Consumer GuidesHeating & Cooling

Install the Right Kind of Wood Stove

A wood stove essentially is a metal container for a fire. Made from cast iron or brick-lined, welded plate steel, a wood stove has an inlet for combustion air and an outlet for combustion gases, the smoke. Most modern stoves are airtight and allow the amount of combustion air that feeds the flame to be controlled. This control allows a wood stove to burn far more efficiently than a traditional open fireplace. Wood stoves built during the 1970s and early 1980s offer efficiencies of from 50 percent to 60 percent. Those built since new governmental requirements were put in place in 1988 offer 75 percent to 90 percent overall efficiency, that is, they convert up to 90 percent of their fuel to heat.

Concern about particulate emissions the dangerous gases and toxins carried by wood smoke have forced changes in design, too. Although old wood stoves gave off up to 50 grams of particulates per hour in smoke, new certified stoves give off about 5 grams.

Your stove should be placed well enough out from the wall not to be a fire hazard and set on a fire-retardant sheet to protect a wooden floor, if you have one. Stove pipes need to be assembled carefully and cleaned regularly. Chimneys must be insulated properly A spark arrestor on top of the chimney will protect your roof. You may be concerned about how to keep squirrels and birds out of a fireplace chimney and about creosote build-up.

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