When we moved to Maine in November of 2013, one of my very first tasks was to install a pellet stove in the house. Within a few days of arriving, I did that. While the pellet stove performed well, that first winter was rough. The house came with existing oil heat that worked in tandem with the pellet stove, but during an extremely cold evening, many of the baseboard pipes for that oil heat froze and burst. It was at that moment I decided to rip out the oil heat altogether. I’ve never liked that and I’m determined to never use it again. It’s expensive and complicated and I just don’t enjoy having it as a part of my life.
As we progressed through our lives in Maine, we decided that a wood stove would serve us well. The electricity seems to go out quite a bit in these parts and during those times when the pellet stove wouldn’t be able to run, we thought a wood stove would keep us nice and toasty. Later in our second year here, I installed a huge Englander 30-NCH, which I love very much. I’ve never felt a wood stove put out so much heat. The only problem is, I installed it in a smaller part of our house. It gets too hot and I end up sweating for half the night. The reason I did this was because the area I would have installed it was occupied by the pellet stove.
A few months ago (during the winter), I came to the decision that the pellet stove had to go. I was getting tired of using a fan to blow the majority of the heat from the wood stove from one room into another. While the pellet stove was great, it didn’t provide the warmth that I would have liked for the rest of the house. So, with this in mind, I began purchasing parts for my next project. I first bought the wood stove itself (Englander 17-VL), the pad for underneath as well as all the interior and chimney piping. I still have to pick up some more chimney piping and a roof bracket, but the most challenging parts of the job have been completed.
I had initially wanted to go through the wall with the piping, but then I thought it better to go through the ceiling. After realizing that things wouldn’t line up through the ceiling, I settled on the wall idea again. The only things that concerned me about this idea was a wall stud being in the way, cutting the actual hole in the wall and how far out I’d need to extend the exterior horizontal chimney pipe to make it past the roof overhang. There are angled pieces that would have helped with that, but those cost about $300 per piece. Extremely overpriced and I’m not one for throwing that type of money around, especially when there are better solutions to a problem like that. I just had to figure some things out in my head.
I’ll start off by showing you a photo of the stove itself. Again, this is the Englander 17-VL. It’s the smallest wood stove model that Englander makes currently and they claim it will heat a house of 1,200 square feet. The area we need to heat is only about 1,000 square feet, so that should be good. I’ve also read reviews were people claimed that this little stove can heat a heck of a lot more room than that, so I’m excited to see what it can do.
The only thing with this stove is, while the manufacturer claims it will burn 18″ logs, I’ll tell you that it’s a pain in the neck getting them in there. I’ve got that size in the garage, but I’m not too interested in struggling with feeding the fire while it’s going. It’s because of this that I asked for 14″ firewood for my most recent purchase.
Yes, I’d say I’m fully stocked up. I’ve got about seven cords out in the garage and only burn about two per year. I like having multiple year’s worth. It brings me peace of mind.
My concern about the stud in the wall wasn’t born out of having it there, per se; it was more about me being able to cut through it. The exterior walls on our house aren’t load bearing. We’ve got post-and-beam construction and most of the weight of the house falls on those posts and beams. I knew a single wall stud wouldn’t mind being cut through. I just didn’t know if my reciprocating saw would do it. As it ends up, my saw did fine. I actually hit two studs because there are also horizontal studs called “nailers” that the pine board and batten is nailed to from the outside. I didn’t care. I drew my 14 1/4″ box and I cut right through everything. The hole came out okay and I framed the entire thing out with additional 2x6s. It looked pretty good. I immediately inserted and installed the wall thimble and the interior pipe. I still have to add a few self tapping screws here and there to make sure nothing comes loose, but I’d say this looks pretty good. All the clearances are perfect and it’s very solid.
Okay, so this was the big thing that worried me. The overhang of our house only goes out about a foot past the wall. I knew the nine inch piece of “through-the-wall” pipe that came with the chimney kit wouldn’t clear that distance. It actually didn’t even make it through the wall completely because of the 2×6 construction. Also, I wouldn’t be able to go up through the overhang because there just wasn’t enough of it there. You need to maintain a two inch clearance around all combustibles, so that was out of the question. The only thing I could do was buy an extra two foot chimney pipe and just go around the overhang completely. So that’s what I did. I just needed to figure out a way to attach the entire contraption to the wall. Check this out.
Since the support base of the tee-adapter wouldn’t be flush up against the wall, I had to figure out some way to extend it. I set everything up and hung it in place with a tie-down. Then, I made my measurements and cut up some pressure treated 2x4s. I screwed everything together and made a nice box. I then installed the box by screwing it to the wall and the chimney pipe support base to it. It’s very sturdy and it holds the chimney pipe firmly in place. As you can see, I used the straps that were included in the kit to help secure part of the base. I still have to add additional straps as well. I also need to finish installing the remaining pipe above the roof line, but that should be easy. I’d say I’ve got about $500 more to spend and the project should be completed. The total will most likely be around $2000.
The reason I’m writing this post is because I know there is some person out there who is scratching their head right about now, wondering how to build something that will let them install Duravent chimney pipe out and past their roof overhang. Well, this is as good of an idea as any I’ve seen. Take a close look at the photos I’ve provided and let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help in any way I can.
Installing the Last Section of Wood Stove Chimney
I received the final section of our wood stove chimney yesterday. I’ve been purchasing these things a few at a time over the past few months as to keep the expense of installing a new wood stove as least noticeable as possible. Overall, I say I’ve done pretty well because, as I’ve mentioned in one of my previous posts, the slow purchase of these parts has given me time to think about exactly how I’d like to set things up. It’s also kept a big chunk of money from flowing out of my bank account all at once. Since this is the final section of chimney, I’d say this job is done.
I knew I’d like to write a post about positioning this three foot piece of pipe all the way on top of all the others, but I wasn’t quite sure how I could get that done. It really is a balancing act up there on the ladder and roof and it’s no time to be taking photos of myself. And I wanted to avoid taking pictures of a naked chimney. That’s pretty boring. So I got around all that by asking Laura to snap some photos of me in action. It’s so much better and more fun to be in these types of pictures. I get to show off how daring I am. Either daring or stupid. Since I completed everything successfully, I guess we’ll stick with daring. And handsome.
Okay, let’s start off with me looking straight up the outside of the chimney. This is just my artistic side coming out.
I already installed two three-foot sections of chimney, plus a smaller one foot section that came with the “through the wall” kit, so what I wanted to do was remove that one foot section, plus the cap and attach the section to the new three-foot section. So, the first thing I did was climb up on the ladder to unscrew and take that piece down.
When I got that small section down, I attached it to the larger one.
After that, the trick was to carry the sections up the ladder and onto the roof. This is easier said than done because the ladder was somewhat shaky and the roof is at a 45 degree angle. It’s pretty steep. I did it though and then I stretched out as far as I could to to connect the chimney pieces together.
When I put the pieces together, I then drilled some more sheet metal screws into them to make sure they stayed that way. It’s not like these sections would ever come apart, but the screws helps keep the entire chimney stiff and secure. I don’t want things swaying around up there in the wind.
By the way, these three-foot pieces of Duravent wood stove chimney are galvanized and they cost approximately $75 each from Home Depot. With free shipping. The stainless steel pieces cost about $25 more each.
This was the scariest part because I felt like I was going to slide down the roof. The pitch is just at the point of me sliding. My Crocs held tight though.
No wait. This was the scariest part because if I moved the wrong way, complete and utter disaster would occur. I had to partially climb the bracket.
I didn’t make a wrong move though and I survived. Knock on wood. I completed the install and came back down the ladder. Here’s the finished product.
Once I got up there on the roof and realized how tall the existing chimney actually was, I knew this was somewhat of a risky maneuver. I thought about it and decided that I was going to enjoy myself while I still can. I love climbing on things and I’ll likely continue to do so until I can’t anymore. If I keep at it and stay limber, I figure I can continue to have this type of fun well into my 80s.
How to Break in a New Wood Burning Stove
I have a word of warning for you. Don’t try to get a fire going in your brand new wood stove if it’s warmer outside than it is inside. Actually, don’t even try doing this if it’s only marginally cooler outside than it is inside, unless you’re prepared to smoke out your entire house. Unrelenting and awful smelling smoke. How can I offer you this advice? Hmmm…let me see.
Okay, here’s the story. Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly installing a new wood burning stove in our living room. I created a pad for the stove to sit on (pavers on concrete board), cut a big hole in the wall and connected all the piping. It’s a beautiful setup; one I discussed here. The reason I went about the project slowly is because I simply couldn’t bear to see my bank account drain away so much in one sitting. I figured that if I purchased everything I would need over time, I’d barely miss the money. I’d say that was a good idea, not only because of the financial aspect of things, also because it gave me time to consider how I wanted to place everything. You know, the details. I like thinking of details when it comes to projects like this.
Anyway, the stove is now installed and everything is perfectly aligned and ready for action. Since brand new wood stoves need to be broken in over the span of three short fires, I thought that I’d get the process completed while it was warmer outside and while we could have the windows in the house wide open. We wouldn’t be frozen out from the winter air and I’d also have the opportunity to test out my handiwork and to make sure everything I had done was functioning correctly. One of the aspects of breaking in a wood stove consists of “cooking the paint,” which absolutely stinks. I’ve done this before and for about an hour, I visibly saw the paint smoke from the surface of the stove, only to leave an acrid stench throughout the room in which the stove was installed. It was an unpleasant experience, to say the least. Long story short, I wanted to get that part out of the way.
The first time I attempted to make a fire in this new stove was last month. That didn’t go so well. There was no draft in the chimney because of the lack of inside/outside temperature differential. All the paper that I’d ignited inside of the stove only burned for about a minute or so and then went out. Because there was no draft, all the smoke from the smoldering paper spread out throughout the entire house, which left me scrambling to open the windows and to point the floor fan in any direction that might help reduce the impact of the situation. I don’t even know why I tried getting a fire going. I knew it wasn’t going to work. Which makes me look a bit silly, because, yes, I performed the same routine a few days later.
The next time I tried the same thing, I gave Laura all sorts of assurances that we wouldn’t get smoked out again. She didn’t trust me at all. There’s really no reason she should have because after a few minutes of smoldering paper and the room filing with smoke (again), we were in exactly the same position as the one I’d previously put us in. This time though, I decided to get my torch and light up all the paper in a big way inside the stove. Apparently, this did the trick because after a few minutes, a draft formed inside the stove and the wood began to burn. And after that, we had a full-fledged fire going in our brand new wood stove.
While this was all fine and good though, due to my excitement about getting the fire going and the challenge of doing so, I completely forgot about the “cooking the paint” process. So, for the next hour, Laura and I both enjoyed the stinking awful smell of paint smoking from the surface of the stove. At least we had the windows open and the floor fan at the ready. It wasn’t that bad.
What’s the moral of this story? I have no idea, but I had fun telling you about what we went through a few evenings ago.
How Long to Bake the Paint on a Brand New Wood Stove?
We’ve now had three full-length fires in our new wood stove. During the first burn, I got a bit nervous that the stove was too small. I’m so used to jamming huge logs into our other stove that I wasn’t quite prepared for what I’d need to satisfy this one. Our new stove is less than half the size of our larger stove. In case you’re interested, our larger stove is an Englander 30-NCH, which burns up to 22 inch logs. This new stove is a cute little Englander 17-VL, which comfortably burns much smaller 14 inch logs. Not only do the logs need to be shorter in length, they also need to be thinner all around.
At first, I was trying to burn the largest logs that fit into this smaller stove. That didn’t turn out too well. It didn’t like that at all. Once I accepted the fact that the actual size of the logs needed to be smaller and then agreed to this fact, I’ve had two very nice fires. The stove really cranks and I’m happy to report that I’m fairly thrilled with it.
So far, we had one fairly cool fire, one medium fire of around 300 degrees and a hotter more recent fire of about 400 degrees. I read that you’re supposed to break in a brand new stove, so that’s what I’ve been doing. The thing is, each time I have a fire going, the paint bakes a bit more than it did during the previous fire. I’m starting to wonder how long we’ll have to deal with the stink of baking paint. I’ll tell you this though; the first fire was horrible, the second fire was pretty bad and last night’s fire was semi-bad at the beginning, but wasn’t bad at all towards the end. I’d say that fire lasted approximately six hours, so I’m guessing all the baking was done at the beginning.
I was doing some reading last night on this topic and apparently, this is how it works. Every time you increase the temperature of the stove, more paint will bake off of it until you reach the highest temperature you’ll ever reach. I’m happy with last night’s temperature as the entire house was over 80 degrees. Granted, it was about 50 degrees outside, so that’s not much of a feat in and of itself. We’ll have to see how it does in mid-January, when things get real. I have a feeling this little stove will serve us well. I could sit there and watch those flames behind that window all night.