Hearth News

Learn Helpful Tips & Tricks from the Community

Installing Your Catalytic Woodstove:


Improper installation of your woodstove can result in a house fire and cause greater pollution. If a stove isn’t installed properly, it can also affect the draft of the stove (i.e., ability to draw combustion air and expel exhaust). Proper draft is critical to reducing pollution and maintaining high efficiency. Before having your stove installed, be sure to check with local authorities regarding building codes and permits, and notify your fire insurance company. The following tips discuss the importance of proper installation.

What You Should DO:

DO have your woodstove professionally installed by a certified installer.

BECAUSE: A certified installer can determine the proper draft for your stove, make sure all the seals are tight, and ensure that your stove is installed with all safety measures in mind.

DO consult a certified installer about the need for a flue liner in your masonry chimney.

BECAUSE: Lining the chimney can help maintain proper draft and prevent icing, which can block your chimney.

DO use the manufacturer’s recommended flue diameter.

BECAUSE: An improperly sized flue will not provide the draft needed to operate the stove. Also, smoke may leak into your house through the air inlets without proper draft.

DO make certain that all seals connecting the stove to the flue, and within the flue, are as tight as possible.

BECAUSE: Tight seals will prevent smoke from leaking into your house and contribute to good draft.

Operating Your Catalytic Woodstove:

Follow the procedures below to operate your stove for maximum efficiency and minimum pollution. The catalyst plays an important part in how well your stove...
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces PROPER ASH REMOVAL
By Ken Rajesky, Hearth Industry Expert

Whenever you burn a solid fuel, such as wood, coal, or pellets, in your stove, fireplace, or insert, you will be left with ashes to remove. These ashes must be removed periodically as they can affect both performance and durability of the product. The frequency of this ash removal will depend on the product itself, the type of fuel being burned, and the species of the fuel (e.g. softwoods vs. hardwoods, anthracite coal vs. bituminous). Small bits of hot coals removed, mixed and buried within the ashes, represent a hidden danger. What many consumers are unaware of is that these hot coals can stay dormant for weeks when buried in ashes. The ash acts as an insulator keeping coals from burning out. All these coals need to flare up once more is oxygen. It’s for this reason fire departments often return to a scene to place more water on smoldering timbers and newly flared coals.

What is commonly done is to take the ashes from the appliance and place them into a plain, simple, metal pail. The thinking is that the metal pail will not catch fire. Logical, but a metal pail is not enough. Then, the pail is placed outside on the porch because it’s outside and cold. Again, logical but it’s not enough.


Most fires related to ash removal start this very way because a lidless pail sits exposed when a winter’s breeze comes along, and stirs the pail’s contents. The coals become active again, the pail’s temperature increases, and the floor can begin to char. Worse yet, the winter’s breeze actually disperses the now-active coals onto the wood porch and worse problems soon begin. Warning: always treat removed ashes with a great deal of respect, and do not leave them unattended for long.

Differences in Ashes

If the ashes are from wood, they make an excellent...
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces STOVE GASKET MAINTENANCE
by Ken Rajesky, Hearth Industry Expert

Before you start any procedure involving your product, its important to first check your manufacturers instructions to ensure that the cleaner or the method that you plan to use complies with their requirements. This is especially important if the product is still under warranty. This information will also tell you what size gaskets to use, and how much is needed.

Always make sure that you have the proper safety equipment such as gloves or glasses. Adhesives may be caustic to your skin, and your eyes are irreplaceable. We recommend that you have the following tools:

Time to Replace the Gasket!

Safety Goggles

Filter mask

Small ball peen hammer

Dead blow hammer

Thin bladed screwdriver

Caulking gun

Paper towels

Gloves, if you are sensitive to adhesives

Gasket Cement

Wire brush

Shop Vacuum

Masking tape

Questions that frequently arise are:

Is that gasket material made of asbestos?

What type of glue should I use?

First, all modern stove gaskets are made of fiberglass. Fiberglass gasket is available in many sizes, and density. The combination of thickness and density will depend on the application on the product. A frequently opened door may need a larger, more-dense gasket for a better seal and durability. A glass gasket, for example is typically not large or dense because it is not required to be large, nor is the gasket disturbed very often.

Gasket adhesive also varies. There are many types available, and most of them are okay. I highly recommend Heat Safe Gasket Cement. It is available in a small tube and will take care of most stoves. It is easy to work with, flows nicely from the tube, and keeps the gasket tight to the frame or door. It is an excellent product. If you cannot find this brand, look for a cement which flows easily - some tends to harden in the tube.


Gasket and Heat Safe Cement

1. First, clean the...
There are a number of types of manufactured logs available today. Many are made from sawdust and wax and are therefore not suitable for use in closed stoves. However, certain brands such as Presto, North Idaho and Eco are tested for use in both open fireplaces and closed stoves. Presto and North Idaho are just two of the brands which are made from 100% pressed wood - no additives!

As of the time of this writing, 100% wood pressed logs were more readily available in Western States, probably because of the large quantity of sawdust from lumbering operations there. Hopefully this trend will spread to other parts of the country as wood burning becomes more popular as a way to save money and gain energy independence.

Our thanks to Duraflame for the information below, which pertains to firelogs with wax additives.


The manufactured firelog is an example of how recycling can work. It was created in the 1960’s when companies were seeking a productive way to dispose of waste sawdust. Manufactured firelogs combine two industrial byproducts, sawdust and petroleum wax, which are mixed and extruded into familiar log like shapes. Manufactured firelogs are generally individually wrapped with paper and require no kindling or starting material. This convenient manufactured fireplace fuel product provides a safe, environmentally responsible alternative to firewood and natural gas logs.

Firelogs are easy to light and perform much like a candle with the sawdust particles serving as the wick, and the wax as the fuel. The result is a longer, more consistent burn than cord wood that almost fully consumes the firelog, leaving little ash to clean up after the firelog is finished burning. Their ease of use, physical cleanliness, attractive flame, and good quality fire have made their use in fireplaces very popular, creating an annual national demand of approximately 90 million logs.


Many areas of the country are enacting...
Written by Ken Rajesky, Hearth Industry Expert.

After the difficult decision of what stove to buy has been made, you’ll need to install the stove safely. However good the stove is, it’s still not safe unless installed to manufacturers specifications.

First, review the owners guide that came with the stove. Discuss the installation with your retailer. If you have further questions, contact the technical service department of the manufacturer. The Hearth.com Forums (on this site) can also help you get answers about stove clearances.

Firebrands and test booth wall w/temperature probe wires

What is a Clearance?

A clearance is the safe distance from the stove to a combustible surface. Examples of combustible materials include paneling, wood, sheet rock (even fire rated), and plaster (lathe). Safe clearances for your model were determined using a very specific and detailed U.L. protocol test procedure. The stove was placed into a wooden booth where the walls are on tracks allowing them to move back and forth. Heat sensing thermocouples are attached to the walls in specific locations. These thermocouples relay temperatures to a computer, which tracks temperatures during the test. As the stove operates, temperatures are tracked. The stove is fired as hot as possible using oven dried softwood strips which are stapled together to create a “firebrand” which burns much hotter and faster than cord wood.

The benchmark temperature, which determines safe clearances, is typically 115 degrees F over the ambient room temperature. In other words, if the ambient room temperature is 70F, the benchmark wall temperature cannot exceed 185F. If temperatures exceed 185F, the stove must be located further away from the wall. That is why movable walls on tracks are used. If the temperatures exceed 185F, the walls are moved back until the temperatures recorded are less than 185F. In a nutshell, the stove is run through the complete test, the...
One of our fine forum members (Gwleo) recently constructed a nice built-in wood stove hearth and shared his method and pictures with us. In this case, a stone platform was desired along with two adjacent corner walls.

A step by step process:

1. I did research on clearances on this web site and printed off the wood stove owners manual I was fairly sure I was going to buy (Englander NC30).

2. I drew a sketch on paper so as to visualize the plan.

3. I taped out the outline of the hearth and of the stove (I lived with this for a couple of months) I played with different heights of the wall surround until I found what I liked.


4. I used a rotary saw and cut up the composite wood floor - and had an electrician properly remove the electrical outlet..

I layed out and fastened the metal 2x4s on the floor and then the wall. The studs were installed sideways so as to take up less space.


5. I then cut and screwed on the cement board. 3 layers on the base (because I had plenty and I wanted the base that far off the floor), 1 layer on the toe kick, 2 layers on the back surround ( I used 2 layers for added heat protection and so I could use 3/4” staples for affixing the metal lathe), 1 layer on top of the surround.


6. stapled down metal lathe. ( I started by cutting the cement board with a utility knife but quickly changed to my worm drive saw, much more dust but worth it)

7. skim coat of spec mix over the lathe

8. started...
Glossary of Common Hearth and Heating Terms - Our thanks to Quadrafire, Majestic, Temco and others who contributed to this list.

Please submit new words to webinfo@hearth.com

ABSORPTION—Amount of water a masonry unit will absorb when completely submerged in either cold or boiling water for a set length of time. Absorption amount is expressed as a percentage weight increase.

ABSORPTION RATE—Weight of water absorbed by masonry unit (usually brick) in one minute.

ACCELERATOR—Material added to mortar to speed up setting time.

ACTIVE SOLAR HEATING—Indirect solar heating; solar heat is circulated mechanically (by pump or fan) from solar collectors outside the building.

ADD-ON—Solid fuel furnace or boiler that shares a heat distribution system and links controls with the existing conventional fuel appliance.

ADJUSTMENT SCREW—Part of pressure regulator used to regulate gas pressure. It should only be set with a manometer or pressure gauge.

AFUE - annual fuel utilization efficiency The AFUE rating is a measure of how much of each dollar’s (or units) worth of fuel burned by your appliance goes toward heating your home. Electric heat (radiant) is nearly 100% efficient since there is no chimney loss. Stoves, however, do put some heat and some unburnt fuel up the chimney. This is all figured into the AFUE.

AIR CONTROL—See Air Inlet Control.

AIR INFILTRATION—Typically, the passing of air into the house through small cracks or gaps inherent to the structure. Affected by temperature difference between the inside and outside of the structure, and air pressure factors (e.g. wind, the operation of solid fuel appliances or electrical appliances such as fans).

AIR INLET—The designed port(s) of entry for combustion air in a controlled combustion, solid fuel burning appliance.

AIR INLET CONTROL—The means by which the amount of air entering the air inlet is regulated. Also referred to as air control.

AIR SUPPLY—Broadly, the air that is supplied to the...
Electric Fireplaces, logs and stoves have increased in popularity over the last few years.

Electric Hearth Products

Electric Fireplaces, logs and stoves have increased in popularity over the last few years. Simplicity of installation and convenience in use are responsible for this resurgence. Electric hearth products do not need a chimney and can be easily installed almost anywhere. Because the heat output can be regulated or turned completely off, they are ideal and economical for year-round use and for the more temperate areas of the county.


Recent advances in technology have resulted in amazingly realistic flame simulation - in fact, it’s difficult to distinguish many electric fires from their gas or wood cousins. There can also be an environmental advantage to electric hearth products since no smoke or local pollution is created. Electric Cost and Use Electric Fireplaces use a very small amount of current to create their visual effects - usually about as much as 1-2 light bulbs. The cost of such a unit will be only pennies a day. Some units have optional electric heaters. The cost of operation for these electric heaters is the same as any other electric resistance heat, which is usually higher than that of gas or wood. If the heaters are used sparingly you should not see much of a jump in your electric bill. There are three basic types of electric hearth products:

Electric Fireplaces

Electric Fireplaces look similar to wood and gas models and there are countless ways to dress up and install them. One typical installation uses a prefabricated wood mantel to surround and enclose the firebox and logs. Other homeowners choose to purchase just the firebox and logs and create their own built-in look. These fireplaces are similar in size to wood models, with 36” to 42” being the...
Coal can be a viable option for those folks who live within a few hours drive of Pennsylvania’s Anthracite (hard coal) mines. This hard coal is packed with an enormous amount of energy. Coal stoves usually can burn longer on each fuel load than woodstoves and they provide a more even and controllable heat. Coal is also “American Made.”

Pennsylvania Anthracite coal is very clean burning and produces no visible smoke or creosote. However, the mining of coal can produce some negative effects on the environment. Coal is not renewable (at least not without waiting a few million years).

Coal is most efficient when burned in freestanding stoves. Some stoves are “dual-fuel” and capable of burning both wood and coal. Coal fires are difficult to start, but once alight a fire can last for weeks or even months. For this reason, coal is best suited to those who use their stoves on a full-time basis.

Maintenance—Coal Stoves—Coal stoves produce no creosote or tar, and the chimney and smoke pipe will usually only contain a white or brown fine ash coating. It is important to clean the coal stove, smoke pipe and chimney immediately following the burning season as this ash can be quite corrosive when combined with the heat and humidity of the spring and summer.

How Long will they last? A quality coal stove could easily last ten years or more. Coal burns much hotter than wood, so it should be common to replace coal grates and liners as time passes.
Some Folks say that “there’s no fuel like an old fuel” and these words definitely pertain to our favorite fuel—Wood.

Wood just seems to have more “soul” than many other fuels and it can be used in a tremendous variety of ways. Wood is truly a renewable fuel. The heat released from wood is actually stored solar energy—released from its bounds when consumed in a stove. Our country has vast resources of wood. Properly managed, these forests could provide large fuel wood supplies forever. In addition, the new EPA approved stoves burn wood cleaner and more efficiently than ever before. As older stoves are replaced with newer ones, any concerns about “wood smoke pollution” will quickly fade.

Types of Wood Burning Products

Wood Burning Stoves, Freestanding—New EPA approved clean burning stoves are now available in many styles, sizes and colors. These are perfect replacements for older stoves or to add heat and ambiance to any part of your home.

Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts—There are a wide selection of units which will fit into your existing fireplaces and turn it into a “heating machine.” Many Freestanding Stoves will also sit on an existing fireplace hearth and vent up the chimney.

Wood Burning Fireplaces—Two types are available. Zero Clearance wood burning fireplaces that make it easy to add a fireplace to your existing home. Prices for complete Zero Clearance fireplaces are very reasonable. There is also a new breed of fireplace—the so-called “Built-in-Stoves.” These are heavy-duty units which heat like a stove, but are built into a wall like a fireplace.

Wood Burning Central Heat—Some Hearth dealers carry Wood Burning and Multi-Fuel (Burn oil, gas, wood,coal—all in one unit) furnaces and boilers. This provides a good alternative for the serious woodburner who wants to keep all the mess in a basement or garage / outbuilding—and heat the house evenly through duct work or baseboard radiators....