secure and long-lasting.
3. Insurance and guarantees
Reputable professionals guarantee their work, offering you peace of mind. In the unlikely event of post-installation issues, this backup ensures that problems are addressed promptly. Plus, professionals usually have insurance, which means that if anything goes wrong during the installation, you won't be left dealing with the damages.
4. Post-installation guidance
Once your stove has been installed, there's often a learning curve in maintenance and optimal usage. Professionals can offer valuable advice on how to get the best out of your stove, from fuel recommendations to cleaning tips.
5. Time efficiency
Time is a precious commodity. A HETAS-registered professional, with their expertise and equipment, can often have the job completed in a fraction of the time.
Learn more: Who Should Install My Gas or Wood Burning Stove?