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Primer for the new stove buyer

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Jul 30, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Please read ask questions before you purchase a stove. We need to put together a primer for the new stove buyer, step by step education process. Most post start out which stove is best. The main concern is already missed. You are buying a stove without factoring the installation process. First question one should ask what is required for a successful install? What is the area size you are trying to heat?

    1. What is the dimensions or my existing chimney liner? Is my chimney tall enough to draft correctly? One-story ranch homes have short chimneys. Many manufactures specs call for a certain minimum vertical length to draft correctly (usually around 16’)

    2. If it is being shared with another appliance it can not be used. Seperate flues for each appliance


    3. What is the condition of the chimney and liner? When was the last time it was cleaned and inspected? Are the clay flues relatively straight and aligned? Does the chimney have any missing, damaged flue tiles, or mortar missing between flue tiles? Also look for missing or deteriorating bricks and for excessive creosote build up. All creosote should be cleaned and removed to prevent a fire hazard

    4. Have you factored in its location? Chimneys located on outside walls with 3 sides exposed to the weather draft poorer than central located ones. Will I need a full liner? Do I have room for it? Should it be insulated?


    5. Liners:, Which are best? Corrugated are cheaper but not as good as smooth round ones. Governing codes require HT 2100 and UL approval 103. Some liners are tested with insulation; meaning insulation must be used but meet code requirements. Flue size constraints may rule out insulated liners, so one must use the better grade liner without insulation. One could be lucky and have a separate good condition 8/8 clay flue, where a connector pipe is all that is needed. Remember, this is a primer I hope all will expand upon.

    6. Using your existing fireplace to vent the stove: NFPA 211 2003 cross-sectional code all 6” flue collar a stoves require a full liner using the fireplace flue in an exposed outside wall chimney. The only direct connection for an 6” flue collar stove, is when it is being connected to an interior chimney. The 12/12 is too large to draft from a 6” collar. A full liner is required and there is plenty of room for insulation.
    The problem start with the 8/12 clay flue, having inside measurements of 6.75 by 11” Quite a chore insulating it in that confined space, especially if, the flues are not aligned or you encounter an off set. Code also requires the damper area to be blocked off



    7. What to do with the damper obstacle? The plate is removed. The remaining opening is less than 6”. There are a couple of options here, flue wise. The damper frame is broken out so that the 6” will fit through; the other option is to ovalize the flue. Even though it remains the same interior area, ovalizing creates friction (A great place for creosote build up). Add the fiction associated with corrugate liners and the friction is compounded worse. The code calls for closing off the damper area with a metal plate. A couple of final points about venting. Do not assume because your fireplace drafted ok the new wood stove will also. Your fireplace has close to 900 sq inches your stove 28, quite a difference.


    8. Connecting pipes, the pipes that connect the stove to the flue. They have to be no less than 24 gage steel and pitch upward to the chimney inlet. A better product to use is welded seam 22 gage connector pipe. Again horizontal runs should be as short as possible with fewest directional changes. Some Stove manufactures list the maximum length of run and maximum turns or elbows Each connector pipe must fully pushed in so that no corrugation is seen and have 1.5” overlap, and be fastened by sheet metal screws or rivets 3 equally spaced per joint. Clearance to combustibles of single wall pipe is 18” in all directions Double wall pipe or triple wall pipes reduce the clearance distances, but once used the rest of the run must be Double wall you can not go back to single wall.

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  2. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Nice post elk, i think that is a better way to approach it then a strait up review. We need to get together a good "buyers guide" and make it a sticky, I think this is a good start. Me? Im drinking whisky and coke, and if im not carefull i will get all sappy and lovey dubby on here. So im just goint to skip the elaboration tonite, and post more tommorrow. But, i think it would be good to keep it simple, some of the codes can be confusing to new people in the biz, i think simplifying the qualification process would be the way to go, then more details as questions come up.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I think these are great points and an ideal Wiki item, perhaps under the title - Installation Considerations. If they were supplemented with clearance information I think it would be a great asset. If you'd like any help reviewing, I'd be glad to proof-read.
  4. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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    The first thing I ask is
    How much area are you trying to heat? and is this a New install or a replacement?
    50% of the buyers try to Buy a Stove to Large
    You never want to oversize a stove for your heating area with newer stoves because you want to have small hot fires not large smoldering fires
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Rod, that brings up a dilemma. I'm not disagreeing with your assesment. 12 years burning hot with little creosote has convinced me that we must be doing something right. But we've done it at the expense of having to tend the stove pretty frequently. Is there a middle ground? I'm totally reconfiguring our heating for the next season. The pellet stove is gone so we'll be relying on the wood stove more and it's moving into the livingroom so we'd really like to not have to feed it so frequently. For this reason I've been considering moving up to a stove with more cu ft capacity. Yet your post seems to discourage this. What do you see as the sweet spot where one can burn hot, yet have the capacity to burn long as well?
  6. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Yea woodstoves can be tricky to size. Vaulted celings, poor insulation, wood quality, lots of things play into it. the first thing i ask is how much do you want to heat, the second is how long do you want it to burn, the third is how hot are you willing to get for the x amount of burn time you just told me (they all want overnight) the third would be what kind of stove do you like astheticy, steel, cast, or soapstone. And usually that series of questions will get them pinned down on what they need. Then we have a long house layout, construction quality discussion. With those few things figured out, i rarley have customers calling me back un happy. And the golden rule in my opinion, is that a customer is always happier to be a little to warm then to cold. For some reason, when people have company over, there almost proud when there blasting people out.
  7. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Begreen its my belief that you can burn any size stove you wish, but you have to be willing to let the stove burn down to the point that you have hot coals before you cut the air off to it. The problem is that you will typically burn your self out in that phase of combustion waiting for the coals to get ripe. So as far as burn rate, i believe that 100% open untill its coals, then as little air as you want once the coal bed is established. Then as long as you dont pack it again, one log will burn pretty good with a big coal bed and one fresh log on a low setting. And gthe last point i would make, is that you dont have to jam pack the firebox. You can put 2 or three logs in there start them up, and let em burn 5 lbs of wood puts out the same heat in a 40k btu stove as a 80k btu stove.
  8. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Totaly agree . I could heat half the size of my house with the same size stove when run correct ( PE summit ) I get a good coal bed going and run 1 or 2 small logs when it is above 30° outside and have no probelm in the large stove . When it gots colder outside than you can start adding the extra wood . I dont think a wood stove is like an A/C unit. An A/C unit has to be sized to the house to run correct . The modern stovge can be over sized and work great whe it is loaded correct. I cleaned my chimney this summer and had less then a cup of powder ash from the pipe .
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Encouraging words. It seems that you disagree a little with Rod's perspective, though his may be for the less informed wood burner. I don't mind managing my woodflow in accordance with the temps outside.Though it's a bit more of a challenge with the milder winters in the Pac NW.
  10. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    i think that our fuel type begreen has something to do with it, stoves dont perform near the manufactures specs as they do out east.
  11. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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    My point is that Im not going to put a Mansfield or a Olympic in a 1200 sq foot home Just because the homeowner whats a BIG firebox like his Old Outlawed Fisher did.

    Buyers that shop for newstoves to replace their 4 cubic foot 1981 Earthstove have a hard time understanding that a 2 cubuc foot firebox is going to heat the same or better and longer burn times. Most stoves burn around 5-8 hour average but I see 12 hour burn time when air is draft down.
  12. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Unless its a cat stove which is designed to run at a low to medium burn.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    MSG, we are looking at the Oslo or the Shelburne as possibles. You sell both right? How would you compare the two - strengths weaknesses? Our needs are:

    Good heater efficiency and clean burns
    Low corner installation clearances (more heat from front than sides or rear)
    Longer burns with softwood
    Nice aesthetics
    Well made for the long-haul
    Easy to use

    (heating 2000sq. ft. in PacNW.)
  14. HarryBack

    HarryBack New Member

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    good points, all. My only concern is that most of your typical homeowners cannot answer some, if not all, of Elks pre-emptive guide. Possibly a good way to approach this is an on-site visit? Everyones chimney is pristine, etc....when we know that isnt the case.
    I think Elk can probably add alot of things to his list. My concern is that while all of his points are valid, his list has been created from an inspectors viewpoint, not a sales viewpoint. You risk alienating your customer. I suggest one free on-site consultation prior to the final sale.
  15. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    It is very difficult to come up with a "one size fits all" question and answer sheet. When a customer walks into my showroom and says their looking for a wood stove my 1st question is always "are you replacing an existing wood stove?". Depending on their answer my next questions can be very different each time and the coversation can go in a many different directions depending on what they currently have (or not) and what they need. If a customer needs a class A chimney there is no need for them to know about chimney liners.

    One thing that we need to keep in mind is that the people who this would benifit most do not have the experience gained knowledge that we on this site do. There is a lot of info needed to cover every situation and sorting through it for newbies can be very confusing because of terminology that most people are not familiar with.

    Also, I agree that it should be approached from a softer point a view. I think that most homeowners are put off by the saying stuff like "Governing codes require HT 2100 and UL approval 103." Think about if you were in the market for a new wood stove, never had any prior experience with hearth products or codes and read that. It would mean absolutely nothing. The terminology in codes, although cut and dry (as they should be), do not make sense to most lay people and must be explained in a manner that they can understand.

    I do like the idea and see the value in the end result. I think that most of us here, to some degree, want to help promote alternative and green energy. So, I feel a more personal touch is best, which we definetly have going on but that doesn't mean we can't build on it.

    We get a lot of new or soon to be new wood (and other fuel) burners here and often we have to respond to their original posts with more questions. Maybe a good aproach would be what I like to call a Profile or a Survey. Have a form that asks questions like:

    What type of fuel would you like to use?

    Do you have an existing chimney and what type?

    What is you main goal with a hearth product?

    Please describe in you own words how you invision you new hearth product. Both finished look wise and funtionality.

    ECT ECT

    _________________

    Maybe it could even be a multiple choice thing to help guide the person to the right answer.

    Of course this is just of the top of my head and would need to be built on, but I feel something like this could be a good first post in a new thread instead of the good old "which stove is best?" question. This would give us a good lead in to help the questioner down the right path with proper installation as a the 1st thought and what brand of stove as the 2nd thought.


    Edit - fixed a sentence that didn't make sense.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    For a new stove buyer wiki or primer I would suggest adding this article from 2001 Mother Earth News which covered the options pretty well:

    http://tinyurl.com/rvue7
  17. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    I agree with these statements. Have had the problem before, upgrading from the medium Regency to the large.

    Burning the large stove to get smoke free operation resulted in too much heat. Could never figure how to dampen down to get smoke free operation and even heat. The medium was easier to get it running smoke free without burning us out. Odd thing was that we never got a longer burn time with the larger firebox!

    But, I have a Soapstone now and all of those past issues are GONE!
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