Posts tagged with "How To"

How Do You Know If You’ve Got A Good Wood Stove Installation?

Most people assume that if the heat is coming off of a wood stove and the smoke is going up the chimney, everything is fine. It may be, but very often it isn’t. There are two common problems, and a thousand little ones. Let’s only deal with the common problems. The biggest problem of them all is the clearances to combustibles. There are codes, standards and listings that specify how close a hot surface (either the stove or the pipe) can be to a combustible surface. And on top of the codes, standards and listings, there are the manufacturer’s instructions. Let me sort this out together.

Standards, Codes, Listings and Manufacturer’s Instructions

wood burning stove in Great Falls VAA standard is developed in a test lab. It’s not a rule in itself, but the standards do matter. When a chimney sweep quotes from NFPA211 (the standard covering this area) you should pay attention. But the standard itself is not law.

A code is law. And the codes are made from – you guessed it! – standards. The code doesn’t necessarily match exactly what’s in NFPA211 every time, but it’s highly likely to be very almost exactly the same. This is especially true today as most jurisdictions now use the International Residential Code, which standardized several different codes fairly recently (past few years.)

And then there’s the listing. At UL or a similar lab, they determine that Product XYZ performs in a way that keeps it in the safe guidelines of the standards. And manufacturer’s installation instructions are always included in their listings. So in the end you have to install a woodstove or stovepipe according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

So Get to the Point! (OK! OK!)

You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions of course, but there are generalities we can specify because we know how products have been listed. The graphic here tells you what clearances you need to maintain for an unlisted stove and for single wall stovepipe. There acceptable ways to reduce those clearances as well. I refer you to the NFPA 211 or invite you to call us here at High’s if you need specific information about this. There are products listed for closer clearances than these however. Double Wall Stovepipe is listed for a 6” clearance to combustibles for example. And see what the installation instructions on your stove say. Some stoves are listed for as close as 12” to the wall.

Most people don’t realize Double Wall Stovepipe is even an option. It’s also called DVL and improves the performance of any woodstove. It definitely costs more than ordinary black stovepipe, but it doesn’t break the bank either. DVL is a very nice product and most people would be happier having it if they only knew it was an option. So the way you know if your clearances are OK or not is to read the instructions and break out a measuring tape. It’s that easy.

Wood Stove installation in Silver Springs MDProper Sizing of Connectors

Surprisingly, you’ll see the wrong sized connector (stovepipe) on stoves, either too big or too small. The manufacturer’s instructions will always say to use the same size pipe as the stove collar (the flue gas outlet on the top or back of the stove- where the smoke comes out) so this is easy to figure out. If you increase to a larger pipe for some reason, you will give up stove performance, that is the stove won’t draft as well. If you decrease your stovepipe, for several reasons I won’t cover here, you are likely to have draft problems as well. In any event, the stove was engineered to have a certain connector size, and changing the connector size for some reason changes how the stove performs and can even make it unsafe when otherwise installed according to proper clearance! Don’t change the connector size!

Other Considerations

  • Single walled stovepipe should be secured by three screws at every joint. This is an easy one to check and easy to fix if it needs it.
  • Any woodstove, but especially (and absolutely!) fireplace insert woodstoves should have a properly sized stainless steel liner when installed in a masonry chimney. In fact, that’s in most manufacturers’ installation instructions these days, and the codes are increasingly calling for liners on older wood stoves as well. The way to find out if you have one (if you are unsure) is to look down the chimney. The liner should extend out of the top of the tile.
  • Read the instructions for information about the area in front of the stove. In general you want 16” of protection in front of the stove door, but again, you go by what the manufacturer says.

Tips On How To Hire A Chimney Sweep

Annual chimney maintenance is crucial to the overall safety of your family and the efficiency and operation of your fireplace or wood stove. And the very best person to handle your annual chimney maintenance is a certified chimney sweep.

Hiring a Chimney Sweep Is Easy… With These Tips

Chimney sweep & chimney maintenance in Poolesville MDSince this professional offers an incredibly valuable service that will protect your family from fires and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, hiring the right company is important.

Choose on service: Prices should be fairly constant across the industry and you need to base your selection on the level of service offered.

Certifications matter: Always be sure that you are hiring a certified sweep. When dealing with a large company as opposed to an individual, it pays to be sure that the person performing the actual work is certified.

Experience counts: Find out how long they have been in business and more specifically, how many years of experience the individual sweep has. Get local, recent references.

Check the BBB: Look up the company in the Better Business Bureau to be sure that there are no outstanding or unresolved claims with the company.

Liability insurance: Ask about liability insurance and be sure that the firm is covered should an accident or damage occur while they are performing the maintenance. Also be sure that any equipment they are using is up to date and will offer you the best overall clean for your hearth.

Once you have found a reputable and reliable chimney sweep, keep their phone number handy. It’s important to have the same company (and ideally the same sweep) back each year for chimney maintenance. That way you can have a more accurate gauge of the condition your chimney and fireplace is in.

Keep your family safe by hiring the right chimney sweep to perform regular chimney maintenance at your home. Their service is specialized and highly valued. The experienced staff at High’s Chimney can help you with your chimney maintenance needs.

Chimney Maintenance and Installation Tips

Chimneys are an important part of your home’s architecture. If you’re building a new home or renovating an existing house to install a wood burning fireplace this element needs some serious planning and design. That’s because the installation and maintenance of your chimney will make a big difference in the operation of your wood burning fireplace or wood stove.

Match The Chimney Size To The Hearth Appliance

Chimney sweep in Potomac MD

In simple terms, your chimney flue should be the same size as the flue on your wood stove or fireplace insert. In the case of chimneys, bigger is not better – it only creates an imbalance of airflow. Flue gas will flow up and out faster in a small chimney, producing a healthier, cleaner system.

Keep It Tall

Your chimney should be an absolute minimum of 15 feet tall (from the floor to the exhaust point). Although this isn’t a problem in most homes, make sure your cottage or mobile home system meets this minimum requirement. Taller chimneys actually produce a better system that will allow for easier lighting of the fire and better exhaust. If your chimney is below this
height it could potentially endanger the safety of your family and neighborhood.

Regular Maintenance Is Vital

Keeping your chimney clean is important not only for its operation but for your safety. Chimney fires are common and highly dangerous, mainly caused by creosote build-up. Having a certified technician inspect and clean your chimney at least once per year is essential. The minimal cost will allow you to enjoy cleaner fires that are easier to light and maintain. You can also rest assured that your chimney system is holding up well and stay on top of any necessary chimney repairs.

The services of a knowledgeable chimney technician are valuable. For design, installation and chimney maintenance, get a pro on your side and enjoy your hearth as you were meant to.

How Do You Stop Smoke From Crossing Over From One Fireplace Chimney To Another?

Chimney Repair in Germantown MDIf you have two fireplaces with flues running up the same chimney structure, (like the picture) you are often a candidate for the problem of smoke crossover. Smoke crossover is when one chimney is breathing out smoke from the fire, and the other chimney is breathing in outside air to equalize the pressure in the home. The inhaling chimney flue is also sucking back in smoke from the other nearby chimney.

Many people assume closing the metal damper on the unused fireplace will stop this smoke crossover, but that is not the case. Dampers are not tight enough to stop this air draw. The smoky fireplace needs to be air sealed to stop the smoke. That is why a chimney balloon is needed in the unused fireplace to stop the air draw inward through the second flue.

Chimney flue liner repair in Potomac MDYou would measure your fireplace flue for a chimney balloon and then install that chimney balloon low and tight in the fireplace that is drawing smoke. Air sealing the smoky fireplace with the balloon forces the house to find another location (i.e. windows and doors and other envelope penetrations) to draw outside air in at where there is no smoke. This keeps the fire burning in the one fireplace and keeps the smoke outside where it belongs.