It was a typical Thursday night, lying in bed trolling YouTube for some cool DIY videos when my pager goes off. The dispatcherâ€™s voice follows the alert tone and proceeds to state that there is a structure fire, another chimney was on fire. I grab my coat and screech out of my driveway headed for the fire station. As I arrive on the scene, family members are standing out in the cold wearing nothing but bathrobes and pajamas.
All too often I see families displaced in the middle of winter due to fires caused by faulty installed wood burning stoves. Even minimal damage renders a home unlivable due to smoke and water damage. The money saved by short cutting installation is soon diminished as the cost of property damage comes in to affect.
Statistics from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) indicate that an estimated 26,000 fires are caused annually due to fireplaces and chimneys. These result in property losses amounting to over $120 million and at least 10 deaths every year.
The problem I see is often the same, someone finds a great deal on a used stove so they immediately assume they can just add some single wall stove pipe to complete the job. Unfortunately this is not the case. Properly installing a wood stove requires nonnegotiable clearances from combustible materials as well as the proper chimney materials.
Wood will ignite between 4-500 F and in some cases at a lower temperature if the time of exposure is long enough. Unfortunately, standard drywall does not offer much protection from the heat. Interior and exterior studs will burn if exposed to heat from a wood stove.
Here are a few tips that I can offer:
- Make sure that the stove is UL Listed.
- Follow Manufactures guidelines for installation.
- If installation calls for triple wall chimney pipe, donâ€™t skimp on double or single wall.
- Donâ€™t be afraid to call your local fire marshal and ask for advice.
- Do your homework and price out the material you need before you start.