More and more people are starting to add wood-burning stoves to their fireplaces. Not only do they tend to be easier to maintain, but they can pack a real punch when it comes to heat.
Converting an old fireplace to accept a wood stove isn’t all that difficult either. While it is recommended that you have a professional installer carry out the work, this is also something that you should be able to tackle yourself.
Considerations Before Installing a Wood Stove in an Existing Fireplace
Your biggest consideration when it comes to installing a freestanding wood stove in a fireplace is whether you have a chimney. You will need to have one to take that smoke away and ensure that the air in your home is kept nice and fresh. A chimney can be installed by a professional if you do not have one.
Each freestanding wood stove will have its chimney requirements, so you must pay attention to those. You will also need to ensure that you have a metal chimney or a masonry chimney that has been lined with metal. Bare masonry doesn’t support the heat from a wood stove all that well and will require a lot more maintenance.
You may also need to check the regulations for your local area to see whether you are allowed to install a wood stove. Some places are unhappy to have smoke pouring out of your chimney, and freestanding wood stoves will produce a lot of smoke.
This is a critical consideration when it comes to installing a wood-burning stove. These things only work properly when there is proper air ventilation in the room. So, if there is not a lot of air flowing in, then the wood-burning stove will burn efficiently. However, you may struggle to light it.
Again, this is where a professional is going to help because they will be able to work out whether there is enough ventilation in the room.
If there is not, then you can install a ventilation brick near the fireplace. It is a bit of extra effort, but it will be bringing in some of that outside air, which will help keep the fireplace alight.
If you have an existing fireplace, then the chances are that there will already be a ventilation brick there. This is because you would have needed it for fireplaces in the past.
What Wood Stove should you Buy?
You would think that you want to be buying a wood stove that fills up the entire fireplace area, but no. You would end up boiling to death if you did that. Wood stoves pack a real punch when it comes to heat. Therefore, the wood stove you buy will often be much smaller than the old fireplace.
This is where a professional installer can help. The type of stove you will need to buy will depend on the size of the room, the air flowing in, insulation, etc., and a professional installer can provide you guidance here.
If you are planning on doing everything yourself, then look for a wood stove calculator. They will help you determine the amount of heat the stove needs to pump out for your room size.
You must get this right. You don’t want a stove that is too large, or you will be too hot. Likewise, you do not want a stove that is too small, or you will never be able to heat the room effectively.
Should you Hire a Professional Installer?
In most cases, yes.
Yes. This is a job that you could probably tackle on your own. The problem is that it is tough to get perfect without any experience. There are some strict regulations when installing a wood stove, e.g., it should not be located too close to any combustible materials. You will also need to ensure that the smoke will go up the chimney rather than into your home.
So, while we are telling you that you can do it yourself, we will give you a few instructions on how to do that. We do, instead, suggest that you try and hire a professional to tackle the job. It won’t cost much, and it will make your life a whole lot easier.
Prepping the Fireplace
Before you can even think about sliding that freestanding wood-burning stove into its new home, you are going to need to prep the old fireplace.
Clean the Fireplace
Your first job is to clean the fireplace. If it has been used in the past, there will likely be a lot of dust and filth. So now is a time to give it a good clean. You may also want to clean the surround of the fireplace. You will be surprised at what that picks up.
Clean the Chimney
It is also important that you clean your chimney too. You do not want any ash up there clogging things up. An unclean chimney is a fire hazard. It will also send smoke floating back into the room, which we are positive that you do not want to be dealing with.
Cleaning your chimney is something that you are going to need to get used to here. Once you have a freestanding wood stove installed, you will likely need to be cleaning out that chimney a few times per year to ensure that you keep everything working in perfect condition.
Tile the Floors and Walls of the Fireplace
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, your fireplace is about to become a focal point of the room. This means that you probably want to make it look as beautiful as you possibly can.
The more practical reason is that you need there to be non-combustible materials in the fireplace. That wood stove will get incredibly hot, and you do not want the surround catching alight or cracking.
We suggest that you get yourself some suitable fireproof tiles and start lining the floor and the sides of the fireplace. Of course, you could also use bricks, but most people find that tiles are a little bit better for their purposes.
Once this is all done, you can finally get around to putting that freestanding wood-stove in its place.
Installing the Wood Stove in Fireplace
Honestly, this is going to be the simplest part of the process.
Here, we suggest that you consult the manufacturer’s manual for the freestanding wood stove you own. This is because there will be specific requirements for positioning the wood stove, i.e., it may need to have a certain amount of space on either side of it.
Locating the Freestanding Wood Stove
Based on the manufacturer’s requirements and the aesthetic appearance, it is up to you to locate the freestanding wood stove in the fireplace. Remember, these are pretty big pieces of kit. This means that you will need to ensure that you have multiple people to move it into place.
Connecting to the Chimney
One of the great benefits of a freestanding wood stove is that you likely do not need to do much to connect it up to the chimney.
As you will likely have been able to tell by now, there will be a stovepipe on the back of the wood-burning stove. All you need to do is point this toward the chimney, and you should be good to go.
In the rare event that the stove pipe is not large enough to fit into the chimney, then you will always be able to extend it.
If you do not have a chimney, this doesn’t mean that you will not be able to install the wood-burning stove. However, it does mean that you will need to contact a professional to carry out the job for you. They will be able to install a chimney or venting system into your property.
After this, your only job is to ensure that you keep the wood stove properly maintained. This means that you regularly need to clean out any ash. It means that you regularly need to check for any cracks in the tiling. It means that you have to keep your chimney clean.
If you carry out these jobs, then that freestanding wood-burning stove will provide you with many years of warmth.
Installing a freestanding wood stove doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, in most cases, it is just a case of ensuring that you choose the right size for your fireplace and you are ready to go. As long as the stovepipe is pointing toward that chimney, it should adequately vent the smoke. This is a job that most people should be able to tackle themselves. However, it is always wise to call in a professional to ensure that everything about the design is sound.