Wood Stove Installation for Beginners

In all transparency we had a lot of help with our wood stove installation and it was a good thing because we had no clue what we were doing. My goal is to walk you through what we did (with a lot of help) so you can do it with a little less difficulty and embarrassment. You can do this and I am going to be on your team cheering you on!

Step One: Make Some Calls

There are a few things to do before buying your stove. I may or may not have done these after we bought the stove (oops) and crossed my fingers things would work out okay. They did work out but it’s not what I recommend. When you first start looking at purchasing a wood stove call two places: your home insurance company and your local officials. Your insurance company will likely give you a form to fill out and submit that makes your premiums go up but hopefully not by too much.  They may say you won’t be covered by them if you install a stove, however, so please call before purchasing your stove. Your officials will be able to tell you what building codes there are in your area for installing a wood burning stove so you can make sure you are up to code. These are both very important things to know before you actually start to install your stove.

Step Two: Obtain Materials

After you have called folks it’s time to get rolling on buying the stove and everything you need to put it together. We researched wood stoves in our area and bought a used wood stove with some piping and a floor piece. Of course we thought the piping we had purchased was adequate until someone who had installed several stoves before told us it wasn’t and what to get instead. My husband made more than one trip to Home Depot and our helpers made several trips into town as well. Lesson learned, be prepared and know what you need before you get in the middle of the project.

So what do you need? Here are the supplies we used:

  • wood burning stove
  • damper piece that connects to the stove
  • telescoping piece of pipe
  • a chimney support box
  • insulated chimney pipe
  • flashing for your roof pitch
  • a storm collar
  • a chimney cap
  • screws
  • high temperature caulk and caulk gun (powered makes it easier)
  • tar
  • some power tools to cut a hole in your ceiling and chimney
  • screwdriver to secure your chimney in place
  • a level to make sure your pipes are placed correctly
  • a tape measure or laser for measuring
  • a ladder to get on your roof
  • pad or platform for your stove to sit on made of some form of heat resistant material
  • Depending on how far away from the wall you are putting your stove you may need non-flammable wall protectors with one inch spacers behind them.
  • If you have kids you may also need to consider a child gate around your stove in your supplies.

Sound like enough yet? It’s a lot to remember. I know. But I would have liked to have had this list before we went shopping so I am hoping that I help someone else by providing it.

Step Three: Read the Manual

After purchasing your stove the next thing to do is read the manual that comes with your stove. If you buy your wood stove used you can look up the manual online using the numbers listed on the nameplate of your stove. You will usually find a brand and a model number. Type those into google and the gods of google will spit you out a nice little instruction manual to help you out (hopefully). Read the instructions carefully paying particular attention to clearance dimensions and necessary backing and floor protection. Different wood stoves will give you different clearances (the amount of inches away from a flammable surface your stove has to be). Don’t just think you will put our stove in a certain spot because it looks nice. We measured our clearances several times and moved the stove a few times before we actually got it where we wanted and needed it for safety reasons.

Step Four: Get Some Help

Next you need some manpower. We had three men and a teenage boy working on our wood stove installation and it all  went pretty fast. The most time consuming part was actually hanging the metal backboard because of all the cutting, bending, and trying to find studs that were involved. You can still do it on your own but if you have at least one person to help you it will significantly decrease your stress level. So grab your spouse or best friend and have one person hold the pipe while the other screws it in.

Step Five: Prepare and Cut a Hole in Your Ceiling

There are a few things you need to do before you just start cutting. Put your platform where it needs to be and set the wood stove in its place. Then measure directly above your stove so you can cut your hole properly. Yes you can scoot your stove a little bit but you don’t want to be too off base or your clearances will be wrong. Consider marking in several places around the hole including the middle and four points surrounding it. This way you will be most likely to cut your hole in the right place. You may also want to hold up your support box to it, since that is what will be going in the hole, and make sure it looks the right size. At this point you may also want to use a stud finder to make sure your ceiling joists won’t interfere with your hole. If they do you may need to scoot your wood stove over a few inches so you have a clear pathway. Take out your power tools and cut that square. Try not to close your eyes while you do it.

Step Five: Cut Your Roof and Insert Support Box

Now that your ceiling is cut open cut/rip out the insulation you see directly above your hole until you can see the roof. Stick something like a screw through the roof so you know where to cut and send someone up top. I will be honest with you I was taking care of kids at this point so the cutting of the roof happened without me but I figure they centered it and cut the hole to the same size as the chimney pipe. (That’s what happens when you’re a mom, even one with a homesteading blog). After this is done screw in the support box.

Step Six: Fit the Chimney Pipe and Install Flashing

Place your triple walled pipe from your support box as high as your chimney goes. Ours had to be two feet above the roof line which seems pretty standard. If it isn’t high enough you may need to add another piece of pipe. Once your pipe is in, fit your flashing piece around the chimney pipe and secure it with a bunch of gunk (tar or high temp caulk). If you have a shingled roof you will want to put the edge of the flashing under your shingles so the water runs off of it rather than directly underneath it. With metal roofs you have to be a bit more tricky about water tightness and there are a few extra steps but it’s a similar process no matter your roof type. Bend the storm flashing around the chimney piece just above the original flashing piece and secure in place.

Step Seven: Attach chimney cap

Fit the chimney cap into the chimney pipes and attach it so the strong winds won’t blow it away. My husband originally bought a square cap and wanted to fit it onto the round pipe. Please don’t do that even if it looks cheaper. It won’t work and you will be out the price of a square cap and a circular one.

Step Eight: Fit in the Telescoping Piece

Take your two pieces out of the box and fit them together to make one pipe that expands. Fit it on the damper pipe of your wood stove and telescope it up to meet your box. Once it is as tight as it goes secure it with a few screws. You don’t want too many screws at this point for ease of access to clean your chimney and so you don’t create unwanted airflow around screw holes.

Step Nine: Cut Spacers and attach Backing to the Wall

You can find pre-cut spacers for this but we just used one inch long pieces of copper pipe. They worked well and are nice and strong. You will need to make sure you cut enough spacers if you are doing it this way so you don’t have to stop part way through. Screw through the backboard into your spacers making sure to drill into studs or using support pieces when necessary. Be patient. This process takes a while and lots of measuring to get just right.

Step Ten: Build a Fire and Admire Your Work!

That was a lot of work for all involved so sit back, make yourself a cup of herbal tea and enjoy your end product. You will need some time to rest after such a long day (or days if you spread out the work). Build a fire and warm yourself around your new wood stove while enjoying the feeling of being more self-sustaining and living off the land.

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