Retrofitting a Fireplace with a Woodstove

Below is a short excerpt on retrofitting a fireplace with a woodstove. It was taken from the pages of the magnificent Storey’s Basic County Skills, a complete guide to practical skills for living rurally and being self-reliant.

“Because the venting requirements for a wood stove are different than for a fireplace you need to retrofit a stainless steel chimney liner. A liner provides the draft necessary to ensure that the stove will operate safely and efficiently. First you should determine that the flue does not vent any other appliances (like the furnace or another fireplace). Next, try a fire in the fireplace. Smoke should not spill out into the room if you’ve used enough dry kindling and a couple of twisted up newspapers. If it does, call a professional chimney sweep. This indicates there may be a blockage or a construction defect, which may mean a liner will not go in.

Retrofitting a Fireplace with a WoodstoveA chimney liner is a flexible stainless pipe the same diameter as the stove collar. It will be listed by or to the applicable UL standard. It should be insulated with ceramic fiber blanket insulation when it is venting on an exterior chimney or any time is has been advised because of inadequate clearances between the chimney and the building.

“The liner should be supported at the top of the chimney and the space sealed between the liner and the chimney with a plate and collar made for that purpose. The liner comes down through the smoke chamber and damper frame to a “T” which can sit on concrete blocks or be supported by heavy wire attached to fasteners in the upper firebox. In some cases you have to ovalize the liner or cut out part of the damper frame so the liner can pass through. Much of its weight will be supported on the bottom edge of the damper frame as the liner makes this bend. This stove will vent horizontally into the snout of the T.

Where the space in the room or traffic patterns make it desirable, you can site the stove inside the firebox and vent it directly up into the liner pipe. Make sure the fireplace is large enough so that you can set a pan of water on the stove and operate a top loading door if there is one.”

Storey’s Basic Country Skills is a tome of tricks and tools for living a country lifestyle.