When installing an indoor wood-burning stove, you may wonder if the stovepipe needs to go straight up. After all, isn’t it a chimney? With so many variables in designing and building a house, there are lots of things that can be done one way in one house and another way in another house. The placement of the chimney for an indoor wood-burning stove is one of those variables. A lot of the information about installing a chimney for a wood-burning stove comes from historic housing codes written when houses were built with masonry fireplaces that had chimneys; not stoves that fit into an existing basement wall. Let’s take a look at how to install a pipe for your new wood stove, keeping safety as our primary concern at every step.
Does A Wood Stove Pipe Have To Go Straight Up?
As long as the pipe is vented correctly and the stovepipe is sized correctly, there is no ‘best’ way to install a wood stovepipe. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, you should be fine. That said, some installations are more efficient than others. Generally speaking, it’s best to have your pipe go straight up through the highest part of your house (usually the attic), and then back down through the rest of your house. This way, smoke is able to travel through the entire house without having to go through any angled fittings.
Why Does The Pipe Have To Go Straight Up?
1. The only way to install a chimney in an attic is straight up
If you look at the construction of your house, you’ll see that the upper part of the walls and ceilings is not actually supported by anything. There are no beams to hold it up. This section is basically self-supporting. If you try to put up a post there, you will most likely be putting the upper part of your house in compression. And compression is something that your wall studs are not intended for. When you put a chimney in the attic, you have to support it with a column or a post. If you go with a post, you’ll have to put it directly into the ground below. This will bring the weight of the chimney and the roof right down on your foundation. And it’s not like you’ll be able to use a short post, because then you’d have to bend the pipe.
2. It’s the only way to retain structural integrity
Installing a post in your attic will bring a load of chimneys and roofs right down on your foundation. This is one thing if you’re renovating an old house, but if you are building a new one, you avoid putting unnecessary stress on your house and the foundation. Why install a chimney in the attic at all? Most likely because it’s the least expensive and easiest way to get your installation done. If you go straight up, there will be no post in your attic, no pressure on your house, and no risk of causing damage to your foundation. You will also save a lot of money and time since you won’t have to pour a concrete post and get it properly engineered.
3. It maintains the structural integrity of your house
Installing a post in your attic will definitely reduce the structural integrity of your house. This section of your home is not intended to support any weight, but a post will bring all the load of the chimney and the roof down on it. If you want to spare your house from unnecessary stress, you’ll have to install the pipe straight up.
4. It will be easier and less expensive than other options
Posts are usually concrete or masonry, and that means plenty of hard work and expense. The post will have to be poured, and a concrete footing will have to be poured and reinforced. Then, you will have to engineer it and place the post perfectly. This is tough and dangerous work, and it’s the type of thing that might cause your contractor to charge you twice as much as he would otherwise. Straight up, on the other hand, will be much simpler and cheaper. You will have to reinforce the roof to support the chimney, but that’s about it.
5. Installing posts is extremely hard and dangerous
Installing a post in your attic is a messy, dirty job that can’t be done without making a mess. You will have to dig a hole in your yard and pour concrete. You will have to have a man-lift on wheels to get the concrete up to the attic, and you will have to be very careful not to pour the concrete on the house and damage it. The job is long and dangerous. You will have to get a permit, and you will have to hire a contractor to do it.
Is It Safe For A Stove Pipe To Go Just Anywhere?
- Stovepipes are responsible for two very important functions: drawing in the fresh air and removing combustion gases. If a pipe is not properly installed, you could experience a number of problems.
- The most obvious problem is carbon monoxide buildup inside your house. When a stovepipe is not properly installed, it can draw air from the ground or from the floor near the stove. If the CO level in the house is high, it will be drawn back into the stove and into your house.
- If the CO level is high enough, it can kill you and your family. Some of the common signs of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. CO is tasteless and odorless, so you might not know it’s in the air.
Why Does The Pipe Have To Be Vented?
- As we mentioned above, a stovepipe must be vented in order to safely draw in the fresh air. The venting material will vary by local code but is usually either galvanized steel or black iron.
- You may have seen copper roofing or flashing used for roof flashing and roof vents, but it is not allowed for stovepipe venting. There are several reasons that venting is very important:
- A vented pipe will prevent back-drafting. Backdrafting happens when air is drawn into the pipe as if it were being pulled through a straw. If the air is drawn into the pipe at an angle, it will mix with gases that are being pulled up the pipe. If those gases are carbon monoxide, your house could be poisoned.
- A vented pipe will prevent a fire. Wood stoves are hot and will generate a lot of heat. A vented pipe will draw that heat out of the pipe.
- A vented pipe will ensure that the stove is drawing air from outside of the house.
- A vented pipe will help ensure that the chimney draws properly and efficiently.
How Much Bend Is Too Much Bend In A Stovepipe?
- We mentioned above that there should be some bend in a pipe for safety, but how much bend is too much bend? As a general rule, you want to try to keep your line fairly straight.
- A straight line of pipe is easier to draw the gases through and easier to vent. In terms of how much bend is too much bend, the short answer is that it depends on how large the diameter of the pipe is.
- The larger the diameter, the more severe the bend can be. As a general rule, you should not be bending a pipe that is smaller than two inches.
- If you are bending a two-inch pipe, it should be done on a gradual curve with a radius of no less than 10 inches.
Where Does The Pipe Go From The Chimney?
- This will vary depending on your circumstances. There are two basic ways that you can run your stovepipe: inside the wall or outside the wall.
- If you choose to run your pipe inside of the wall, you can make that decision based on the location of the chimney. If the chimney is in an inconvenient location, you can run your pipe inside the wall to a convenient place.
- You can then run the stovepipe out from that convenient location. If you choose to run your pipe outside of the wall, you will have to decide how far from the chimney you want to place the stovepipe.
- You should try to put it about six inches away from the chimney so that the gases can be properly drawn through the line.
There are a lot of factors that go into installing a stovepipe for an indoor wood-burning stove. When installing your stovepipe, you will need to consider where the stove will be located, where the chimney will be located, and how the two will be connected. You should also be aware of other items in your house that may get in the way of your new stovepipe. You want to make sure that your new stovepipe is long enough to get from the chimney to the stove while avoiding obstacles along the way. With these tips in hand, you can be confident that you are properly installing a stovepipe for your wood-burning stove.