Installation of a Wood-burning Insert

Now that you’ve decided to install a wood-burning insert and know where the appliance will be located, there are more things to consider when choosing which appliance to purchase.

Most importantly, your professional installer should analyze the space that will be heated first. Factors involved are the size of the home, the layout of the rooms, the size of the room the insert will be placed in, how well the home is insulated, how high the ceilings are, and what the expectations are from the homeowner.

The insert should be sized properly in order to provide comfortable heating. The installer should tell the homeowner what they can expect as far as performance goes. It is not possible to go by manufacturer recommendations alone since the layout of the house is the most critical factor involved in sizing the appliance. For instance, if the manual states that the stove will heat X square feet, this would be very different in a closed space verses an open concept living area.

The size of the stove should be at or larger than what is anticipated to be needed. With a larger stove, less wood can always be used but with a smaller appliance the firebox capacity will limit how much fuel can be placed in it at once. The firebox and brick facial wall surround may need to be modified or raised in order to accommodate the size insert desired, so the installer should be able to do this type of work.

The key is not to overheat or under heat the living space. This is something that a professional will be able to determine based on a visit to the home.

A Level II internal camera inspection will be required prior to wood-burning insert installation by code. If repairs to the chimney are needed this will need to be completed prior to the installation of the insert.

All inserts require a properly sized (usually 6”) stainless steel flue liner which is attached to the top of the stove and runs the length of the smoke chamber and flue. A top plate is installed along with a chimney cover to keep rain and animals out. This is not an option. The liner is required for proper draft and performance of the stove.  

Many chimney professionals sell and install wood-burning inserts and flue liners so be sure to inquire about this before his/her visit to your home. Chimney sweeps are often the best installers of these types of appliances since they know the systems so well.

Tips:

-          Reverse ceiling fans in winter to direct heated air downward.

-          Review your expectations with your chimney professional before making an insert purchase.

-          Purchase the stove from a reputable hearth dealer or chimney sweep.

-          Check local building codes for permit requirements.

-          Read the operation manual thoroughly and learn how to use the insert properly for optimal performance.

-          Plan to have the chimney pipe swept out at least twice during the burning season to remove flammable creosote and improve performance of the stove. 

Smoke Signals: Have a question about your chimney?