Company Blog

Why Wood-Burning Stoves Need to Be Professionally Installed

Want to save money on your heating bills this winter? Convert your traditional fireplace into an efficient heating appliance with a wood-burning stove. Many people think that they need to switch fuel types to gas to heat more efficiently, but newer technology allows stove manufacturers to create wood-burning units that are even approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, problems can quickly arise to the point of hazardous situations if the stove has not been installed by professional fireplace and chimney technicians, like our staff at All Seasons Chimney. We would like to tell you more about why wood-burning stoves need to be professionally installed to guarantee proper and safe operation.

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Why exactly is professional installation so important for wood-burning stoves?

The main installation issue that occurs when installing a new stove into a masonry fireplace deals with the difference between the sizes of the chimney’s flue and the stove’s vent. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), wood stoves operate at their safest and most efficient when attached to a chimney whose flue size most closely matches the size of the vent pipe that connects the stove to the chimney. The chimney professionals at All Seasons Chimney can ensure this by installing a stainless steel liner from the top of the stove to the top of the chimney.

Are there building codes concerning wood-burning stove installation?

Yes, since 1984, national building codes and standards have required that the connector vent pipe extend from its outlet on the stove, up through the fireplace damper, and to the first flue tile of a masonry chimney. Today, it is recommended to install a stainless steel liner that extends the length of the chimney, from the stove to the top of the chimney.

What kind of problems arise when the flue is not the right size for the stove?

Most often, the flue of a masonry chimney will be much larger than the wood-burning stove. This causes cooler temperatures in the upper walls of the chimney, which sets up the perfect environment for the rapid production of creosote. Occurring naturally as part of the process of burning wood, creosote is highly hazardous and flammable. It can accumulate into dangerously large deposits when the upper walls of the chimney are cool. Cooler chimney walls means more condensation, which means more creosote. This increase in moisture can also leak into the bricks and mortar of the chimney where it can cause expensive damage. A stainless steel liner not only reduces the amount of creosote, but it can also prolong the life of your chimney by protecting it from heat deterioration and corrosion.

You can save a lot of money with a new wood-burning stove, but to save this money, you need to have it professionally installed. Contact us at All Seasons Chimney to learn how we can help you heat your home more efficiently this winter.

Fireplace Troubleshooting

A fireplace adds a certain ambiance that no other addition to the home does. The crackling warmth and the dancing flames – this mystical allure draws in people of all types and ages. Everyone loves a good fireplace, but when it starts causing frustrating problems, some homeowners would sooner forget it even exists! Before walling over your fireplace though, consider some basic troubleshooting ideas that may be behind the dysfunction.

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Often, the most troubling problems have the simplest solutions. For example, the fire may extinguish quickly or send smoke into the house just because the damper has not opened correctly. Prior to lighting the fire, glance up the chimney with the damper open to make sure it has actually opened. When open, you should have a view of the entire flue. If all you see is darkness or mostly darkness, the damper has not opened properly. When jiggling the handle or turning it the opposite direction does not open the damper, call out a chimney expert to check the condition of it before lighting any more fires.

Another problem that may lead to a nonexistent, weak, or smoky fire is burning wet wood. This only applies to wood burning fireplaces, but it can be a serious problem. Firewood needs to season, or sit uncovered in a dry area, for one to two years prior to burning. Unseasoned wood usually has high water content, so most of the fire’s energy goes toward boiling the water away instead of making flames and heat. For this reason, wet wood often produces weak and smoky fires, if it even lights at all.

When these two issues have been solved or eliminated and the fireplace is still causing problems, there may be a draft problem in the house. Imagine hot air from the fire constantly moving up and out the chimney. This air comes from inside the house and it must be replaced in some way in order for the fire to continue burning properly. Sometimes the air cannot be replaced, which can be due to an overly airtight house – a common problem in newer construction. Fixing this might involve opening a window while burning or having an outside air vent installed.

A problematic draft can result from a variety of issues besides having an airtight home. For instance, an obstruction in the chimney could be blocking proper air flow. Possible obstructions include built up soot or creosote that needs to be cleaned or even an animal nesting inside the flue. The simple fix for this is to have the chimney swept at least once per year as required by fire codes. Another issue involves the structure of the chimney itself. The chimney may be too short or it may be too wide for a newer fireplace insert. Both of these situations can lead to weak and smoky fires. Have an annual chimney inspection along with a sweep to determine if this is the problem.

For more information on possible fireplace issues and to schedule a sweep and inspection in the Hudson Valley area, contact All Seasons Chimney.