DIY Stove Installation Guide. DIY Installation of a wood stove is pretty basic given you follow manufacturer’s recommendations for clearances, use the properly rated flue pipe and your flue exits the structure with the proper clearances from combustibles.
I am not going to attempt to provide legal advice whether or not installing a wood stove is legal in your specific space and area. Legality depends on your space and location. From the research we’ve done for our space (Airstream travel trailer) and location there is not any regulations against a small wood stove installation.
If you have a Tiny House and you’re trying to get it inspected and approved by local codes you will want to install your stove according to local building codes you’ll likely need a certified stove (UL & EPA). This may also be the case if you’re trying to get your space insured as they will most likely do an inspection.
Alternative dwellings are a vast gray area when it comes to codes and regulations. Before proceeding with a wood stove installation do some research for your space and location to ensure you abide by local codes and regulations.
The floor around your stove many need a non-combustible surface depending on the clearances of your stove. Some stoves just need ember protection which would be a basic non-combustible layer (metal, glass, tile or stone) between the stove and floor. Others need a layer of insulation to buffer the heat. Most materials used for a hearth conduct heat and if your stove needs some R-value then you’ll want to add a ceramic / mineral board behind the non-combustible layer. Check and see what you stove requires.
You specific stove will have required clearances from combustibles. This is how far your stove needs to be from things that might catch fire. Your specific stove should have a similar chart as below:
There will be separate clearances for parallel and corner installations. Follow the stove manufacturer’s recommended clearances.
One way to narrow these clearances in tight installation situations is to use a type of heat shield. Like the hearth this could be metal, tile or stone – really any non flammable material. Metal is probably the best especially if you space ever moves (RV’s & Tiny Houses on Wheels).
Note: check with your stove manufacturer about narrowing cleanliness with heat shields. A general rule of thumb is 66% reduction of clearances with a non-combustible shield that includes a 1″ air-gap behind below and above.
A simple heat shield can be constructed out of a piece sheet of metal (stainless steel works well) The shield is then fitted with 1-2” long ceramic spacers then screwed or bolted to the wall. A local metal shop or fabricator (or even a scrap yard) is a good place to source materials for a heat shield. Cement board can also be used. There are premade heat shield panels that you can purchase but they are generally much more expensive than a DIY version.
SECURE TO FLOOR
Since small wood stoves are fairly light it’s a good idea to secure the stove to the floor. This is especially true for spaces that are on the move like travel trailers! Most small stoves should include mounting holes at the base or on the legs. If not drill a few holes.
Mount the stove to the floor using bolts – don’t forget washers and a lock washer. If you cannot get to the backside of the bolt use a anchor bolt or a lag bolt.
DIRECT AIR (COLD AIR INTAKE)
If your stove has a direct air option (cold air intake) install according to manufacturer’s recommendations. The Direct Air is a pipe that feeds the stove air from outside the living space. This keeps the stove from drawing cold air through outside gaps.
Wherever you place your intake be sure to use some type of grate over the entrance to keep unwanted visitors (like rodents and insects) out of your stove!
The flue or vent pipe is an important system that ensures hot gasses are safely deposited outside your living space. Traditional wood stove use 6-8” pipe. Many small wood stoves use small 3″ flue pipes or 4″ flue pipe which can be a challenge to source. One thing to keep in mind when selecting a flue is not all pipe is created equal. Just because you find a pipe that is the right diameter for your stove does not mean it’s the best or safest.
GALVANIZED. Stay away from galvanized pipe! Galvanized pipe is treated with a chemical mixture for anti-rusting properties. This chemical mixtures does not play well with hot flue gases and cause release harmful chemicals.
STAINLESS. Stainless Steel is a good option for a flue pipe but not all stainless is created equal. When sourcing pipe look for at least: 26 gauge 304 stainless steel. We offer 304 Stainless Steel in 3″ flue pipe, 4″ flue pipe & 6″ flue pipe diameters.
BLACK STOVE PIPE. Simple steel black stove pipe is cheap, effective and easy to source down to 5”. Single wall pipe is fine to use inside your space. Single walled stove pipe will allow more heat from the stove to warm you space.
INCREASER. If you flue system is 4” you can get an increase to fit your stove then use a 5” flue system.
The pipe that exits your structure needs to be double walled insulated. This insulated pipe allows for much narrow clearances (which means a smaller hole you have to cut in your roof or wall!) Coupling your single walled stove pipe to a short section of multi-walled pipe allows the hot gases to be isolated from combustibles (insulation & wood structure, etc.) This multi-walled pipe then is fitted into place with wall clips or small brackets to mount it in place. Once this is fitted into place a trim ring is placed inside against the wall for a nice finished look.
The stoves flue can exit the structure from the ceiling or through a side wall. In most cases the ceiling installation makes the most sense. This allows the heat from the flue to remain inside the space for maximum heating efficiency.
Now that the flue is exiting your space you need to waterproof the whole so no water gets inside. One of the best solutions I’ve seen is the silicone pipe boot gaskets. They have a high heat rating, are flexible and watertight. In North America you can’t find any silicone pipe boot that are not blaze orange in color. There are black and grey boots but these are made from EDPM rubber and rated for very high heat.
PIPE COWL / HOOD / ROOF VENT
At the top of your flue pipe a cowl or hood is a good idea to keep the elements out of the pipe. If you’re regularly moving your home it’s a good idea to make this removable plus have a cap to seal up the pipe when transporting.
Your stove is safely installed and almost ready for use. Before you begin burning install these safety devices: smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and a fire extinguisher.
SMOKE DETECTOR. Mount smoke detector at the top of the wall or on the ceiling. Keep detector at least 10’ away from stove to minimize false alarms.
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR. Mount CO detector floor level (carbon monoxide sinks) near the stove.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER. Keep a small fire extinguisher easily accessible.