For centuries, wood has been used as a heating fuel. With the concerns about the prices of fuels in the 1970’s, many home owners began to use wood  burning stoves as heating supplies. Today more than 400,000 of all single family homes in Canada use wood as their primary source of heat and more than  950,000 use it as a supplementary source of heat.

With the increased use of wood, manufacturers have made wood stoves more effective, efficient and convenient. Today’s wood stoves are very attractive and can be placed almost anywhere in the home, given proper clearances and chimney location. Most often, they are placed within the main living area of the house. Basement locations are not recommended unless the area is used frequently.


Floor Pads: Although certified wood stoves will not overheat floors, live embers that fall from the wood stove can be a fire hazard. The floor pad must be made of a durable non-flammable material, such as sheet metal, grouted ceramic tile or mortared brick. The pad must extend at least 450 mm. (18in.) in front of the loading door, and 200 mm. (8 in.) at the sides and the back. This pad should not be installed on carpeting.

The Stove: Wood stoves vary greatly in their  output ranges as well as their price. Some are very small and designed to act as area heaters, and may cost as little as $400 to $600. Larger models, designed to be the main heating source of the home, can range   upwards from $1500. It is important that the stove be sized properly to the heating needs of the home. Over-sizing results in extended periods of low firing that can cause trouble. It is best to get advice from an experienced wood stove retailer since they know how to match a stove to your heating needs.They are trained to look at the performance of the unit and the area it is intended to heat. Most people want the stove to take up as little space as possible. Although manufacturers specify the minimum clearances for a particular model, these clearances can be changed with the use of special shields which maintain an air space between the shield and the wall. These are made of either sheet metal, brick, or ceramic tiles,and must be permanently mounted to the wall.

Flue Pipe:  There  are  certain rules for the connection of these flue pipes to the chimney in order to ensure safety. The assemblies  must  be  short  and  direct  to  maintain  a  good  draft.    A straight rise with no  elbows  is  ideal  because  it  offers  the  least    restriction    to  gas  flow    and    is  low     maintenance due to  decreased  creosote.  Creosote  is  the  residue  left  behind  after  the  wood  has  burned.  It  is  a  black  tar-like  substance  that   is  highly  combustible  and  attaches   itself  to  the  inside  wall  of  the  chimney.  There  are  double-walled  flue  pipe   systems   that allow less clearances than single wall pipes. The double- walled  vented  pipes  can  be  either   sealed  or   vented. Sealed pipes are used if the assembly is long or the  stove  produces  slow   flue   gas  temperatures.  Vented   pipes  allow   cool air  to  pass  between  the  inner  and  outer  layers:  these   can  be used where the  length  of  the  flue  is  very  short  but  it  is  not  a good  choice for stoves   that   produce  low   flue   gas  temperatures.

The Chimney: The  selection, location, and   installation of the chimney is just as important as the stove purchased. When properly designed, a chimney will provide years of reliable service. The function of the chimney is to produce a draft to expel the exhaust gas to the outside. When the chimney is filled with hot gas,the gas rises because it is less dense than the air outside.This rising gas creates a pressure difference or draft —  the hotter the gas, the stronger the draft.

Basic guidelines to ensure efficient chimney operation

  • The building code requires that the top of the chimney extends not less than 1 m (3 ft.) above  the point it  exits the roof and  600  mm (2 ft.)  higher  than  any  roof, building or other obstacle within a  horizontal distance of  3m (10 ft. ).
  • The reason for these rules is to place the top of the chimney higher than air turbulence caused by wind.
  • Ÿ It is  more  efficient  to  install  the  chimney  within the house rather than up an outside wall. Even well insulated pipes will be affected by cold temperatures and are vulnerable to weather conditions.
  • The total chimney system height should be a minimum of 4.6m (15 ft.) to ensure a good draft.

The labels found on certified appliances carry the logo of the certified agency and are your assurance that the product has been tested and conforms to established safety standards.  The  manufacturer’s  installation instructions are checked and approved as part of the certification  process and must contain basic information and messages.

You can rely on these certified installation instructions to be accurate and, when followed,  will  result  in  a  safe   installation.   Look for these logos when shopping for a new wood burning appliance.


Wood, if properly burned is a very “clean” fuel comprised of 99% combustible solids and gases. The other 1% is non-combustible gas which can be recycled into the garden. Efficient wood burning does not add to global warming or acid rain since burning wood releases about the same amount of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane as the natural decomposition of wood on the forest floor.


Many insurance companies are now requiring that a Solid Fuel Heating Questionnaire be filled out by the homeowner when applying for home insurance. This form requires that the stove and chimney installation conforms to all required fire and building codes. The stove must also be certified and inspected. When a home with a wood burning stove does not meet the requirements of the Questionnaire, the policy may be refused or offered at a much higher premium. It is in the best interest of new home buyers to request a Solid Fuel Heating Insurance Inspection before they purchase. Canadian Home Inspection Services has provided inspections for insurance purposes.

All wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts should be inspected at the time of installation and whenever changes are made to the venting or stove unit. An annual cleaning is recommended to ensure that the unit is operating efficiently and safely. The chimney should be swept and cleaned annually to avoid  creosote  build-up.