Woodstoves have changed considerably over the years. Remember the old ornate potbelly stove with all the silver trim and intricate detailing? Maybe it was the center of attention in the local feed store, lumber yard, or maybe it was Grandpa and Granma’s pride and joy.
Unfortunately, that beautiful looking piece of machinery was a belching, polluting monster. In its time, it was an engineering marvel. But it probably pumped out about 30-60 grams per hour (gph) of particulate emissions (pollution), depending on how it was operated.
Pollution and its detrimental effect on the environment has become a big concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to regulate wood burning. They wanted cleaner, more efficient stoves. The wood heat industry met the challenge. They are now producing woodstoves that put out less than 4 to 7.5 grams per hour. Today’s woodstoves are much safer because of design, practical sizing, and system approach techniques.
Many stove now offer a technology that allows an almost complete burn which means a cleaner chimney, cleaner air, and more heat for your money. Not only have woodstoves become energy efficient, attractive appliances, but burning can actually be good for the environment.
Wood is a renewable fuel. When a tree grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and stores it in the wood as carbon. Carbon make up about half the weight of the wood. When the wood is burned, carbon dioxide is released again to the atmosphere. But the same amount of carbon dioxide would be released if the tree died and decomposed on the forest floor without the
Heat value of the wood if it had been burned.
So with the harvesting of dead trees and the replanting of new trees, we can have a perpetual source of fuel, provided that we continue to care for our forest and help our environment.
Purchasing A Woodstove
Consider this: Wood prices are stable and are unaffected by foreign dictators, freak accidents and national economic trends.
Wood is an abundant renewable resource which can be obtained locally. Burning wood reduces our dependence on foreign oil and helps alleviate our national trade deficit.
When shopping for a woodstove:
- Figure the square footage of the area you want to heat and talk with a stove dealer about a stove that will heat that area.
- Note the space configuration of the area to be heated. Is it fairly open? Or are there several walls and doorways? If the area isn’t relatively open, you may need to purchase some fans to help circulate the heated air.
- If there is an existing chimney, ask a professional chimney sweep if it is appropriately sized for the stove you are considering.
- If there is no existing chimney, ask your sweep how the installation of a pre-fab chimney will affect the structure of your home? Or will it change the character of your home?
- Will the heat output be satisfactory for you?
- Will the firebox accommodate the size of logs you will use?
Be sure to consider these and any other related factors when purchasing your woodstove and you’ll be satisfied with your choice.
Installation Of Woodstoves
Here are several factors which may affect the location of your woodstove installation:
- Features on your woodstove that might affect loading the woodstove and ash removal.
- Location of the stove so as not to interfere with the central heating thermostat.
- Possible modifications of the structure of the home or other modifications to accommodate installation.
- Possible difficulties in maintaining the stove and venting system. Consult your chimney sweep to determine the best location.
The Venting System
In order for a woodstove to function efficiently and safely, the stove must be installed correctly. The best guide to installing your stove is your stoves owners manual. You can also look for help from your local building code authority and your chimney sweep.
The chimney should be either a factory built, class A chimney or a properly constructed masonry chimney. If a factory built, class A chimney is used, it should be tested and listed by a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL).
If a masonry chimney is used, it should be properly constructed and built to code. Ask your sweep to inspect the chimney before your stove is installed. He will look for old “tin plate” hole covers, damaged or cracked flue tile, in addition to other unsafe situations. Many sweeps hae a video camera system to get a close up look at the inside of your flue.
The stovepipe should be in sound condition. Your sweep will clean and inspect it thoroughly for thin spots and deterioration.
There are many different types of stovepipe. There’s a heavy 22 gauge pipe that has welded seams. This is heavy duty and will last for quite some time. Threr is also a more economical, 24 gauge pipe available. Beware of lighter gauges of pipe. It is not heavy enough to pass code and you’ll have to replace it more often.