Does A Wood Stove Pipe Have To Go Straight Up?

Summer isn’t quite over yet, but it is never too early to prepare for the colder months. So if you have been considering installing a wood stove in your home, now is the time to start working. 

There are many questions people typically have when wanting to install a wood stove, most of which relate to the installation of the pipe that vents air and smoke from the stove. Does it have to be straight? Does it have to vent to the outdoors? How many bends does it need? We will answer all these questions and more in this article. 

Here we will go into all the safety requirements for installing a wood stove in your home so you can ensure proper installation and use once the weather cools down in the next couple of months. 

How Much Angle Can You Have on a Single-Wall Wood Stove Pipe?

An ideal stove pipe should be short and straight, as much so as you can manage. The straighter the stove pipe is, the better the ventilation and easier time smoke will have going up and out of your home. 

The fewer bends you can manage in your stovepipe, the better it is for heating and general function. 

How Many Bends can you have in a Wood Stove Pipe?

Most places recommend no more than four 45 degree bends in one pipe. Alternately, no more than 2 90 degree bends. 

Not only will a straighter stove pipe heat your home more effectively, but the fewer bends you have, the easier the flue is to clean. And cleaning will have to be done with some regularity so you can avoid chimney fires. 

However, stovepipes are typically straight to offer the best inflow and outflow of gasses and heat. 

Only add a bend to your wood stove pipe if you have no other options and cannot possibly have a straight stove. Not only will bend in the stovepipe affect how gasses move through the pipes and get vented out, but if something goes wrong.

You need your pipe to be inspected; it is more likely that the whole stove pipe will have to be disassembled if there are bends in it so a maintenance worker can see inside and identify the issue. 

Can you Run a Wood Stove Pipe Horizontally?

Without additional support, you can run a wood stove pipe horizontally for three feet or one meter. However, running a wood stove pipe horizontally at all is still not ideal. 

Most woodstove pipes need to be vented through a ceiling, and though they can be vented through a wall, it is not recommended because you would need to find a non-combustible wall to run your pipe through. 

If you plan to run the pipe horizontally, you need to make sure there is at least a three-inch clearing from the top and one inch from the bottom of the pipe to prevent fires. And if you run the pipe horizontally through the wall, you need to have a thimble to allow safe passage through the wall. 

How Many Elbows can a Wood Stove Have?

Most sources recommend no more than two 90 degree bends or elbows in a stove pipe. The chimney will not draw hot air well the more bends in the pipe there are. And again, the more bends in the pipe you have, the more work you have to do to clean the pipe. 

Ideally, if you can, your wood stove would have a straight and vertical chimney that is vented through a ceiling. Unfortunately, that is not possible for everyone, so we need to find solutions. If you need to vent through any walls, you should do so through a wall made of non-combustible materials like stone or brick. 

If you don’t have stone or brick walls, you will need to install a thimble that will protect your drywall from the heat of the pipe. 

And if you need to add bends to your pipes, add no more than four 45 degree angles or two 90 degree angles. They also must have a few inches of leeway on each die between a wall to prevent house fires. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Installing Wood Stoves

When installing wood stoves, there are things you want to make sure you do and things you want to make sure you avoid. Making sure you reference this do and don’t section will ensure that base safety needs are met for installing a wood stove. 

Here is a list of important dos and don’ts for your consideration, so when you install your wood stove, you know how to be as safe as possible and prevent fires or citations.  

Do’s

  • Make sure there is space between your stove and anything that could be considered a combustible material. This includes making sure there is space between the stove and walls, floors, and ceilings. 
  • Make sure your stove is sitting on a non-combustible base like stone or brick because the bottoms of the stoves can get hot enough to start a fire on combustible bases. 
  • Always have a professional mason check the chimney to ensure that it is cleared for use and safe. 
  • Only burn wood that is completely dry and/or seasoned. Seasoned wood is just wood that has been adequately dried for burning. 
  • Ventilate any space you plan to use a wood stove by opening a window or door so your rooms don’t fill with smoke.
  • And lastly, always clear out the ash after every use of your stove. 

Don’ts

  • Don’t extend the chimney of your stove through a wall or a ceiling unless you have absolutely no other option, in which case you should consult a mason for inspection.
  • Don’t place your wood stove in a fireplace unless the fireplace’s chimney has already been sealed off. 
  • Never connect a wood stove chimney with a chimney of an appliance that burns fuels different from the wood you would use in your stove.
  • Never start or encourage the fire in your stove with liquid fuel such as gasoline or kerosene unless you want your house to burn down. 
  • Only burn wood and never trash, even paper, in your wood stove because doing so can lead to a chimney fire. 
  • Lastly, never leave your wood stove burning and unattended. 

Installing your Stove

Before installing anything in your home that has to do with fire, always check with local authorities and fire marshals to make sure you are following their guidelines and not breaking any laws or regulations. 

If you’re planning on using a wood stove to heat your home, you should consider installing it in a central space. Keep in mind, however, that heat rises. So if you place a stove too close to a stairwell, the heat will likely go up the stairs and not heat the ground floor very effectively. 

You will also need three feet of clearance between your stove and any combustible wall or ceiling to adhere to the National Fire Protection Association standards. 

Similarly, you will need 18 inches of non-combustible space around the entire stove. If there are less than two inches of ventilated space underneath the stove, you need to make sure the stove’s base is on a non-combustible material.

Chimney Requirements

Existing fireplace chimneys should not be used to vent a new wood stove unless it is sealed off before the entry point of the stove chimney to prevent toxic gases from venting back into your home.

Always have a mason or chimney sweep inspect your chimney to ensure it is clean and safe to use before lighting any fires in your stove. 

Only have one heat source vent into your chimney to prevent cross ventilation and gasses and sparks going into the same flue, which can cause fires. 

Dampers

Unless your stove has an automatic draft regulator, you will need to install a manually operated damper near the stove. A damper retains the heat created by the stove so it can spread through a room or your home. Dampers need to be open when starting a fire in your stove so as much air as possible can get into the stove. 

It would help if you also considered installing a second damper higher up on the stovepipe in case of a chimney fire to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of your home. 

Final Thoughts

Installing a wood-burning stove in your home can be a daunting task with a lot of safety precautions. Hopefully, with this article, you can feel more informed and prepared to heat your home with a wood stove this upcoming winter. With this list of do’s and don’ts, along with advice about installing your pipe, you are ready to start work on installing your wood stove.

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