A wood-burning stove is a great way to heat a room without increasing your energy bill or using petroleum. Wood stoves provide a cozy fire from a renewable, inexpensive energy source, making them the perfect choice for the thrifty or environmentally-conscious family. For the purposes of safety, when installing a stove, be sure to observe local building and installation requirements. The instructions in this article are generalized and thus may not pertain to your unique situation. See Step 1 below to get started!

Part 1
Part 1 of 2:

Picking Out a Stove and Preparing for Installation

  1. You don't want to have to make the decision of where to put your stove as you are wheeling the 500-lb iron behemoth around on a dolly. Designate a site in your house for your stove well in advance of when you plan to buy it. Since stoves are space heaters, generally, you'll want the stove on the first floor of your house where you spend most of your time so that it can warm you effectively throughout the day. To further maximize the efficiency of your wood stove, try to pick a spot in a room with especially good insulation so that the heat from the stove is not lost through the walls or windows.
    • Keep in mind that every wood stove requires a chimney. Take this into account when choosing a spot for your stove. If you plan for your chimney to extend straight up through the roof, for instance, you may not want to pick a spot for your stove that's directly under one of your second floor's main support beams.
  2. Wood stoves can get very, very hot during use. Radiating heat from the stove can pose a hazard to nearby walls and furniture, so wood stoves generally have a specified clearance - a minimum safe distance between the stove and nearby floors and walls. Your stove clearance can depend on where you live, whether your residence's floors and walls are combustible, and the type and size of wood stove you have. If in doubt about your stove's clearance rating, contact your stove's manufacturer. This applies only if your stove is UL or CSA listed - please check the label. If not you may still be able to install it. Check if your locality allows non-listed solid-fuel appliances (this is what wood stoves are officially called). If yes then check next with your insurance company. If all is good you can install your unlisted stove according to NFPA211. This will specify all clearances.
  3. As you shop for wood stoves, be sure to check that any stove you're considering buying is properly certified as meeting criteria for safety and environmental friendliness. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certifies wood stoves as meeting certain emissions standards. The EPA regularly publishes exhaustive lists of certified wood stoves, but certified stoves should also be labeled with both a temporary paper label and a permanent metal label.
  4. Generally, the larger a wood stove is, the hotter it can become when it's full of burning wood. Thus, small rooms can become uncomfortably warm from the heat provided by an especially large wood stove. Most wood stove manufacturers list their stoves' maximum heat output per hour in British Thermal Units (BTU) - most popular stoves fall between 25,000 to 80,000 BTU. The average medium-sized house requires only about 5,000 to 25,000 BTU - in other words, the maximum output of a small stove or less - even during winter.[1] However, your home's heating needs may differ based on your climate and the size of your house, so, if you have any questions, contact your manufacturer.
    • Burning your wood stove at its maximum capacity for long periods of time can damage the stove, so you may want to opt for a stove that's slightly larger than what you'll typically need so that you can use it at sub-maximum capacity most of the time.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 2:

Installing Your New Stove

  1. Like many building projects, installing a wood stove may require permission from your local government to ensure that you comply with safety regulations. However, rules will vary from town to town, so, before you buy a stove or start modifying your house, get in touch with the building or planning department of your city or town's government to get a sense of what is and isn't legal. If you need to get a building permit to install your stove, the officials in this department should be able to help you get one.
    • You may also want to call your local fire marshal, as, in some jurisdictions, installing a wood stove requires an inspection to approve the validity of the installation.
    • Finally, you may also want to contact the issuer of your homeowner's insurance, as installing a wood stove may change your liability.
  2. Lay a non-combustible floor pad in the spot where your stove will be.This pad, made of brick, ceramic tile, concrete or another noncombustible substance, should be flush with your home's existing flooring. Floor pads are essential for safe wood stove operation, as they ensure that any stray sparks or embers that fall from the stove will only come into contact with the pad, not the floor, reducing the risk of fire. Floor pads are especially crucial in the case of houses with wood or carpet floors directly adjacent to the stove.
    • Certain laws dictate the use of floor pads - in the United States and Canada, the floor pad must stretch at least 18 inches (45 cm) in front of the stove door and 8 inches (20 cm) from the other sides.
  3. Installing heat shielding on the walls around the site of your stove can further reduce the risk of damage or fire. Heat shields are often made of sheet metal, which is relatively simple to lay over existing walls. Check your local building codes to find out whether any special permission is needed to mount the shield as well as any other related clearance requirements.
    • Note that the installation of a heat shield can reduce the clearance requirements of your stove.
  4. If you haven't hired professional movers to help you get your stove into position, you'll need to move it yourself. Wood stoves are made from metal and can be incredibly heavy, so be sure to take any and all measures necessary to protect yourself as you move the stove. A sturdy dolly or hand truck that's rated above the weight of your stove is a great way to get the stove to its position without hurting yourself.
    • Minor adjustments to the stove's positioning at the site of installation may need to be done by hand, in which case you should enlist the help of a friend or family member so that you don't have to bear the full weight of the stove yourself. You may also want to try rolling the stove into position on lengths of sturdy PVC pipe.
  5. A well-functioning chimney is absolutely crucial for getting the most out of your wood stove. Your chimney should carry smoke and sediment safely outside your house - a poorly-installed chimney may not effectively remove the smoke, leaving your living room a gloomy, smokey mess. Chimneys can be an existing part of the house's construction or can be installed along with the stove, but in either case, the chimney must be well insulated and made of a non-combustible material. New chimneys installed for wood stoves are often made of a special kind of insulated stainless steel piping.
    • You may need to use a length of stovepipe to connect your wood stove to the chimney. This is fine, but remember that stovepipe is relatively thin and poorly-insulated, so by no means can stovepipe be used as a substitute for an actual insulated chimney.
    • Generally, the taller and straighter a chimney is, the better. The greater distance that smoke must travel horizontally (through curved sections of stovepipe, for instance), the less effective the chimney will be at removing smoke from the stove.
  6. Installed properly, wood stoves can be a tremendous boon for your house, but installed improperly, they can be a hassle and even a serious danger. If you encounter any problems while installing your wood stove or you are unsure of how to proceed safely, enlist the help of a professional. Similarly, if, after installation, you have even the slightest doubts about the safety of your stove, schedule an inspection with an expert. The safety of your home and family is well worth the minor expense of hiring outside help.
    • The National Fireplace Institute (NFI) is an agency that certifies fireplace and furnace experts. If you have any doubts about who to contact to install and/or inspect your new wood fireplace, search for an NFI-certified expert in your area on the NFI website.
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Community Q&A

  • Question
    Is it safe to purchase a secondhand wood stove without a manufacturer's manual for installation/troubleshooting guidelines?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Yes, but you can obtain a copy of the manual by contacting the manufacturer online. (Most stoves will either have a name on them or a metal plate somewhere with its information.) They should be able to provide you with a copy of the manual.
  • Question
    Why are the tiles around the stove lifting off the wall ?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    It might be due to heat. Make sure that aside from using high-temperature tolerant tiles, you're also using high-temperature cement to fix them near the stove. Normal cement usually cracks and crumbles due to heat.
  • Question
    What is the minimum distance the stove should be away from a wall?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    Every stove is different, check in your owner's manual or on the tag on the back of your wood stove. In the US, however, NFPA 211 requires at least 36 inches of clearance from combustible materials to the side or rear of a wood stove, unless something less is specified in the owner's manual or there is an engineered "shield" on the walls.


  • Do not let a fire smolder in your stove.
  • You must have a chimney for each wood stove you install.
  • Never burn logs that have been painted, treated with chemicals, or made for open fireplaces in your stove. Logs for fireplaces have compressed sawdust and wax in them.
  • Do not keep wood for the stove, chemicals, or flammable items within the stove's clearance area.
  • Be careful not to create a larger fire than necessary in your stove. "Overfiring" a stove adds up in costs on wood fuel and energy. It can also weaken your stove's parts, leading to extra maintenance expenses.
  • Never use fire-starting chemicals such as lighter fluid or kerosene to make a fire in your stove.

Things You'll Need

  • Stove clearance
  • Certified wood-burning stove
  • Local codes and requirements for stove
  • Floor pad
  • Wall heat shield
  • Certified professional installer
  • Stovepipe
  • Chimney
  • Ventilation system

About This Article

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 12 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 568,074 times.
191 votes - 76%
Co-authors: 12
Updated: September 15, 2021
Views: 568,074
Article SummaryX

Before you install a wood stove, check the clearance rating on the model you've chosen so you know how far away from walls and furniture it has to be for safety reasons. Then, choose a suitable place in your house based on the clearance information. Once you've found a spot, lay a non-combustible floor covering on the area, such as ceramic or concrete. Next, install heat shields made out of sheet metal on any walls close to your stove to reduce the fire risk. Finally, move your stove into place and fit a chimney if required. To find out why it could be worth hiring a professional contractor to install or inspect your stove, keep reading!

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