Installing a free-standing wood stove!

If you have never felt the heat coming from a wood stove loaded with Oak on a cold winter day – you don’t know what you’re missing.  We just made it through our first winter using our new Dutchwest 2462 Extra Large Catalytic Wood Stove.  I am happy to say it heated our 2500 + square foot house nicely.  Most days it was 70-72 degrees on the first floor and 66-68 degrees on the second floor (which is the perfect sleeping temperature).  The stove worked so well we didn’t even try to turn our furnace on until mid-December, which is when I found our furnace had died and needed to be replaced.  We could have continued to only use the stove through the whole winter, but lazyness set in and I did not want to wake up at 6:00 am to start a fire everyday.  So, the furnace would kick on when I felt lazy and we would save money and enjoy a toasty house when I felt motivated!  We burned through about 2 to 3 full cords of wood (fire 24/7 until mid-December and then 3 or 4 days/week the rest of the winter).

I want to show what was involved in installing a free-standing wood stove in a house that originally had no fireplace and no wood stove.  It was really more simple than you may think.

Step 1:  Decide on a stove.  This was probably the hardest part of the entire process.  It is really a balancing act.  You can purchase a “barrel stove kit” (50 gallon drum conversion kit) for $45.00 or a beautiful Vermont Castings stove for $4000.00+.  We’re not rich, but we didn’t want to burn our house down, so we settled for somewhere in the middle.  I am extremely glad we decided to go with a catalytic stove because I hand split all of our firewood for the year.  The catalytic stove uses a catalytic converter much like a car to burn the smoke (at 1100 to 1200 degrees) which increases the efficiency, saving trees and my back.

Step 2: Plan.  It pays to go with a stand-alone fireplace/stove store instead of a big box store like Home Depot.  We purchased our stove from Buttelwerth Stoves in Cincinnati – They know what they are doing and will help you through each step of the process.  Stoves require certain clearances around them and there are quite a few safety requirements….because…it’s fire…inside your house…I went through the Hamilton County Building Department permit process (several hundred more dollars) because I want our insurance to cover our house IF something ever were to happen.  And it’s the law…so…

Step 3:  Bite the bullet and plop down a whole lot of money.  It hurts but it is well worth it- Especially when the power went out this winter and E (wifey) and I looked at each other and smiled…because we still had heat and light from the fire!  What a nice night that was.  Cozy and quiet.

Step 4:  Build or buy a hearth pad.  If you don’t already have a wood stove, you will need to have a hearth pad to prevent burning the floor out from under the stove.  Again, worth the money.  I decided to build our hearth pad myself – which was fun and saved us several hundred dollars!  Here’s how it went:

Layer 1 – Cut out carpet under hearth pad area (scary when we JUST bought the carpet)

Layer 2 – .20 gauge steel sheet metal (last line of defense for any hot embers that may somehow slip through a crack in the hearth).

Layer 3 - Micor (high R value insulation board to prevent the subfloor from bursting into flames).  The red goo is a fire barrier sealant.  Another line of defense from burning the house down.

Layer 4 – Wonderboard!  (Base for the top tile layer).  I used Flexbond mortar to attach the wonderboard to the Micor.

Layer 5 – Tile and grout…and a handmade walnut frame with cocobolo splines

                                            Walnut frame with cocobolo splines

The guys from Buttelwerth Stoves then came in to install the chimney and the 550 pound stove.

And the final product!!!

A wood stove fits well with my other hobby of woodworking.  The worst that can happen if I mess up a woodworking project is that the project will keep me warm for the winter!

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