At least twice a week customers come into our store to look at wood stoves and when asked if they need it installed tell us that they are going to install it themselves. It is not that installing a wood stove is a professionals only job. It can certainly be done by an accomplished DIY handyman. There are pitfalls though to be aware of. First of all, before you even purchase your wood stove or new wood burning fireplace check with your insurance company. Most insurance companies will continue insurance with an increase in premium when a wood stove has been installed. If your insurance company is not one who will continue your insurance coverage you will want to know that before you install the stove, not after.
Playing with fire
First and foremost, remember you are installing a wood stove and that will bring a potential danger to your home. The time to notice that an installation is not quote perfect is not when your chimney or your home has caught fire. If you are at all concerned or not 100% confident in your installation skills, don’t do it. If you think that you are pretty much good to go but might need some verbal assistance during your installation for the store that you purchased your chimney from. Don’t do it. Again, you are installing a wood stove in your home that burns fire, that needs specialty knowledge and that carries an extremely high risk to you and your family if not installed correctly.
Installing a wood stove – the bits and pieces
As you assemble the bits and pieces required to complete the installation, make sure you not only speak to a hearth professional but also review the installation manual for you stove. Clearances from combustible materials are all specified in the manual and any deviation from those clearances can cause damage to your home. Regardless of what brand of chimney you purchase you will find that it can make up a significant portion of your investment in a wood stove package. Because of this it is tempting to take a few shortcuts, to try to eliminate elbows, to fabricate your own ceiling supports and so on. Manufacturers design the chimney to work with its accessories as a system. It is critical to the stability and safety of your chimney that every part specified as required by the manufacturer for installation is used.
Don’t forget floor protection. Its not as easy as laying some non combustible tiles under your wood stove. Not only does the hearth pad that your stove sits on have to be a minimum specific size. It must also be constructed to dissipate the heat so only a very small part of it is absorbed by your floor. One of the hottest areas around your stove is that area directly below it so even with a correctly installed heat shield, the hearth pad is a highly critical component.
A WETT inspection, which stands for Wood Energy Technology Transfer, includes a thorough inspection of all wood burning appliances such as stoves and open fireplaces, by a WETT certified inspector. Most hearth dealers have a WETT certified installer on staff who can certify your installation once they have completed it. Those that do not will usually arrange for a WETT certification at their expense.
If you have completed the installation of the wood stove in your home yourself you will need to obtain a WETT certification on your installation. A quick search on Google will provide you with numerous names of people in your area who can complete the certification. You can expect the cost of the WETT certification to be anywhere between $150.00 and $200.00 plus travel charges if you are out of town.
For safety reasons. Arrange for and obtain WETT certification on your stove BEFORE you light your first fire. And remember to forward this certification to your insurance company and obtain proof of coverage prior to lighting your first fire as well.
Installing a wood stove by yourself is possible and is not out of reach for the accomplished DIY handyman. Most importantly, follow ALL instructions in the stove manual as well as chimney manual. Obtain a WETT certification so you know you can burn safely and from that point foward you can sit back and enjoy the warmth and ambiance of your new stove