During the home inspections that I perform in Ohio I often will come across a home that has a wood stove. I have a wood stove at my home and I love the heat that they can produce. There are safety issues that need to be looked at when installing one or when I am doing a home inspection of a home that has one. The proper installation always defaults to the manufacturer recommendations, however those recommendations are not always available. The following recommendations are based on not having the manufacturers installation guide book.
One of the issues that is seen during a home inspection with a wood stove is with the hearth. The hearth is the area on the floor that is directly under and around the stove. Sometimes the hearth is too small. The purpose of the hearth is to protect the floor from the heat and to prevent the floor from catching fire. The floor protection should extend at least 18 inches on all sides. The most common form of floor protection is brick.
The distance that a wood stove is installed away from a combustible wall is also an important observation The distance should be at least 36 inches away from the stove. This can be reduced to 12 inches if a heat shield is installed on the wall. Typical heat shield is sheet metal of 24 gauge in thickness and is installed using spacers to create a one inch gap between the wall and the sheet metal. The distance is also important when looking at the furnishings in the home. The furniture and other combustibles should be kept at a save distance. 36 inches is the recommended distance for combustible furniture as well.
The stove pipe is the other important factor that needs looked at during home inspections. Pipes get extremely hot and pipes need to have clearances from combustibles to prevent the home from catching fire. The distance between the pipe and combustibles can vary depending upon the type of flue being used. The typical distance is 18 inches which can be reduced to 9 inches if a heat shield is used.
As I perform a home inspection I am always on the lookout for creosote buildup. Creosote is a buildup that can form in the flue and it can become a fire hazard that can burn very hot and set the roof and house on fire. Chimneys and stove flues should be cleaned yearly.
Always get a home inspection for your safety and peace of mind.