Buying a wood-burning stove might not seem like it, but it can be a stressful decision. It’s important to buy one that suits your needs.
That means it needs to be able to produce enough heat to warm up the room it’s in without being too overbearing. It needs to look good where you put it. It needs to be installed properly.
It also needs to have the appropriate permits, EPA certifications, and emissions tests. Plus you may need to check with your homeowner’s insurance to make sure it’s going to be covered.
Use our ultimate guide to help…well…guide you through finding the perfect wood stove for you and your family.
Catalytic wood-stoves have a combustor inside that is coated with precious metals, platinum, and palladium. The combustors are shaped like honeycombs.
The honeycomb combustors increase the speed of the chemical reaction (burning the wood gases) causing the temperature to increase.
I like to think of the catalytic element as a way to turbocharge the system.
If used correctly, the catalytic element will cause the smoke to burn as fuel and creates more heat from less wood.
That means you can burn slower, transforming the energy stored in a log to the room as heat, instead of outside as air pollution.
Pretty neat, right?
Catalytic stoves are not as popular as non-catalytic stoves, except for in high-end stoves.
They are also a bit more complicated to work, so they are suited more for people who like technology and are prepared to maintain the stove properly so that it will continue to operate at peak performance.
For example, all catalytic stoves have a lever-operated catalyst bypass damper that you open for starting and reloading. You’ll have to watch the temperature as you burn and move the handle once the temperature reaches 500 degrees F.
You need to do this to move the bypass so that the honeycomb catalyst can be accessed. Temperatures under 500 degrees are too low to allow the system to reburn so the catalyst is ineffective until it’s time to use it.
Usually, you can use your catalyst honeycomb for six or more burn seasons, but the durability is in the hands of the stove user. Eventually, the element will break down or will become clogged and you’ll need to replace it (usually costs somewhere between $200-$400).
If the stove is over-fired, inappropriate fuel is burned, or if you skip out on regular maintenance, then you’ll probably need to get a new catalyst every two years.
Non-catalytic stoves are a lot easier to deal with. They don’t use a catalyst (as the name hints at), but they do have three internal characteristics that will create a very good environment for complete combustion.
That’s firebox insulation; a large baffle to produce a longer, hotter gas flow path; and a preheated combustion air introduced through small holes above the fuel in the firebox.
These stoves use a reburn system called a baffle. The baffle sits inside the firebox just below the stove’s top.
The baffle pushes oxygen into the firebox to allow the fire to reburn before exiting up and out of the flue.
Non-catalytic stoves produce heat hotter and faster than a catalytic stove.
The maintenance is easier, but eventually the baffle and other internal parts will need to be replaced from time-to-time as they deteriorate with use. So it’s important to have these looked at every year by a certified professional.
If you can’t seem to choose between the two, you can also buy a hybrid model that will combine both technologies of the baffle reburn system and a catalytic combustor.
With cast iron stoves you’ll have a lot more options and styles because the cast iron is poured into molds. You’ll end up getting awesome designs and styles.
You’ll even have the option to have a porcelain gloss finish which will make your stove look beautiful and smooth.
Cast iron stoves can have just about any part that fails from heat stress replaced.
Steel stoves are pretty plain but cost less.
They are made of steel plates that are bent into the shape of a firebox, which gives them that plain, simple, and clean look.
Cast iron stoves used to have the edge because any part that failed from heat stress could be replaced. But now, even steel manufacturers can have highly-stressed internal parts replaced.
You should keep that in mind when shopping. Look if the parts can be replaced. Sometimes cheaper stoves are not designed for years of use and key parts are just welded in and cannot be replaced.
Soapstone stoves retain heat very well because it’s so dense.
We hear a lot of customers saying that this is the best stove because they tend to provide heat long after the fire has gone out due to the dense soapstone.
The biggest pain with soapstone stoves is that they are slow to heat up so there is a price to be paid for the heat that they store.
We’ve been able to replicate the same effect by building mass into the installation by way of a stone or brick wall covering and hearth pad.
I don’t recommend buying a stove just because it has soapstone. You should buy the stove that has all the other features you want.
If it has soapstone, that’s nice too.
British Thermal Units (BTUs)
Before we get too far into the thick of this section, I need to let you know about British Thermal Units (BTUs). This is an international energy measurement, not just for the Britons.
Basically, a BTU is the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water 1 degree F.
Sounds like an odd requirement, but knowing the amount of heat and energy is necessary to keep your home comfortable.
The easiest way to figure out the BTUs needed is to take a look at the square footage of the space you want to heat. In warmer climates multiply this number by 10-15. In moderate climates multiply it by 20-30. In colder climates multiply by 30-40.
For example, if you’re trying to heat 1000 square feet in a cold climate, you’re looking at 30,000 to 40,000 BTUs to warm the air in your home.
But to help you out, we’ve also put together this chart:
BTUs for 8 Foot Ceilings
12-ft Length 18-ft Length 24-ft Length 30-ft Length 36-ft Length 12-ft Width 5,1884 7,776 10,368 12,960 15,552 18-ft Width 7,776 11,664 15,552 19,440 23,328 24-ft Width 10,368 15,552 20,736 25,920 31,104 30-ft Width 12,960 19,440 25,920 32,400 38,880 36-ft Width 15,552 23,338 31,104 38,880 46,556
BTUs for 10 Foot Ceilings
12-ft Length 18-ft Length 24-ft Length 30-ft Length 36-ft Length 12-ft Width 6,480 9,720 12,960 16,200 19,400 18-ft Width 9,720 14,580 19,400 24,300 29,160 24-ft Width 12,960 19,440 25,920 32,400 38,800 30-ft Width 16,200 24,300 32,400 40,500 45,600 36-ft Width 19,440 29,160 38,880 48,600 58,320
These are basic estimates and the actual BTUs you’ll need depend on several other factors:
- Number of windows
- The climate
- Age of the building
- Orientation to the south
- Type of and amount of insulation
- Construction techniques
- And more
When you are calculating the BTUs you’ll need for your whole house, you need to include the worst-case scenario. Which means that you should account for the coldest that it will get.
For example, maybe the coldest it will ever get is -30 degrees F. And maybe that happens once every 3 years. You’ll want to make sure the BTUs you are accounting for considers that huge outlier.
Heat Output & Capacity
Most manufacturers list a maximum heat output in BTUs. For popular stoves, this falls in the 25,000 to 80,000 BTU range.
But the full output of the stove shouldn’t be used often because high firing can do more harm than good to the stove’s interior pieces. Plus, the average house only needs between 5,000 to 20,000 BTUs per hour of continuous heating power, depending on where you’re located.
Some manufacturers will use the heat output rate from EPA testing, which uses softwood fuel, whereas some other manufacturers will test using hardwood fuel, creating a much higher peak output.
All of this makes it very difficult to easily compare the heat output of stoves because the ratings can be misleading.
Luckily, manufacturers state how many square feet the unit will heat. But, just like with the BTUs, this number can be oddly misleading since they give very wide ranges.
For example, some will give a range like 800-3,000 square feet. What a massive range!
This is because of the variance in climate throughout the United States.
A particular stove might heat 2,000 square feet in South Carolina, but only 1,000 square feet in Wisconsin. Plus, an old house isn’t as efficient as newer houses and might have as much as twice the heat loss of a newer house in the same climate zone.
Not to mention that if your house is split into smaller rooms, you won’t be able to move the heat like you would if you had an open concept house.
Still, wood stoves only come in three sizes: small, medium, and large. The shape of the firebox affects its usable volume so there can be some exceptions.
Chimney Caps Designed to Increase Draft
Draft-increasing chimney caps are different from standard caps due to the way their tops (or caps) are constructed. Not how they are attached to your chimney.
So, you can just measure for these the same exact way you would for a standard cap.
A small stove will heat anywhere between 600-1,000 square feet. They have a firebox volume of less than 2 cubic feet. I like to think this is best suited for a large room or a small cabin.
A medium stove will heat between 800-2,000 square feet. They have a firebox volume of 2-3 cubic feet and are suitable for heating small- to medium-sized houses.
A large woodstove will heat between 800-3,000 square feet. They have a firebox volume greater than 3 cubic feet and are best suited for heating larger open plan or leaky houses.
When you have a fireplace insert, the woodstove is installed either partially or completely inside your fireplace. Often the front portion is the only part exposed.
But sometimes the design projects out enough to provide a surface to cook with.
When you have a hearth stove, they will usually be set on the hearth of the fireplace or on the floor in front with some type of floor protection.
The fireplace opening or throat is usually sealed with a metal plate and the stove vents through the plate with a length of stovepipe.
We’ve seen that many older installations simply have a sheet metal cover over the fireplace opening with a pipe venting into the firebox of the fireplace.
This type of installation is the least efficient installation for performance and should be changed as soon as possible. Not only is it inefficient, but it also poses the greatest risk for a chimney fire.
Free Standing Stoves
A freestanding stove is one that is installed in the room with all of its sides completely exposed and connected to a chimney built specifically for the stove. These stoves are versatile since they can be for a factory-built chimney or even a typical masonry chimney.
We usually recommend the freestanding stove whenever possible because they are the most efficient since they can radiate heat from all sides. Plus, the exposed connector pipe from the stove to the chimney will also radiate heat into the room.
And, when installed properly, the freestanding stoves are actually easier to maintain than either the inserts or hearth stoves.
Many of the stoves on the market can be installed with any of the three methods mentioned. If you already have a fireplace, you can call a chimney company to help install an insert or hearth stove without worrying about putting in a new chimney.
But using an insert or a hearth stove poses some serious drawbacks such as the potential for increased creosote deposits. A higher volume and glazed creosote deposits mean more frequent cleanings (often twice a year).
The original fireplace was designed to vent a large, fire with plenty of air reaching the fire. When you install either an insert or a hearth stove, you are changing the burning characteristics of your fireplace.
Instead of the hot, open fire like before, you will generally have a slow smoldering fire in the woodstove. And since the flue is usually much larger in a freestanding fireplace than in inserts, you’ll end up with colder flue gases and a higher rate of creosote build-up.
If you choose to use an insert or a hearth stove, you need to make sure that you are installing a properly sized chimney liner from the woodstove all the way up to the top of the chimney.
Proper cleaning of inserts and hearth stoves are a lot more involved than freestanding stoves since they require you to remove the stove to clean the pipes. This makes the cleaning process considerably more difficult and therefore more expensive.
Since it’s more difficult and more expensive, we’ve seen a lot of homeowners putting this service off, sometimes servicing once every couple of years instead of annually.
Accessories are there, primarily, to serve as a safety mechanism. All of these exist to improve safety first.
A grate is an extremely important accessory.
All fireplaces need one to burn properly. Your fireplace grate is a piece of metal, usually made of steel or cast iron, that helps hold the wood or gas logs above the floor of the firebox.
The grates increase air movement around the fire, allowing it to burn more efficiently.
When you buy a grate, you need to make sure that you are buying one that fits inside your firebox. But be careful not to buy one too big.
Most people buy a grate that is the largest one to fit inside the firebox. The problem with this is that if you pile too much wood on your fire, your fire won’t get the proper airflow required to maintain its heat.
You should get a grate that is about two-thirds the width of the fireplace and about half the depth for the best results.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you should make sure you have a screen. Just like I mentioned before with glass doors, screens help keep the embers from flying out into your living room.
It doesn’t take a huge ember to fly out and cause a catastrophic fire.
In fact, many home fires have started just by sparks flying out from a fireplace that has no screen.
Probe thermometers are for stovepipes. It has a probe that goes into the flue to provide an accurate measurement of flue gas temperature.
The thermometer should be placed into the stovepipe as far away from the stove as possible.
Ideal flue gas temperatures will be between 400-900 degrees Fahrenheit.
Surface Mount Thermometers
If you can’t use a probe thermometer, you can always use a surface mount thermometer. These are okay, but can only indicate 50% of the actual internal temperature.
Use your fireplace tongs to move burning logs to help you control the fire. The key to having good tongs is to also have a good grip. And if your fire is big enough, you need to make sure your tongs are long enough.
These are also known as fire pokers.
The purpose is to poke your fire and to shift wood so that more oxygen can reach the fire to help it burn better.
Just like the tongs, you need to make sure your poker is long enough to reach the wood with larger fires.
The primary purpose of the fireplace brush is to sweep the ashes back into the fireplace after they’ve blown out.
But, in addition to that, you can also use the brush to give your fireplace a nice cleaning. You can scoop the ashes out of the fireplace with a scoop or shovel, and then give the firebox a sweep through to clean the floor.
Bellows or a Blow Poke
A bellows and a blow poke both serve to give more oxygen to the fire. They help to bring a smoldering fire back to life.
A blow poke is the most effective way to stoke a fire after it has been burning for a while because it can allow you to inject a concentrated blast of fresh air into the fire through a long pipe and a small hole.
Fireplace Scoop or Shovel
A shovel is intended to control the ash layer inside your firebox. Excess ash can be scooped away so that enough air can reach the wood, allowing the wood to burn better.
The ashes serve as insulation against the cold floor of your fireplace. So be sure to keep a little bit of ashes on the floor.
When you’re scooping your ashes out of the fireplace, be sure to always scoop into a metal bucket. The metal won’t catch on fire. And it gives you a place to store your ashes after you are cleaning up.
You’ll want to have a metal bucket with a tight-fitting lid.
Be sure to dispose of the ashes very carefully because coals insulated in the ashes can stay hot for days. Do not dispose of your ashes and coals near your house. And be extra careful during windy days.
Learn more about ash disposal here: 25 Things to Do With Your Chimney Ashes
When you are operating your woodstove, you need to make sure you have a good pair of wood burners gloves.
If you’re not careful, you can easily wind up with some nasty burns without gloves.
Chimney Cleaning Kit
If you’re more into DIY solutions and you don’t want to hire a chimney cleaning company, you can get a set of fiberglass chimney rods and a fiberglass or wire brush and do it yourself.
Be careful and read up on best practices.
If you want to quickly clean out your firebox and are where the pipes connect to your woodstove, you should use a shop vacuum with a bag inside.
The bag is important, otherwise, you’ll have fine ashes covering the inside of your home.
You can get a non-electric fan to help circulate the heat throughout your home. A non-electric fan will help you do just that with increased efficiency, too!
I always like to recommend getting a kettle for your fireplace. Wood Stoves use up the air from inside your home and that air is replaced with air from outside.
There isn’t a lot of humidity during the colder months so that air from outside during the winter is dry air.
Dry air can crack your lips and skin, dry sinuses, and give a lot of other unpleasant experiences.
Use a kettle to boil water and add some moisture in the air, alleviating some dryness.
You need a place to store all that wood you’re going to be burning. Why not keep some of it inside so that you don’t have to go out in the cold at night?
When you want to buy a wood stove or give your woodstove a little boost in looks, you can easily add some of these.
But keep in mind that they also have a great advantage when it comes to functionality and safety.
Legs & Pedestals
Wood stoves can either be placed on a pedestal or can stand on legs. Some legs are adjustable. I prefer the kind with legs because that gives the advantage of cleaning under the stove easily. But it’s really up to you.
The most obvious reason to have glass doors is probably for aesthetics. Glass doors can do a lot for a bare firebox opening.
But as I mentioned before, they also help reduce the heat loss from your house, both during and after you burn a fire.
Plus, most of the glass doors that we see have some sort of wire mesh that will help keep embers from flying out of the fireplace.
If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll want to make sure the screen is closed when you are burning the wood.
If you don’t have a blower, you’ll need to leave the doors open to get the greatest amount of heat out of your fireplace.
The Shape of the Unit
You can choose several different kinds of shapes. Square, round, rectangular, and vertical.
The ash lip is something that catches the ashes from falling onto your floor when you open the front glass door.
Sometimes you’ll have an option to have a flat top that is designed so that you can cook on them.
Some other stoves have removable burners.
If you have an opinion on how you want to see the logs burning, then you need to consider the firebox orientation. When taking a look at wood stoves, make a note of how logs are intended to be situated. But there’s a lot more to it than that.
If your wood stove has an east-to-west loading orientation, then your firebox is wider than it is long. So you’ll be looking at the sides of the logs.
This is a more traditional orientation. But you can only use about half the firebox volume because if you use too much, the logs can fall against the glass door.
If your wood stove has a north-to-south orientation this means your firebox is deeper than it is wide so you will be looking at the ends of your logs. You can place more logs and use the full firebox volume and the logs can’t fall forward.
This way you will have more heating capacity than an east-to-west oriented stove of the same firebox orientation.
The issue with firebox orientation may not be something that seems like a big deal at first. But it’s probably more important to your long-term satisfaction with the stove than most of the other factors when considering a wood stove.
East-to-west loading stoves can be used in mild weather to give an extended and clean-burning fire because the wood breaks down slower. Whereas north-to-south loading is good in very cold weather because you can use the full firebox volume to burn more intensely for a longer period.
When you’re buying a wood stove, you need to take into consideration all of the functionality that your wood stove can offer.
You’ll need to think of how much wood it can hold, what kinds of warranty you’ll get, etc.
Wood stoves vary in size and therefore vary in the length of wood that you can use. You shouldn’t be misled into thinking that just because a stove can handle 20-inch firewood it’s really bigger or better than one that can take up to 18-inch logs.
Actually, the standard firewood length for stoves is only 16 inches. This is primarily because 16 inches is the practical length for handling.
In addition to handling considerations, your firebox should be about three inches bigger than your average piece of firewood.
A blower is also known as a fireplace fan. They help bring heat into your home that would normally be lost up in the chimney. All they do is circulate the air in the firebox and send it out into the room without any smoke.
Blowers are designed to improve the overall efficiency of your fireplace and supplement your home’s heating system.
If you have a blower system in your fireplace, you may want to operate the fireplace with your glass doors closed. This will prevent any room air from blowing up the chimney, helping to keep the room warm for a longer period.
Before you close the glass doors, please make sure the manufacturer of the door recommends this. Some glass doors cannot withstand the high heat produced.
Your heat register is usually placed on the bottom section of your inside pipe. It needs to have electricity and blows heat to circulate it.
You really need an ash drawer or an ash dump. They will make your life so much easier when you’re cleaning out the ashes. Also known as an ash pit, it is an opening at the bottom of your fireplace, where ashes can be dumped.
Firebrick is a brick that is made of clay and silica. It’s designed to withstand high temperatures in your firebox.
This is basically a lining inside the stove so that your stove radiates heat after the wood is burned.
Just like with cars, warranties vary greatly between stoves. When you are looking at the different stoves, you should look at the product overview on the model you are considering for specific details.
Many wood stoves even come with a lifetime warranty.
The airwash is a system that helps keep the glass clean, allowing you to have a clean look into your stove.
You’ll need to also make sure that you have the accessories around to help keep everyone safe. That means smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and, of course, carbon monoxide detectors.
Your home should have at least one smoke detector. And it should be strategically placed near your bedroom or where you sleep.
And if you have multiple places where people sleep, you should be sure to have one in each of the rooms.
Multi-story homes need to have one on every floor.
Here are a few tips for your smoke detector:
- Test each month with a candle. You can even press the button to test.
- If your detector is battery powered, keep spare batteries on hand and replace promptly when needed
- Replace the smoke detector promptly when it’s defective
You should also create a fire escape plan. Check out our guide here
All you need are two 5 pound ABC type fire extinguishers. It’s always a good idea to have one near your fireplace, but also in your kitchen.
The fire extinguisher should be visible so you won’t have any trouble when you’re trying to find it.
Be sure to check the extinguishers you have now to be sure they have adequate pressure. Most will lose their pressure over time and you’ll need to recharge or replace them after a while.
Tip: if your fire extinguisher is showing low pressure, use it for a fire drill. Have everyone in your family participate and teach them how to use the fire extinguisher.
Chimney Fire Extinguisher
You should also be aware of a special fire extinguisher that is specifically designed to put out a fire in the chimney. This extinguisher emits a dense smoke that is drawn up the chimney, basically suffocating the fire.
If you have a severe chimney fire, you’ll probably want to take care of that with more than one fire extinguisher.
Hearth pads are often made of ceramic tile, stone tile, or cement board. Ember protection and thermal protection are the two elements you need to consider when building your hearth.
Ember protection is simply the protection provided by any non-combustible material. It protects your floor in case embers fall out of your wood stove while loading firewood.
Thermal protection is the protection provided by insulated R-value materials. Each material is given its own R-value.
The greater the R-value the better resistance to heat it has which makes it a better thermal insulator for building your hearth.
Inside Pipe Including Clean Out Tee
These come in single, double, and triple-walled pipes. We usually recommend that you use a single-walled pipe that attaches your stove to your ceiling.
And then use a double or triple walled pipe through the ceiling or roof as an extra safety precaution against fires.
We have a lot of customers request that we paint the stove pipe different colors to match the decor in their home.
If you want to do it yourself, prime the pipe with a high-temperature primer and then use high-temperature black spray paint.
This is the part that you will see sticking out of your ceiling. The support box supports the chimney as it goes through the ceiling toward the roof.
You can buy an adapter for the support box to fit the pipe if you purchase from different manufacturers and they don’t perfectly match up.
This is for the trim for your support box. We use the trim kit after cutting the hole in the ceiling to give the support box a better look.
These are sold in two pieces so that if you have a vaulted ceiling you can easily adjust and mount at an angle.
Your woodstove needs to sit on something like a hearth pad, tile, or something that won’t catch on fire when exposed to high heat.
Stainless Steel Exterior Pipes
Just as the name suggests, these exterior pipes are the ones that go through your ceiling, through your attic, and eventually up and out of your roof.
They connect with a twist-locking mechanism and come in sections of 1-4 feet.
Roof Flashing Kits
The flashing connects your roof to the exterior pipe to help seal and keep moisture from getting into your house. They are sold based on the pitch of your roof and made of either aluminum or galvanized steel.
You should cover the flashing with Flash Seal, which will provide a better sealant to the chimney stack.
This mounts around the stove pipe just above the flashing and provides added weather protection and is then sealed with silicone.
High Heat Silicone
You only need a little bit, so no need to go buy a whole bunch. Less than 3 ounces usually does the trick. You’ll use this on your storm collar.
The support brackets should be used if your chimney is going to stick out a far distance and your area is more susceptible to wind and snow. They clamp around the pipe and connect to the roof for added strength.
A rain cap goes on top of the chimney and helps keep rain from going inside your chimney. It also keeps debris and animals from going down too.
Plus, it will help keep the chimney from downdrafting (wind coming back down the chimney) and it will keep embers from flying out and into your yard or on your roof.
If you want to learn more about buying a rain cap, check out our Buying Guide for Chimney Caps.
Depending on where you’re located, you may need to consult with your local zoning board or building department (or whoever is in charge of permits for you) and make sure you get the right permits.
If you’re not planning on doing the work yourself, you’ll need to figure installation costs in your budget.
Costs can vary depending on where you are, who you hire, etc. There are also a lot of other variables to consider, such as how tall the ceiling needs to be, the liner size that needs to fit the woodstove you have, and a lot more.
EPA Ordinances & Certifications
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates emissions and helps to ensure a cleaner-burning stove. Since 1988, the EPA began setting regulations that apply to the selling and manufacturing of all new wood stoves.
The EPA set a mandatory smoke emission limit for catalytic stoves of 4.1 grams of smoke per hour and for non-catalytic stoves of 7.5 grams of smoke per hour. Older stoves release 15-30 grams of smoke per hour!
If you are looking at installing a new wood stove, you’ll need to make sure that it is either EPA certified or that your local regulations are okay with you installing a non-EPA certified wood stove. You can find the EPA certification label on the back of the stove.
You want to be aware of the emissions because some states offer tax breaks if you are replacing your uncertified wood stove with a new certified one.
Getting a certified one will benefit you in the long run anyway because they’ll allow the wood to burn a lot more efficiently, leading to better performance and less creosote build-up.
Wood Stove Testing
One more thing about emissions: when you are purchasing a new wood stove, be sure to discuss safety and emissions testing with the dealer to make sure the stove you are considering has the required approvals.
Wood stoves currently sold are required to go through two types of testing: safety and emissions.
Safety testing is performed by agencies like the Underwriters Laboratories to determine if the stoves are safe when installed and operated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Emissions testing is required by the EPA to determine if the stoves can achieve an acceptable level of emissions.
Sometimes homeowner’s insurance can be cheaper if you have a second source of heat. But sometimes it will be more expensive if your insurance company doesn’t like that you have a wood-burning stove.
Before you install a stove yourself, be sure to check if your homeowner’s insurance requires you to install it professionally. They may also require you to have it professionally inspected.
Protecting Children & Animals
Your new wood stove will be hot to the touch when you’re burning in them. They’re nice to have, but that hot wood stove can make anyone with kids and pets nervous.
Not only can the fire inside be a hazard if you’re not careful, but the exterior can burn the skin, embers can fly out, and gases that aren’t exhausting properly can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
The two big things you can do to make your woodstove safe for your kids and pets are to add a barrier and babyproof the hearth.
How to Hire, What to Look For
When you’re hiring a chimney company, you should always ask the following questions before allowing them to come into your home:
- Can the company provide references?
- Does the company carry a valid business liability insurance policy?
- Does the company ensure that a certified chimney technician will be on the job?
If they guarantee all three of those, then you are in a good spot. The technicians don’t necessarily need to be certified by the CSIA, but I do recommend putting in a bit more due diligence before accepting a certification that’s not by the CSIA.
This is because certifications are a tricky thing, especially in an unlicensed industry like ours. Any company can craft a list of job-related questions and sell them as an exam and certify those who pass.
I recommend you take a few extra minutes in your research before making your hiring decision to learn more about the certification the company has. Here are a few tips to make sure the certification is reputable:
- Is the word “certified” just part of the business name or is it an earned designation?
- Is the certifying body a for-profit business or non-profit?
- Does the certification need to be maintained and renewed through continuing education as the industry evolves, or is it well enough to be certified through a one-time exam?
- Is the certifying body well-established or are they relatively new to the scene? New doesn’t mean “bad” but you should make sure the requirements for certification are more or at least equally stringent as those of more established certifications
- Is the mission statement of the certifying body focused on educating and protecting homeowners or is it more focused on making it easier to earn a certification?
- Does holding the certification require following a code of ethics?
If you can answer all of these questions, then I think it will be safe to allow the company in your home to work on your chimney.
Please note that If you are hiring a chimney company to install a wood stove for you, most of the time, they will need to buy the stove themselves. This is primarily for liability and insurance purposes.
Besides, it’s probably cheaper for them to buy a stove at the dealer discount than for you to buy one at retail cost.
It doesn’t matter if you are in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Blacksburg, or some other city anywhere in the USA — if you have any questions about the safety of hiring a chimney company, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 540-225-2626. I’m happy to help!