Wood stove placement in great room

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IndoorSunshine

New Member
Jul 23, 2022
13
Culpeper, VA
Hello, I'm new to this forum and to wood stoves. I have a new construction in central VA that is nearing its final phases (for the most part, the big things remaining to be done in the interior are finishing up the HVAC installation, and installing wood floors and ceiling fans). I had planned to add a wood stove after moving in at some point, but after doing research, I decided to bite the bullet and get one put in beforehand, to simplify the installation and so we can start using it this winter.

So I just placed an order for a charcoal-grey-colored Woodstock Absolute wood stove (https://www.woodstove.com/absolute-steel-hybrid-wood-stove), which is rated to heat up to 1,800 sq ft. The one that was available has a door on the right, which may not be ideal in our configuration, but I figured I can make it work, and it would be better than waiting and being put on a production schedule for next year.

The house is about 1,500 sq feet, on one level, with unfinished basement. The stove will go in the great room, and I intend for it to be the main/only source of heat, to run all winter (no shortage of wood). I've attached the floorplan, which also shows where the ceiling fans will be installed. My dilemma is where to place the stove. The floor plans were drawn up with the idea that a wood stove would eventually go against the exterior back wall (to the right of the double windows), between the dining area and the living area. It was also assumed at that time that an L-shaped sectional couch (to be purchased) would be against the exterior wall and stairwell wall, in the corner of the living room, with a coffee table in front of it. (We don't own a TV, so there's no screen to make a focal point of room. I have a nice-sized computer monitor I can place on the coffee table and hook up to my laptop computer, if/when we feel like watch something online.)

When the floorplans were drawn up, though, I didn't realize that some wood stoves come with windows, through which you can watch the fire. Having the stove facing perpendicular to the couch's L corner, which is where I anticipated sitting most of the time I'm in there, so I can put my legs up on the couch too, seems like such a wasted opportunity to enjoy looking at the fire. Also, there would be about six feet between edge of couch and dining room window. Given stove width of 33" and log-loading door on right, the stove would have to be placed pretty close to the dining room window in order to have the necessary open space on the right of it. So I'm wondering how to rethink the placement, and am wondering if anyone on here might be able to offer any suggestions based on experience, taking into account both practicalities and aesthetics.

Option 1A that occurred to me is to move the stove further to the right along the back wall, and rotate the couch 90 degrees to the right. The downside is that that feels like it could be bad "feng shui," with people's backs to the front door if they're sitting on the couch section that's facing the fire. So then Option 1B could be scrapping the sectional couch idea, and instead putting a single couch against the stairwell wall, and maybe a couple of armchairs opposite the couch. All the seating would be at an angle to the fire then, so you would have to turn to look at it.

Option 2, which seems like maybe the better one, would be to move the stove away from the back wall, between the ceiling fan and the back wall, and orient the stove so it faces toward the couch on the right, with its back to the dining table. I could add heat shields to the back and sides, in the same color as the stove, which would make the back and sides look a little more attractive. One possible issue in that scenario might be that the people in the dining chairs closest to the stove might get too warm (but that may not be a big deal at all, because of the heat shield, and because we could leave those seats empty unless there's company over, and then just not have the fire on high ... also I read that stoves with soapstone don't get as uncomfortably hot to be near). Another possible issue is that it might end up having to be put quite close to the ceiling fan in order to allow enough room between the stove and the couch; not sure if this would look odd or create any issues. The ceiling fan hasn't been installed yet, so in theory it could be moved over, though the current location for it is nicely centered in that area, so would prefer not to move it. The ceiling fan is 60" across and looks roughly like this one: https://quoruminternational.com/cat...quotes_-satin-nickel-transitional-ceiling-fan (with reversible rosewood and walnut blades).

We will also need to use an outside air kit. If the stove is not against the exterior wall, I think it can be run under the floor, because the basement ceiling is unfinished, though it might require some extra work that way.

So basically what I'm wondering is:
-- Do any of the options I've outlined above strike people as better than the others? Aesthetically and/or practically. Or maybe there is another better option that hadn't occurred to me?
-- Would a stove close to a ceiling fan look odd/crowded? How close to the blades would seem "too" close?
-- If we go with Option 2, I think we might end up having to load the logs from the back of the stove, because depending on exactly where the ceiling joists are, and where the stove and chimney could be placed, there might not be enough space to stand in front and to the right of the stove to load logs, because of the couch edge. Would this be in any way impractical?
-- I don't see a minimum recommended clearance listed in the installation manual for the front of the stove, except for how far the non-combustible floor must extend. How close do people feel comfortable sitting to a stove window? And how close can furniture be without the furniture drying out too much and/or deteriorating in some other way (aiming to get a leather couch).

Thank you in advance for any guidance anyone can provide.

Electrical diagram page of floorplan.png
 
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In general you want three feet of clearance between the surface of the stove and combustible things like couches. I haven't read your manual, but clearance to combustibles is not going to be less than three feet.

Practically, stove placement in your great room is not going to matter much. Once you have the BTUs outside the stove and inside the insulation envelope, you got ceiling fans.

I would probably put it in the top right corner near the basement stairs, my wife would probably want it between the kitchen counter and the large window or sliding glass door.

If you get a lot of snow the bottom left corner of the great room, as pictured, would be my choice to put the chimney as near the roof peak as possible so I would have less snow weight trying to knock the chimney over.

Good luck and best wishes.
 
This winter will be problematic for heating exclusively with wood. Purchased wood will most likely not be dry enough. This can leave you with a frustrating experience. You’ll be fighting wood that doesn’t want to stay lit, chimneys that don’t want to stay clean, and Smokey fires that leave the glass black.

Depending on the species, wood needs multiple years drying to get down below 20% moisture. This means you need multiple years of wood put up. If you buy it and stack it now, figuring 3 cords a year since you’re southern, you’ll need at least 6 cords of wood.

My advice would be to move in and buy your wood. Figure out were to put your stove once you figure out your patterns there. It’d be horrible to put it in one place and then wish it was over on that side of the room the rest of the time you owned the house.
 
If I had to choose a spot now, I’d put it in the corner of the room to the left of the spot marked 2x4 empty gang box for Ethernet.
 
Thank you so much for the feedback; that was very helpful. It had not occurred to me that the stairwell wall would be an option. I'm still inclined to go ahead and get it installed now, especially given the way costs for everything have been going up. There appear to be several local businesses that sell "seasoned wood," so hopefully I can get some that's dry enough to use this winter w/o problems. Snow isn't a big concern for the chimney, as it rarely snows more than a few inches.

I played around with the new suggestions, and I *think* this placement against the stairwell wall may be our best option and could work acceptably well in all regards (sketch attached). In this scenario, we would probably place the computer monitor (as mentioned previously, it would just be brought in for watching online shows occasionally) in the back corner of room, on the thing marked "table/shelf". That table/shelf is 16 inches from the stove's side, which is considered a safe distance away if there is a heat shield, per the installation manual.

Right now I have the stove pictured 13 inches from the wall. A distance of 8.5 inches is acceptable with heat shield according to the manual, but I don't know where the joists/rafters above it are, so I built in some buffer in the diagram. It's possible it might need to be moved up to 8 inches further away from the wall than it's pictured, in the worst case, but if that distance gets unwieldy, maybe we could use some sloped/cornered pipes to get around joists/rafters?

The outside air vent will also have to be figured out, because it would have to travel under the floor in this location, most likely. Not sure how that works. I'm guessing either a hole has to be drilled in the non-combustible floor platform immediately behind the stove for the vent to pass through, or maybe a curved duct can be used, that goes through a hole in the wood floor instead, either behind or to the side of the non-combustible platform? Or maybe it wouldn't be too unsightly to run a duct along the top of the floor and vent it to the outdoors on this level, if it's covered up or otherwise made to blend in?
 

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  • Sketch of great room with stove v2.pdf
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Don't trust a wood seller's statement that the wood is seasoned. There are too many different interpretations of that word. Some wood like oak and hickory take at least 2 yrs after being split to fully season. The only way to know for sure is to test the wood before buying, or buy it green and season it yourself. Get a moisture meter and take a few thick pieces of the firewood and split them in half. Then press the probes firmly into the center of the freshly exposed face of the wood. A reading below 20% moisture content is considered seasoned. Test a few splits this way, especially if the load is mixed species.
 
Often it's seasoned "on the truck to your house"...

How were you going to do the outside air kit from that location?
 
How much pitch is there on your roof? The federal guideline is the chimney must extend at least 3 feet above the roof where it penetrates, and the top of the chimney must also be at least 2 feet above any other thing within ten (10) horizontal feet of the chimney top. I think of it as 3-2-1-0 but really it is 3-2-10.

Anyway, if you got a steep roof you might end up with a lot of pipe up top and some stabilizing brackets - another reason to put the stove near but not exactly under the peak of your roof.

What about where the little box with the number 3 in it? Looks like inside the front door, not blocking the window to the front porch, and will likely get your chimney near the top of the roof. Scooted over to the left in the drawing, to the other side of the window, looks like would be right next to your fridge, so those two would be locked in an eternal struggle.

Does your roof peak run L-R across the floor plan?
 
Often it's seasoned "on the truck to your house"...

How were you going to do the outside air kit from that location?
Don't trust a wood seller's statement that the wood is seasoned. There are too many different interpretations of that word. Some wood like oak and hickory take at least 2 yrs after being split to fully season. The only way to know for sure is to test the wood before buying, or buy it green and season it yourself. Get a moisture meter and take a few thick pieces of the firewood and split them in half. Then press the probes firmly into the center of the freshly exposed face of the wood. A reading below 20% moisture content is considered seasoned. Test a few splits this way, especially if the load is mixed species.
Good to know about testing the seasoning, thanks.

For outside air kit, I figured the less complicated option, versus sending it down through the floor and across below floor level, would be to just run it along the floor and out in the corner of the room. I'm now thinking it would be nice to have a 12" high platform under the stove, so the fire can be seen while seated at the dining table, so it could go down into the platform, along the floor under the platform, then under a console table between stove platform and wall. I think I could find ways to make it not that visible.

(Sorry for replying to both of you at once. I'm still learning this platform, and couldn't work out how to delete this and reply individually.)
 
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I initially thought of placing it in the corner just above the proposed location, which would make the OAK easy, but I had concern about the chimney outside being too tall due to the slope of the roof. Maybe compromise and set the stove in the middle of that wall? You could build a raised hearth that continues to the outside wall under which the outside air pipe would be located. It could have a wood storage area to the left of the stove.
 
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How much pitch is there on your roof? The federal guideline is the chimney must extend at least 3 feet above the roof where it penetrates, and the top of the chimney must also be at least 2 feet above any other thing within ten (10) horizontal feet of the chimney top. I think of it as 3-2-1-0 but really it is 3-2-10.

Anyway, if you got a steep roof you might end up with a lot of pipe up top and some stabilizing brackets - another reason to put the stove near but not exactly under the peak of your roof.

What about where the little box with the number 3 in it? Looks like inside the front door, not blocking the window to the front porch, and will likely get your chimney near the top of the roof. Scooted over to the left in the drawing, to the other side of the window, looks like would be right next to your fridge, so those two would be locked in an eternal struggle.

Does your roof peak run L-R across the floor plan?
The pitch on the roof is 7 up for every 12 across. And yes, the roof peak does run L-R across the middle of the floor plan, right above the wall of the study. So in the latest configuration, the stove pipe would be coming up out of the roof roughly half-way down the back side of the roof.

By the front door is an interesting idea that also had not occurred to me. Looking at the diagram of the front of the house, though, I think a chimney that meets the height guidelines would end up looking unattractive among the gables. Thanks though for the suggestion.
 
I initially thought of placing it in the corner just above the proposed location, which would make the OAK easy, but I had concern about the chimney outside being too tall due to the slope of the roof. Maybe compromise and set the stove in the middle of that wall? You could build a raised hearth that continues to the outside wall under which the outside air pipe would be located. It could have a wood storage area to the left of the stove.
Oh, a raised hearth continuing to the wall would certainly hide the outside air duct, what a great idea. Though I wonder if those ducts ever have problems requiring repair or replacement ... it might be difficult to every access it for repairs if it's inside a hearth platform. Hmm.
 
Oh, a raised hearth continuing to the wall would certainly hide the outside air duct, what a great idea. Though I wonder if those ducts ever have problems requiring repair or replacement ... it might be difficult to every access it for repairs if it's inside a hearth platform. Hmm.
The ducting can be 4" galvanized pipe, screwed or pop-riveted together. It is usually a zero-maintenance item as long as the intake is screened to keep out vermin. If it ever needs cleaning, this could be done with a dryer lint brush.
 
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Yes, and a raised hearth allows the outside air to terminate at an elevation lower than the stove, which is good.
 
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7/12 pitch is not steep. The above the roof pipe would not be excessive. It’s still within unassisted walking pitch.
 
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