Wood-burning stoves are a great alternative to traditional fireplaces since they burn more efficiently and clean. If you have a gas or traditional fireplace in your house, you may be wondering if you can convert it into a wood stove.
You can convert a fireplace into a wood-burning stove. But, you have to determine several factors before attempting it. This includes having adequate space around the stove, safe distances, proper ventilation, and other essential precautions.
Also, keep in mind that just because you have a fireplace doesn’t mean it will be practical to convert it. Generally, fireplaces in new homes do not have chimneys appropriate for a wood-burning stove. Instead, gas fireplaces come with their type of treatment.
How do you Install a Wood-Burning Fireplace with an Existing Chimney?
It is not advisable to install a wood-burning fireplace on your own unless you are already an expert at it. You should always enlist the help of a certified professional before installing something like this. But, it’s always a good idea to educate yourself on what the process involves. This way, you’ll know what to expect.
The chimney is the main feature to consider when converting an old fireplace into a wood stove. You have to consider well in advance how this can work with practicality and safety in mind. Depending on the setup you have, you may need to have add-ons installed or do some remodeling.
Traditional brick chimneys provide a good basis for installation. But, some chimneys comprise combustible materials, which are going to require stainless steel covering. For instance, you may have to install stainless steel flue liners to help draw the stove. This will ensure a sealed passage for smoke and gasses to escape.
Exhaust Exit for Airflow
The position and exit pattern of the chimney will also be a factor. The most ideal goes straight up and out of the house. This makes installing a chimney liner relatively easy.
But, if the flue has an angle or bend, it will require additional configuration and materials with precise measurements. Only after proper placement of the liners can you install the stove.
Last but not least, the chimney’s “throat” will need capping via sealing and/or a register panel to prevent additional airflow through the chimney. The only airflow should be what comes through and around the stove.
Can you convert a fireplace to a wood stove?
It’s a definite possibility to consider converting your fireplace but, if your setup isn’t just right, it can end up costing quite a bit of time and money. However, under ideal conditions, this can be rather inexpensive to do.
Size, Space; Distance
As long as the existing fireplace is in proportion to the wood-burning stove, you can get it installed inside the fireplace. The main consideration here is keeping in line with building laws and regulations while leaving enough space around the stove to ensure proper airflow, heat output, and a way for the exhaust to escape safely.
Gas fireplaces tend to have surroundings of wallpaper, plasterboard, or other things that can easily catch fire. So, there has to be enough distance away from these things when considering a wood-burning stove. If the fireplace comprises stone, brick, or other non-combustible material, ensuring enough distance for airflow will be your only concern.
How do you begin the process of conversion?
Of course, you should enlist professional assistance to do this right. So, there are a few things to do before you begin any work. Always check with local building regulations and national agency guidelines. Some areas may forbid the use of a wood-burning stove, and other municipalities have smoke control zones.
Gas Fireplace Removal
If you have a gas fireplace, you will have to contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to disconnect and remove your fireplace. They have to cap off the connection as well. The safe disconnection of the gas line is of the utmost importance before any further work can occur.
Inspection Checklist; Techniques
Whether you have a chimney or not, have the area of your home inspected where you want to install the stove. This is a crucial step, and it will save many headaches later on.
Ensure the following points are in proper order and condition in the event you have an existing chimney:
- Brick ; Mortar
- Flue/Chimney Liner
Another inspection method is the coring ball test. It highlights obstructions and helps determine the flue’s size by lowering a ball from the top with a rope.
Once you have the okay for a wood stove, hire a chimney sweep to clean the flue. This will save a world of issues once work begins.
How important is ventilation?
Ventilation is the most important aspect of a wood-burning stove. Without adequate airflow, the stove won’t function right. This is because wood stoves only need two fuels: wood and oxygen.
Oxygen; Sufficient Ventilation
Without enough oxygen, the fire won’t burn well or not at all. This is because the stove draws oxygen from the room in which it sits. So to figure out the best and most sufficient ventilation, you have to compare the heat output of the stove in relationship to how much airflow is available in the room.
If your stove outputs 5kW or less, ventilation won’t be so much of a pressing issue. But, if it’s more than 5kW, plan on having 550 mm2 of permanent ventilation for each additional kilowatt. But, again, professional installers will be able to help better you understand this.
Think long and hard about how the stove will accommodate ventilation throughout your air vent system and how the exhaust travels away from the house. If this is inadequate in any way, you will have to remodel the space to make it suitable. During your ruminations, keep the following in mind:
· Measure the dimensions of the fireplace and estimate its suitability for a wood-burning stove.
· Measure the dimensions of the wood stove in proportion to the dimensions of the fireplace.
· The kind of flue connecting to the fireplace to ensure proper emission and ventilation.
· Determine if the chimney can accommodate the stove’s flue liner.
· Check to see how the chimney will connect to the stove practically and safely.
What factors indicate the fireplace is good to convert to a wood stove?
Homes built within 10 to 20 years often have chimneys without flues or a balanced flue system. Neither of which is suitable for this kind of conversion. But, if your fireplace has a conventional chimney, you can turn it into a wood-burning stove. This is possible for both gas and traditional types of fireplaces.
Configuring Room; Space
Once you determine adequate ventilation, then there are other factors to consider. Remember, these stoves radiate intense heat for several hours at a time. So there must be sufficient room around the back, sides, and top of the stove to ensure safety and prevent overheating.
Airflow behind the stove is at the top of consideration estimations. There must be enough space all the way around to offset the distance of the stove. This will include thinking about heat output, airflow, and how the stove could damage the surrounding area.
Is it necessary to have a chimney for a wood-burning stove?
Although a chimney isn’t necessary to have a wood-burning stove, the exhaust does need a way to release. But, this is why traditional fireplaces offer more convenience because there is already a passage for exhaust. If there isn’t a flue, you can install a twin wall insulated flue into the roof or an external wall installation.
Can gas fireplace flues convert into wood stoves?
Gas fireplace flues can’t convert into a wood-burning stove. The design of it can’t withstand the intense heat output. Gas flues often comprise a single skin and won’t channel the exhaust correctly. Although it may seem like a good idea to remove the flue and allow the fumes to emanate from the new chimney, this is not advisable.
Since hot air doesn’t rise well in cold cavities, it will present its problems. If the hot air cools down, it will fall back into your living space. This will create not only a sooty mess but also serious health issues. Having a stable flue liner helps prevent this from happening.
Although several factors to consider before converting your fireplace into a wood-burning stove, it is possible. But, you want to think about how it can work and if it will be practical. This means having your home and chimney inspected along with hiring expert help and advice. Then, depending on your setup, it could be a perfect and quick transformation.