Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 63

A Guide to

Wood Heating

Natural Resources Ressources naturelles

Canada Canada
A Guide to Residential Wood Heating
This guide is distributed for information purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the
views of the Government of Canada or constitute an endorsement of any commercial product
or person. Neither Canada nor its ministers, officers, employees or agents make any warranty
with respect to this guide or assumes any liability arising from this guide.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2002

Cat. No. M92-23/2002E

ISBN 0-662-31793-9

Aussi disponible en français sous le titre :

Le Guide du chauffage au bois résidentiel
Table of Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Chapter 1 Safety Tips – Burn It Smart! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

Chapter 2 Wood Burning in Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Chapter 3 Wood Burning and the Environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Chapter 4 Advanced Wood-Heating Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Chapter 5 Heating Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Chapter 6 Wood-Heating Accessories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Chapter 7 Installation Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Chapter 8 Your Installation Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

Chapter 9 The Chimney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

Chapter 10 Preventing Smoke, Smells and Cold Hearths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

Chapter 11 Maintaining Your Wood-Heating System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

Chapter 12 Burning Wood Efficiently . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Chapter 13 Purchasing and Preparing Your Fuel Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Chapter 14 Comparing Annual Heating Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

Chapter 15 The Future of Residential Wood Heating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58

For More Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59


If you are thinking about buying a If you are already enjoying the
wood-heating appliance or already benefits of wood heat in your
heat your home with wood, you home, use this guide to help
may be one of 3 million Canadian you make informed decisions on
households that appreciate the such matters as the following:
ambience and warmth of wood • consulting wood-heating
heat. Wood heating has a long professionals;
history in Canada and, with new
available technologies, more • how to maintain your system
households are returning to for safety and peak efficiency;
wood for renewable energy. • how to purchase and store
Wood-heating technologies have your fuel wood;
changed a lot in the past decade. • how to use fire management
Today’s advanced combustion techniques for cleaner,
systems burn more cleanly and virtually smokeless fires; and
efficiently than ever.
• many other useful tips.
If you are shopping for a
wood-heating appliance or are This guide is part of a series of
planning to replace or upgrade buyer’s guides on renewable
your current unit, consider only energy systems for residential use.
a highly efficient combustion More documents on residential
appliance. You can identify these wood heating include these titles:
advanced systems by looking for • All About Wood Fireplaces
proof of certification to the per-
• An Introduction to Home
formance standards set by both
Heating With Wood
CSA International, formerly the
Canadian Standards Association, • Buying a High-Efficiency
(“CSA B415.1 Performance Wood-Burning Appliance
Testing of Solid-Fuel-Burning • Getting the Most Out of Your
Heating Appliances”) and the Wood Stove
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA 1990). Certified For electronic versions of these
systems will give you a cleaner, guides, visit the Web site at
more efficient burn. http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/es/erb/
reed/public_e.htm. You can also
order copies free of charge by
calling 1 800 387-2000 toll-free.

1 Safety Tips – Burn It Smart!

Enjoy the benefits of your wood Don’t let a small spark A hot new stove
fire in comfort just by taking ignite a big blaze ✔ If you are using an open fire-
a few simple precautions. ✔ The best way to start your place or your wood stove is
Otherwise, in the blink of an fire is with newspaper and past its prime, you might
eye, those warm friendly flames dry kindling. Never try to get consider buying a new model
in your fireplace or wood stove a blaze roaring with gasoline, with improved safety and
could turn into a devastating kerosene or charcoal starter – efficiency features. The best
fire. You can easily prevent you will get more firepower choice is a high-efficiency
dangerous situations such as than you bargained for. stove or fireplace approved
chimney fires by taking the for safety by the Underwriters’
✔ Remove ashes from your
proper safety measures. Laboratories of Canada (ULC)
stove or fireplace regularly
Here are some good tips on ways or another testing body, and
and store them in a covered
to burn cleaner wood fires. certified as low-emission by
metal container in a safe area
the U.S. Environmental
away from the side of your
Protection Agency (EPA).
house. The sparks in hot
Safety ashes can easily start fires.
Go to the professionals
Keep creosote at bay ✔ Keep all household items – ✔ Any new stove or fireplace
Creosote, a crusty deposit left drapes, furniture, newspaper should be professionally
behind by the smoke that drifts and books – away from the installed. Make sure your
up your chimney, can ignite into heat and the stray sparks of existing unit is inspected and
a dangerous fire when it builds your woodstove or fireplace. cleaned at least once a year
up. To reduce it:
✔ Protect floors from sparks by a technician certified
✔ Burn only clean, well- with a properly fitted screen under the Wood Energy
seasoned wood that has been around your fireplace. A Technical Training (WETT)
split and dried properly. Dry decorative screen does not program or, in Quebec, the
wood lights faster, burns bet- provide protection. Association des profession-
ter and produces less smoke nels du chauffage.
than “green” wood – a major
Detection devices
culprit in creosote buildup.
save lives
✔ Think twice before you chop ✔ Install carbon monoxide
up that old coffee table and detectors and smoke alarms,
toss it into your wood stove. as required by the National
Burning garbage, plastic, parti- Fire Code of Canada, and keep
cleboard, plywood, salted a fire extinguisher nearby.
driftwood or any other You should never smell
painted or treated wood smoke in your house.
releases a toxic cloud of If you do, it usually means
chemicals and can build your wood stove or fireplace
up creosote. system isn’t venting properly –
perhaps the chimney is
blocked, a damper is faulty
or the fireplace is competing
with your range hood. Not
only are these fire hazards,
but they could also lead to
deadly carbon monoxide

Healthier Where there’s smoke…
there’s pollution
Wood Heat ✔ Burn dry, well-seasoned wood
The hottest pollution that has been split properly.
preventer Green wood produces
✔ The best way to reduce wood unhealthy smoke because
smoke is by using a high- it is too wet.
efficiency wood stove or ✔ Burning garbage, plastic, par-
fireplace, certified low- ticleboard, plywood or any
emission by the EPA. Used other painted or treated
properly, these products cut wood releases a toxic cloud
emissions by up to 90 percent, of chemicals – don’t toss
and you will see virtually no these items into your fire.
smoke coming from your
chimney. Be energy efficient
✔ More efficient than ✔ Make sure your home is
conventional models, high- energy efficient by insulating
efficiency products use up walls, caulking windows and
to one third less wood – repairing weatherstripping
meaning less smoke, less around the doors. Don’t let
work and hearty cost savings. your heat slip through the
Burn small and
burn smart Local Air Quality Advisory
✔ Keep the fire hot and small. ✔ Under certain weather condi-
Feed it regularly with split tions, you will notice that
wood and never let it smoul- the smoke is slow to thin
der. A smouldering fire out and hangs in the air for
creates more smoke. longer than usual. Sometimes
Canadian municipalities will
✔ Don’t overload your stove issue local air quality advi-
or fireplace. Air should sories in which people are
move around inside for asked not to burn wood during
a cleaner burn. this time. It’s important to
respect these advisories.

2 Wood Burning in Canada

• pellet stoves that use com- Our houses have also become
Scientific research and the pressed wood and other more energy efficient, with more
co-operative efforts of govern- biomass wastes, capable of insulation, more effective air
ments and industry make wood providing at least 24 hours barriers, and sealed doors and
burning safer, cleaner, more
of unattended, automated windows. These changes make
convenient and more efficient
than ever. heating; houses easier to heat. But they
• standards that provide clear also mean that wood-burning
guidelines for safe installa- systems must be better designed
Wood was Canada’s original and sized and their installation
tion; and
heating fuel. Wood burning carefully planned so that they
continues to be an effective and • professional training programs function properly within a
economical way to heat your for installers and inspectors to tightly sealed house.
home – as a primary heating ensure that you get depend-
source or as a secondary heating able advice and service.
source to complement conven- As recently as the mid-1970s,
The Keys to Safe
tional oil or gas furnaces, or basement wood furnaces or sim- and Successful
electric baseboards. ple box stoves burned most of Wood Burning
the wood in homes. Then came The keys to safe and successful
Advances in the evolution to airtight stoves, wood burning are good planning,
which were more efficient but
Wood Burning created more air pollution.
carefully selecting a high-efficiency
appliance, installing and properly
Major advances in the 1990s Pressured by environmental operating the appliance and prac-
have made wood burning cleaner observers over the issue of smoke tising clean-burning habits. This
and more effective, efficient pollution, stove designers began guide is intended to help you
and convenient than ever. The to develop cleaner-burning plan and use your wood-burning
following are some of these products. By the early 1990s, system in the safest, cleanest and
advances: Canadian manufacturers led most effective way.
• combustion designs that can the way, and new products
burn more of the wood – and reached the market.
burn it more cleanly and at Today, the efficiency of
higher efficiencies; wood-heating systems has
• performance standards improved significantly. Most
(CSA B415.1 and EPA 1990) of the new wood-heating
that identify newer, cleaner- appliances are attractive
burning units; stoves and fireplaces designed
for the main living areas of
• technology that provides
a home. They use advanced
more efficient heating while
technology and are cleaner-
allowing you to view the
burning. Such appliances,
flame from behind a special
properly installed in the right
ceramic glass door that will
place, can provide primary
stay clear for long periods;
or secondary heat for your
home – while offering the
beauty of a visible fire.

3 Wood Burning and the Environment

• Avoid smouldering fires by Wood, however, differs from

Wood is a renewable energy using the clean-burn tech- fossil fuels such as oil and gas
resource. And because trees niques covered in Chapter 10, because it is carbon neutral. The
recycle carbon dioxide, wood “Preventing Smoke, Smells and term “renewable” refers to the
burning doesn’t contribute to Cold Hearths.” Burning wood fact that trees recycle CO2. As a
the problem of climate change.
cleanly reduces up to half the tree grows, it uses CO2 from the
As well, advanced combustion
technologies mean more heat amount of smoke produced. air as a source of carbon to build
and less smoke from the wood its structure. This carbon makes
• Use well-seasoned, dry, clean
you burn. up about half of the weight of
firewood that is split to the
wood. When wood is burned, it
right size for your appliance.
decomposes rapidly, and CO2 is
Any fuel you choose to heat your • Make your house more released into the atmosphere
home will affect the environ- energy efficient so that you again. A similar amount of CO2
ment. When wood is not burned use less fuel to heat it. Using would be slowly released if the
properly, it can have negative less fuel wood means less tree died and was left to rot on
impacts on both outdoor and environmental impact and the forest floor. As a result, wood
indoor air quality. Smouldering, less work on your part. heating doesn’t contribute to the
smoky fires that produce a plume
problem of climate change the
of blue-grey smoke from the
chimney are the main cause of Wood Burning, way fossil fuel use does. But
wood fuel is truly renewable
air pollution related to wood Climate Change only if it is produced by using
burning. You can reduce the
amount of smoke from wood and the sustainable forestry practices.
Canada’s forests can be a perpet-
heating in many ways. Carbon Cycle ual source of fuel – as long as
• If possible, upgrade to a new, Nearly every day, we read news
they are cared for and managed
cleaner-burning stove or reports about the need to reduce
fireplace. Cleaner-burning emissions of greenhouse gases
appliances are certified to CSA (GHGs) to prevent climate
International’s CSA B415.1 change and related problems.
smoke emissions standard or The main source of GHGs is the
to U.S. Environmental burning of oil, gas and coal to
Protection Agency rules. These produce the energy we use.
appliances reduce smoke emis- These fuels are called fossil fuels
sions by as much as 90 percent because they are taken from deep
compared with conventional beneath the earth’s surface,
wood stoves, fireplaces and where they have been formed
furnaces. Ask your hearth over millions of years. When
products retailer for details. fossil fuels are burned, GHGs
are released. The main GHG is
• Select an appliance that is carbon dioxide (CO2). Increased
the right size for your home’s concentrations of these gases in
heating needs, and place it in the atmosphere trap the sun’s
the main living area to make heat close to the earth and cause
the best use of the heat it the average global temperature
produces. to rise.
• Use a modern chimney ▲ The Carbon Cycle
matched to your appliance.

4 Advanced Wood-Heating Technologies

In the mid-1980s, researchers

and appliance designers began
to develop new technologies to Combustion
significantly reduce the amount Systems
of smoke and other pollutants Highly efficient combustion
that wood-burning appliances systems create the conditions
produce. Complete combustion needed to burn the smoke before
needs three simultaneous condi- it leaves the appliance. The
tions: high temperature, enough technology has the following
oxygen (air) and time for the characteristics:
combustion gases to burn before
• firebox insulation to keep
being cooled.
temperatures high;
Today, these highly efficient
• primary combustion air that
technologies come in three
is preheated so that it doesn’t
categories: advanced combustion,
catalytic, and densified pellet
cool the fire; ▲ Advanced combustion system
systems. • preheated secondary air that
is fed to the fire through When wood in a combustion
sets of small holes in the stove or fireplace is burning well,
gas-burning zone, above and you may see nearly transparent
behind the fuel bed; and flames swirling above the wood
in addition to the normal flames
• internal baffles that give the
coming from the wood.
gases a long and hot enough
route so that they can burn Canadian manufacturers have
completely. an international reputation as
designers of some of the most
effective wood-burning appli-
ances in the world. Ask your
hearth products retailer to
point these appliances out.

Catalytic Stoves Densified Pellet
Catalytic stoves rely on a catalyst
to help burn smoke before it
Densified pellet systems burn
leaves the appliance. The catalyst
fuel made from dried ground
in a wood-burning appliance
wood or other biomass waste
is a coated ceramic honeycomb-
compressed into small cylinders
shaped device through which the
about 6 mm (1/4 in.) in diameter
exhaust gas is routed. The catalytic
and 25 mm (1 in.) long. The
coating lowers the ignition
pressure and heat created during
temperature of the combustion
their production binds the
gases as they pass through it.
pellets together with the lignin
This allows catalytic appliances
in the wood without using ▲ Densified pellet system
to burn cleanly at low heat output
settings. The performance of Since pellet stoves have three or
the catalyst deteriorates over Pellet burners include a hopper even four motors, they can use
time and emissions rise accord- to hold 20–60 kg of fuel and a a lot of electricity. If possible,
ingly, so you need to replace screw auger to automatically try to get a pellet stove that uses
the catalyst now and then. move the pellets from the efficient electric motors. DC
hopper into the combustion motors use the least amount of
Because the catalyst restricts
chamber. Pellets burn cleanly energy – only 40–120 watts in
gas flow through the appliance,
because they are fed to the total. To ensure that your pellet
catalytic stoves always include
chamber at a controlled rate stove is efficient and clean-
a bypass damper into the flue.
and are matched with the right burning, buy one that has
The damper is opened when fuel
amount of combustion air. If been tested to CSA B415.1 or
is loaded and is closed when
they are properly adjusted, EPA 1990 standards.
you get a hot fire. This forces
pellet-burning stoves can operate
the gases through the catalyst
at lower emissions levels than
for an extended, cleaner burn.
natural firewood appliances.
The restriction of gas flow can
also cause draft problems.

▲ Catalytic stove

5 Heating Options

Like any effective heating sys- Heat Output

Most Canadian homes are tem, installing a space heater Wood stoves range from very
heated by a central system, takes careful planning. If you small units, designed to heat
either a furnace or boiler (usually intend to supply most of your only a small area, to large stoves
located in the basement). The home’s heating needs with a that can heat large houses.
heat is distributed around the
space heater, consider these two However, large-output stoves
house through ducts (hot air) or
in pipes (hot water). Space important factors: work well only if your house has
heaters tend to heat the area in 1) The heater should be located an open-plan design, where the
which they are located. where household members heat can readily circulate to
spend most of their time. other areas.

You have many options for heat- 2) The heat must be able to Selecting a stove with the correct
ing your home with wood. These circulate to other parts of heat output range can be tricky
options, discussed below, include the house. because the stove’s appearance
space heaters such as wood doesn’t always reflect its perfor-
These conditions aren’t difficult mance. If the stove’s output is
stoves and fireplaces, as well as
to meet, but they do need to be too large for the space to be
central heating systems.
planned. heated, it will be turned down
Space heaters come in several dif- low much of the time, producing
SPACE HEATERS ferent forms. They include wood a smoky fire. An undersized
Most wood-burning appliances stoves, cookstoves, pellet stoves, stove, meanwhile, may deterio-
function primarily as space conventional fireplaces, high- rate because of constant
heaters. A space heater is intended efficiency fireplaces, fireplace over-firing. What is the best way
to heat a space directly, unlike a inserts and masonry heaters. to find a stove that is sized for
central heating furnace or boiler, your needs? Get advice from an
which supplies heat to the house experienced wood stove retailer.
through a system of ducts or pipes. Wood Stoves Since these retailers know the
In the past, when houses were The wood stove is the most com- performance of each of their
poorly insulated and drafty, a mon wood-heating appliance. stoves, they can help you choose
space heater could be expected It can be safely located almost one that has the right output for
only to heat the room it was anywhere as long as there is the space you want to heat.
installed in and possibly an enough space and a chimney
adjacent space. Modern houses can be properly routed. The ideal
conserve energy more effectively place for the space heater is in
and need less heat to stay warm. the centre of the main-floor
Now a single space heater can living area of the house, with
provide most of the heat for a the flue pipe running straight
well-insulated, average-sized home. up from the stove flue collar
into the chimney. This type of
installation provides the best
performance and requires the
least maintenance. However,
keep in mind that all wood-
heating appliances need regular
upkeep for safety, efficiency and
cleanliness. Wood stoves come in
a wide range of sizes and designs.

Design Means of Heat Transfer When you shop for a stove, you
The exterior designs of wood Various stove designs heat will notice that most new wood
stoves owe more to aesthetics the room in different ways. stoves deliver heat to a room by
and personal preference than to Depending on its design, a a combination of direct radia-
performance. For example, there wood stove may deliver most tion and convection. The sides
are no clear differences in perfor- of its heat by direct radiation, and rear of many stoves are
mance between cast iron and by the convection flow of shielded so that they can be
plate steel constructions or warmed air, or both. installed close to walls, and these
between painted and enamelled shields create convection flow of
Radiation is the direct transfer of
finishes. The real difference is warm air. The fronts of all stoves,
heat from the hot stove surfaces
the technology inside the con- either with glass panels or solid
to walls, furniture and people that
ventional wood stove as opposed metal doors, deliver heat directly
are in direct line of sight from the
to the technology in the high- to the room.
stove. Radiant energy will make
efficiency wood stove.
you feel warm, even though
the air around you is cool. The Cookstoves
ceramic glass in the new wood
stoves has special properties that
allow direct radiation from the
flame to pass through it. So you
get heat through the glass, as well
as from the hot metal surfaces of
the stove.
Convection is the transfer of
heat through the motion of air.
In wood stoves that deliver heat
by convection, the body of the
stove is surrounded by an outer
casing, usually made of sheet
metal. Heat from the stove cre-
ates a current of air in the space
between the body and the outer
casing. This way, much of the
heat from the stove is delivered
to the room as warmed air, ▲ Generations of rural Canadians used
wood-burning cookstoves not only
rather than direct radiation. for preparing meals and heating
The outer surfaces of convection water, but also for heating their
▲ CAST-IRON WOOD STOVES – Cast-iron stoves (and the shielded portions homes.
wood stoves deliver much of their
heat to the room by direct radiation. of other stoves) don’t get as hot
Rear heat shields, however, are as unshielded surfaces. You may find that a cookstove is
often used to reduce installation a desirable addition to your rural
clearances. These shields create
convection air flow. home. However, cookstoves
aren’t designed for use as stand-
alone home-heating devices. And
even though their manufacturers
have been developing efficient,
clean-burning products, smoky
fires can still be a problem.

Pellet Stoves At the same time, pellet stoves
usually have three motorized
Stoves that burn pellet fuels –
systems that require electricity.
made from wood, corn or other
biomass wastes – have been 1) a fuel feed auger to move the
widely available in Canada for fuel from the storage hopper
several years. Pellet stoves have to the combustion chamber;
some advantages over wood 2) an exhaust fan to move the
stoves that burn firewood: exhaust gases through the
• The automatic operation is appliance and into the vent-
convenient. ing system while drawing in
combustion air; and
• One hopper-load of fuel can
last 24 hours or more. 3) a circulating fan to force air
through the heat exchanger
• The fuel is supplied in com-
and into the room.
pact bags that store neatly.
• Most can use a special vent
A few pellet stoves can operate ▲ Pellet stoves have a more complex
during electrical power failures interior than wood stoves. A motor-
that costs less than wood- ized auger feeds the pellets to the
by using batteries to operate combustion chamber, and a fan
stove chimneys.
the motors. forces the exhaust into the venting
• They can offer low emissions system. An air circulation fan is
Although stoves are the most also standard equipment on pellet
and high efficiency.
common pellet-burning appli- stoves. On the other hand, they are
Balancing these advantages are ances, you may also find easier to use and you can control
the temperature.
some limitations that you should fireplaces and central heating
consider: furnaces that burn pellet fuel in
• Pellet stoves tend to your area. Depending on your
cost more. circumstances, a pellet-burning
appliance could be a very
• Pellet fuel is more expensive practical heating option.
than firewood in many areas.
• Most pellet stoves need
electricity to drive auger
motors and fans.

• Flames produced by pellet

stoves don’t look as natural
as wood fires, although this
feature has improved.

Conventional fireplaces perform poorly because
they don’t have the characteristics
Note, too, that the tempered
glass used in most fireplace doors
Fireplaces needed to convert the fuel to (unlike the ceramic glass used for
Conventional fireplaces have a useful heat – such as tight-fitting new wood stoves) blocks much
long history in Canadian home casketed doors, well-designed of the radiant heat coming from
heating. They are built from combustion chambers and an the fire.
masonry materials such as brick, adequate heat exchanger. You may think that installing a
block and stone. More recently,
Not only are conventional fire- tubular grate or special firebox
factory-built models are con-
places inefficient and drafty, they liner will improve the fireplace’s
structed mainly of steel. These
can create two other problems. heating efficiency. However, this
fireplaces were designed for, and
First, their simple fireboxes don’t option isn’t recommended because
are only useful for, your enjoy-
burn the wood completely, so air it makes only a minor improve-
ment of the fire.
pollution can be high. Second, ment. And continuous use of the
Conventional wood-burning their large air consumption, poor fireplace could dangerously
fireplaces don’t heat a home combustion and widely varying overheat the surrounding area.
effectively. Tests show that they draft make them more likely Installing an outside combustion
can cause major heat loss by than other types of wood-burn- air duct to the firebox is unlikely
drawing heated air out of the ing systems to spill smoke into to improve performance and
house while delivering little heat the room. These days, Canadians can become a fire hazard under
to the room. This problem can are more concerned about indoor certain wind conditions. Air from
actually make the house feel air pollution than ever. If you the outdoors can reverse flow
drafty while the fireplace is oper- share that concern, avoid using direction, sending hot exhaust
ating and can result in a near- or a conventional fireplace in gases through the duct.
below-zero efficiency when it is your home.
cold outside. Conventional If you use your open-pit fireplace
If you already have a con- only occasionally to view a fire,
ventional fireplace and artificial fire logs made of wax
would like to upgrade it, and sawdust are a good alterna-
be a little sceptical about tive to natural firewood. Efficiency
the claims made for many won’t be high, but pollutants
fireplace products. While will be reduced.
manufacturers advertise
many options that claim to However, if you want to use
improve the performance your fireplace on a regular basis
of a conventional fireplace, and want better all-round per-
in reality most do little to formance, your best option is
increase efficiency or to upgrade it with an advanced
decrease pollutants. combustion fireplace insert or
hearth-mount stove. By upgrad-
For example, to reduce the ing your system, you will notice
cold draft, you could install more heat, much fewer pollutants
tempered-glass doors on the and fewer cold drafts while
fireplace. The doors won’t enjoying your fireplace. Moreover,
improve energy efficiency, you will still be able to view an
but they may reduce the attractive fire.
leakage of air when you
aren’t using the fireplace.

▲ Conventional open-pit fireplace

High-Efficiency These new fireplaces, approved
to CSA International or EPA per-
Fireplaces formance standards, can meet
If you are looking for a new fire- both heating and aesthetic objec-
place installation, you can now tives. Their only real drawback is
combine the beauty of a fireplace the complex installation, which
with the heating power of a you should leave to trained
wood stove by selecting one of professionals.
the new breeds of advanced
factory-built fireplaces. Advanced
combustion, high-efficiency fire- Fireplace Inserts
places are becoming as effective A fireplace insert is like a wood
for space heating as the new, stove, but designed to be installed
advanced wood stoves. They use within the firebox of an existing
the same internal combustion masonry fireplace. Inserts are used
features to reduce smoke emis- to convert masonry fireplaces into
sions and boost efficiency. more effective heating systems.
An insert consists of a firebox
The firebox and heat exchanger
▲ Factory-built fireplaces feature surrounded by an insulated con-
of these fireplaces are surrounded advanced combustion systems, vection shell. Air flows through
by an insulated sheet-metal tight-fitting ceramic glass doors
the shell to be warmed before
casing. This means they can be and heat exchangers. Some have
optional duct kits to distribute being returned to the room. The
installed within a combustible warm air to other parts of outer shell ensures that most of
construction without overheat- the home. the heat is delivered to the room
ing it. A lumber or steel-stud Some advanced fireplaces are instead of being trapped behind
frame is constructed and sheathed approved for additional duct the insert in the masonry structure.
with drywall or other materials routing to any part of the house.
to enclose the sides and rear of
the fireplace. The enclosure can
then be decorated with tile, brick
or stone slices and a mantel to
create either a traditional- or
modern-style fireplace. In most
cases, the fireplace and its deco-
rative facing materials can be
installed without a foundation
or floor reinforcement.
These fireplaces provide heat to
the room by drawing air through
a grille (below the firebox)
into the circulation chamber
(between the firebox and casing),
where it is heated. This heated
air is directed back into the room
either through another grille
above the fireplace opening or
through one or more ducts.
▲ You can retrofit an existing masonry fireplace with an insert to improve its
efficiency and reduce the amount of air exhausted from the house.

A decorative faceplate covers the installed from the insert flue col- the extent that today’s best fire-
space between the insert body lar to the top of the chimney. place inserts, with ceramic glass
and the fireplace opening. The result is better performance doors and insulated outer casing,
and a safer system. are nearly as efficient as free-
Fireplace inserts used to have a
standing wood stoves.
reputation for being unsafe, ineffi- The liner reduces the flue size to
cient and expensive to maintain match the insert. It also isolates Perhaps you already have an
because the exhaust wasn’t prop- the exhaust gas from the masonry insert installed in a masonry fire-
erly vented to the outdoors. Many structure of the fireplace and its place. Adding a stainless-steel
older installations allowed the chimney. Your new insert should chimney liner would greatly
exhaust gas to exit the insert flue be certified for low emissions so improve performance and safety.
collar and find its way up the that you get the full benefits of
A few special inserts can be
chimney. In an attempt to correct the advanced technologies. This
installed in factory-built fire-
this problem, homeowners some- design evolution and technology
places. If you are considering
times used a short length of have increased performance to
using an insert to improve the
stainless steel liner to connect performance of your conventional
the flue collar to the base of the factory-built fireplace, be sure
fireplace chimney. However, expe-
that it is certified for this use.
rience has shown that, even with
a direct chimney connection,
inserts didn’t work properly. Aside Hearth-Mount
from poor combustion, many
inserts did a poor job of trans-
A hearth-mount stove is an
ferring heat from one room to alternative to a fireplace insert.
another. They were also hard to A hearth mount is a wood stove
clean and generated a high level installed in front of a fireplace.
of creosote. Creosote is an oily Or, if you have a large fireplace,
liquid with a penetrating odour, it can be mounted partially
obtained by distilling wood tar. inside its firebox and vented
When your chimney is caked with through the fireplace chimney.
creosote, your risk for chimney Like inserts, hearth mounts must
fires increases significantly. be vented through a liner that is
Municipal installation codes now continuous from the flue collar
require that a properly sized, to the top of the chimney. It is
stainless-steel chimney liner be usually more efficient than an

▲ Municipal installation codes

now require that a properly sized,
stainless-steel chimney liner be
installed from the insert flue
collar to the top of the chimney.
The result is better performance
and a safer system

insert, as heat from the casing With a masonry heater, you
comes directly into the room. You need only one or two hot fires
can use only certain wood stoves each day to provide all of the
as hearth mounts. The certification heat that your home needs.
label and installation instructions The wood is burned quickly
indicate if the unit can be vented and the fire is allowed to go
through a fireplace. out. But the heat stored in the
masonry structure continues
to radiate warmth for many
High-Thermal- hours thereafter.
Mass Masonry The Masonry Heater
Heaters Association of North America
High-thermal-mass masonry has developed guidelines
heaters operate on a different for the efficient design and
principle from high-efficiency, installation of these heaters.
factory-built fireplaces. Masonry Be sure that your unit meets
heaters take advantage of tonnes these requirements. Since a
of mass – in the form of bricks masonry heater represents a
or stone – to absorb and later considerable investment, con-
release the heat from the fire. sult a professional installer
These heaters also have a com- experienced in its design, ▲ Unlike conventional fireplaces,
construction and installation. masonry heaters burn more cleanly
pletely different interior from and are a more efficient source of
conventional masonry fireplaces. heat. The heat from the fire is trans-
ferred to the mass of the masonry
The core of the heater, consisting
before being slowly released to the
of the firebox and heat exchange room. Masonry heaters aren’t rated
channels, is built from high-tem- for emissions, but you can achieve
perature firebrick and/or precast equivalent performance by following
guidelines from the Masonry Heater
masonry components. To com- Association of North America.
plete the fireplace, the core is
then surrounded by brick, tile
or stone.

CENTRAL HEATING However, central heating with a
wood-fired furnace may still be
Add-On Wood
Furnace Installation
A central heating system uses a
an option under the following Wood furnaces and boilers can
network of air ducts or water
conditions: be installed to work automati-
pipes to distribute heat to all
areas of the house. For example, • the house is old, large and cally with appliances that use
furnaces heat air that is then not energy efficient; other fuels, such as oil, natural
forced through ducts with a fan. gas and electricity. Combination
• the house has many small furnaces (such as wood-oil or
Boilers heat water that is forced rooms with no large
through pipes with a pump. Most wood-electric) have two energy
open areas; sources in a single packaged unit.
houses in Canada have central
heating systems that use oil, gas • there is no suitable place to Add-on furnaces and boilers can
or electricity as energy sources. install a fireplace or wood be installed beside existing fur-
stove; naces and boilers that use other
Central heating with wood-fired fuels. In general, wood-burning
furnaces and boilers is less com- • fire viewing is a low priority;
furnaces must have greater clear-
mon than it used to be. Houses • you have ready access to ances from combustible surfaces
are now more energy efficient and large amounts of low-cost (e.g. ceiling joists, frame walls)
easier to heat with wood-burning wood fuel; or than oil, gas or electric furnaces.
space heaters and advanced All units must be safety tested
• you clean your furnace and
fireplaces, which also offer the and certified.
venting system frequently.
aesthetics of fire viewing. As well,
furnace and boiler-combustion Because wood furnaces lack
technology has lagged behind the advanced combustion features,
advances in wood stoves. Presently, they produce more smoke and
no commercial units come close deposit more creosote in their
to achieving the low emission chimneys. If you choose a wood-
levels – or the higher efficiencies – burning central furnace, be
of advanced wood stoves. prepared to service the chimney,
flue pipes and furnace heat
exchanger regularly during
the winter.

▲ The add-on is placed beside the existing furnace, and special ducts are installed to
connect the two units. The air passes through the original furnace, then through
the add-on and into the ducts to be distributed throughout the house. Note that
only an experienced professional should install an add-on.

Outdoor Boiler There are many problems with
An outdoor boiler is contained in outdoor boilers that make them
a small structure that looks like a controversial and, in many cases,
garden shed. Heated water from undesirable. Most outdoor boilers
the boiler is pumped through a create a lot of smoke during oper-
pipe underground to the house. ation for the following reasons:
Here it either passes through a • they lack internal features
heat exchanger, releasing its that promote complete
heat to a forced air stream, or is combustion of the wood;
distributed to various areas sup-
plying heat to baseboard or wall • the relatively cool boiler
registers or through floor-heating surfaces quench the flames;
coils. The water is then sent back • the units are inefficient;
to the boiler through a second
• the units selected are often
underground pipe to be reheated.
too large for the heat load,
Uncertified outdoor boilers have which results in smouldering;
become more popular in the past
• their large fireboxes encour-
decade. These boilers confine the
age owners to use large pieces
mess of chips and bark from
of unsplit, unseasoned fire-
wood storage and handling to
wood that burn inefficiently;
the outdoors. You can use the
boiler to heat tap water, as well • few municipalities authorize
as your home. Another advan- permits for their installation;
tage is that you can use one of • their on/off operating cycle
these units to heat more than means excessive combustion,
one building. which creates high creosote
pollution during the off
Some outdoor boilers make so cycle; and
much smoke and air pollution
• they smoulder for long
that many neighbours complain.
Numerous rural municipalities in periods when used to
Canada have either considered produce domestic hot
banning them or are proceeding water during the summer,
to do so. producing high levels of
smoke emissions.

6 Wood-Heating Accessories

You might consider buying some

accessories to enhance your
Ash Container Fire Screen
You will want to set an effective For safety and performance
wood-heating system. Some of
routine for dealing with ashes. reasons, you must operate most
the options discussed below can
Following are three ways to wood stoves with their doors
make wood burning more pleas-
avoid creating dust as you closed. However, a few stove
ant and convenient, while others
remove the ashes: models are safety certified for
can create problems.
use with their doors open and a
• if your stove has an ash pan,
special fire screen in place. The
empty it regularly (don’t let
Tool Set it over-fill) and transfer the
screen is offered as an option
There are standard sets of tools with these models. Be aware
ashes from the pan to a
for managing a wood fire to heat that stoves operating this way
larger, covered metal bucket
your home. You will use these are less efficient and produce
outdoors (never indoors);
tools several times a day during more smoke emissions than they
periods of regular heating, so get • use an accessory ash scoop would with their doors closed. At
a set that is more practical than with a sliding lid to reduce any rate, never use a fire screen
decorative. Tool sets for wood- the dust in your home; and that isn’t specifically certified for
heating appliances are different • if you use a shovel and use with your stove. Screens used
from the more decorative sets bucket, remove ashes from only for decoration are no substi-
used with conventional fire- the stove slowly and never tute for a safely closed stove door.
places. Stove tool sets have drop ashes from the shovel
shorter handles and have an ash into the bucket. Warm splat-
rake instead of a poker. Any tered ashes are a fire hazard.
retailer that specializes in hearth
Double-bottom ash buckets and
accessories can help you identify
ash scoops are available from
which sets are best suited for
wood-heating retailers.
your appliance.

▲ Ash bucket
▲ Fireplace tool set

Domestic Humidifier
Hot-Water Does the air in your house tend
to be dry in winter? Do you
Coil or Tank notice too much static electricity
Heating household tap water and have a dry nose and mouth?
with a wood stove may seem like If so, consider adding humidity
an attractive idea, but it is rarely to your air. The simplest form
feasible because such systems of humidifier is a cast-iron pot
are complicated and expensive. of water left to evaporate on
Poorly designed systems can also the stove. Decorative cast-iron
be hazardous. Without proper humidifiers designed for this
design and pressure-relief devices, purpose are available from wood
steam can become trapped and heat retailers. However, you
cause a violent explosion. The don’t need humidification if
hot-water coil or tank must be you see any sign of condensation
safety certified for use with your on windows during cold weather.
stove. If you decide to have a Also, in new, energy-tight houses,
hot-water system installed, get problems can arise from too much
advice from an experienced stove moisture indoors. Experiment to
retailer. Also, make sure that the find the best moisture balance
manufacturer’s instructions for for your home.
installing it are followed exactly.
Such coils may also degrade the
performance of a clean-burning,
advanced combustion appliance,
resulting in high emissions
and creosote.

7 Installation Safety

The safest and most effective

Look for these symbols as your service vehicles and in advertising
wood-heating system consists
assurance of reliable information, materials. When you want reliable
advice and services. information, advice or installation or of a high-efficiency stove or
maintenance services, look for the fireplace certified by the EPA
The Wood Energy Technical or CSA B415.1 and a suitable
Training (WETT) program WETT logo.
modern, certified venting system
is a comprehensive series Similarly, l’Association des
of courses covering instal- professionnels du chauf- sized to match the appliance.
lation codes, proper fage (APC) is certified When such a system is installed
installation, maintenance to provide the same according to the manufacturer’s
and inspection procedures. assurances in Quebec. Look for the instructions and safety codes,
Graduates of the program receive APC logo. it will be as safe as any other
certificates and wallet cards. WETT- home-heating option. At first, it
It is worth getting the job done right
certified retailers can also display the
the first time. Your effort will pay off in will cost a little more than the
WETT logo in their stores, on their
peace of mind in the years to come. older, out-of-date system. But
its higher efficiency and lower
maintenance costs mean you
Support for Safe • a thorough training program
for retailers, installers, chim-
save every year and get a faster
Wood Burning ney sweeps, municipal fire
return on your investment.
Until the 1990s, stoves were not and building inspectors, and When installed and used
tested for safety, and homeown- insurance inspectors (pro- correctly, certified clean-burning
ers had little or no guidance on fessionals in every part of appliances significantly reduce
installation. The result was house Canada have completed the the risk of chimney fires. Their
fires that were avoidable. Today, WETT or APC programs). advanced combustion systems
after years of co-operative efforts burn the smoke inside the
by all levels of government, the Today, wood-heating technology firebox, so less creosote forms
wood-heating industry and and its safe installation are more in the chimney. As a bonus, you
groups such as Fire Prevention complicated. It isn’t safe to sim- save on chimney-cleaning costs,
Canada, several measures are ply hook up a wood stove to an which can be significant for
in place to help you heat with existing chimney and begin conventional systems that need
wood – safely. These safety using it for heating. You should cleaning two or three times each
measures include the following: get reliable advice from a trained heating season.
professional and consider having
• a reliable installation code the wood-burning system profes-
(“CSA B365 Installation Code sionally installed. This way, you
for Solid-Fuel-Burning will get the best performance
Appliances and Equipment”); from the system and be assured
• safety-testing standards for of its safety. Before starting the
stoves, inserts, fireplaces, installation, get a building per-
furnaces, chimneys and flue mit from your municipal office
pipes (almost all equipment and inform your insurance agent
for sale carries a certification of your intentions.
label indicating that it con-
forms to safety tests); and

Product Testing Planning a Don’t Put the Appliance
in the Basement
and Certification Space Heater The basement isn’t usually a
Agencies Installation good place for space heating
These three agencies test wood- If you want your wood-burning unless you are living there.
burning appliances for safety space heater to make a large con- Although some of the heated
in Canada: tribution to your home’s total air from the stove does rise to
heating needs, do some planning higher levels of the house, it
CSA International
before you select the heater and doesn’t do so effectively. And
(formerly the Canadian
decide on its location. Whether usually, in an effort to keep the
Standards Association)
you choose an advanced combus- main-floor living spaces warm,
tion wood stove, a pellet stove, the basement becomes over-
Underwriters’ a high-efficiency fireplace, a heated. This wastes fuel, and the
Laboratories fireplace insert or a masonry constant high firing can damage
of Canada heater, you should consider the stove’s internal components.
the same issues. An unfinished basement with
Intertek Testing poorly insulated walls and floor
Services, Ltd. Put the Appliance is a particularly bad location for
(formerly Warnock Where You Live a wood-burning space heater.
Hersey Professional Choosing the right location for The walls and floor absorb much
Services Ltd.) the space heater may be the most of the heat, which is lost to
important installation decision the outside.
you make. Put the heater in the
Certified appliances carry a label Also, space heaters operating
part of the house that you want to
with the logo of the certification in basements may over-fire or
be the warmest. This is usually the
agency. They are your assurance smoulder without anyone notic-
main floor area – kitchen, living
that the product has been tested ing. Finally, putting a stove in
room and dining room – where
and conforms to safety standards. the basement can cause venting
family members spend most of
As part of the certification their time. By locating the space and indoor air quality problems.
process, the manufacturer’s heater here, you will be warm and The basement is a good location
installation instructions are comfortable while you eat meals for a space heater only if your
checked and approved. They and relax in the evenings. family spends a lot of time in a
must also contain certain basic recreation room there. A base-
information and messages. ment space heater should have
You can rely on these certified its chimney inside the house
installation instructions to be envelope.
accurate. When followed, they
will result in a safe installation.
Look for these logos when
you are shopping for a wood-
burning appliance.

Balance Stove Output Houses of open-plan design with Consider the
With Room Size fewer separations between rooms Chimney Location
The layout of your house can are the easiest to heat effectively The chimney type, location and
affect your choice of an appli- with a space heater. In this situa- arrangement have a lot to do
ance. If the house has small and tion, you can use a somewhat with how effectively a wood-
separate rooms, you probably larger appliance without over- burning system functions. When
can’t heat it well with a single heating the space, and the heat you are planning where to put
space heater. A stove that is too can flow to other rooms. the space heater, consider where
large for the room where it is An experienced wood-burning you can route the chimney. If
installed can make the room appliance retailer is often your possible, avoid running the
uncomfortably warm. A small best source of advice on appli- chimney up the outside wall of
space heater, however, can ance sizing for your home. When the house. A chimney always
supplement your heating needs, you visit a store to look over the works best when it runs straight
while avoiding overheating options, take along the blue- up from the appliance through
the area. prints or a floor plan of your the warm house interior. You
house. This will save time and can learn more about chimney
help the salesperson give you location and performance in
better advice. Chapter 9, “The Chimney.”

Consider Heat


house with many enclosed Distribution
rooms can be hard to heat Whether or not a stove or fire-
with a single space heater. place has an internal fan, the
However, a properly located
small space heater can heat heat from a space heater eventu-
much of the house if there ally rises to the ceiling of the
is a way to move heat to room in which it is located. Heat
other areas.
collecting at this level tends to
flow gradually through open
stairwells to higher levels of the
home. If there is no opening, the
heat can stay close to the ceiling,
while your feet are left cold.
A ceiling fan, slowly circulating

A house with an open air toward the floor, helps

design has few walls to improve the overall effectiveness
separate rooms on the main of the space heater. At the same
floor. You can usually heat
time, it distributes the heat more
it effectively with a wood-
burning space heater, if you evenly throughout the house.
put it in the right place. Fans are particularly effective in
rooms with cathedral ceilings or
in homes without central forced-
air heating systems.

fan on low speed slowly circulates the air in the house and
distributes the heat from the wood stove to other areas.
▲ CAUTION – Never try to use a wood
stove as a central furnace by putting
a hood over the stove and connect-
ing a furnace duct to the hood. This
violates building codes and disrupts
One of the best ways to distrib- operates, the room will not the air-circulating system. It can
ute heat from a wood stove is to become depressurized; this also cause the stove to spill smoke
use the air-circulating fan of a vacuum-type effect sucks air by depressurizing the room. The
biggest danger? The chimney flow
central furnace. By running the out of the house, pulling indoor can reverse, filling your house
furnace fan on low speed, the air air elsewhere. with smoke and posing the risk
is gradually mixed and distrib- of asphyxiation while you and
In any case, most furnace fans your family are sleeping.
uted throughout the house.
use a lot of electricity on low
If you plan to build a new home, speed. A better way is buying a
consider having your heating furnace with a high-efficiency
contractor install extra cold air electronically commutated
return grilles on the wall at ceil- motor (ECM).
ing level in the room with the
Another useful fan is the small
stove. Since the heated air from
accessory fan designed to hang
the stove will rise to the ceiling,
in the upper corner of an open
the grilles don’t need to be close
doorway. It helps move heat
to the stove in order to pick up
down a hallway or into the next
and circulate the heated air
room. Finally, installing grilles in
around the house. It is, however,
floors and walls to allow air to
important to balance the flow of
flow passively into other rooms
air into and out of the room
or levels helps distribute heat
through the ducts and registers.
from a wood stove.
This way, when the furnace fan

Installing Wood • Installation rules for uncerti-
fied stoves are so complicated
You can find guidelines for
installing these uncertified stoves
Stoves that you will need an experi- in the solid-fuel-burning installa-
The guidelines for installing wood enced professional to interpret tion code, CSA B365. The lowest
stoves can be grouped into two them or to install your stove. clearances to combustible materials
categories. The first category is for for uncertified stoves are large –
• The construction quality and
stoves that have been tested and 1200 mm (48 in.) for radiant
convenience features of new
certified as meeting Canadian stoves and 900 mm (36 in.) for
certified stoves are superior
safety standards. The tests deter- stoves surrounded by jackets
to older, uncertified stoves.
mined the lowest clearances and behind which convection air
other installation guidelines for • Uncertified stoves may con- can flow.
the specific appliance. You can stitute a serious fire hazard.
find this information in the man- • You may not be able to
ufacturer’s instructions. All new get insurance, even at a
advanced wood stoves for sale in high rate.
Canada today have been safety
certified, and most insurance
companies will accept only certi-
fied appliances.
The second category is for appli-
ances that haven’t been tested
and certified. These include used
or antique stoves, most stoves
built before the early 1980s and
stoves built by small, informal
welding shops. There are several
good reasons to avoid uncertified
• They are less efficient than
new, certified appliances, so
you will burn more wood to
get the same amount of heat,
which will produce high
levels of smoke and creosote.
• They require larger installa-
tion clearances than new
certified stoves, making them
more difficult and expensive
The manufacturer’s installation instructions specify the right
clearances for the appliance. The clearances for certified appli-
ances vary, but are less than those shown in the following
table (from CSA B365) for uncertified appliances. Many
of the new, certified appliances have heat shields on the sides
and rear, reducing clearances by as much as 90 percent.

Rules for constructing heat
Clearances to Combustible Material for Appliances
Using Solid Fuel
Source: CSA International B365-01, Table 2 • Minimum space between
shield and combustible
Minimum clearance, mm (in.)
material: 21 mm ( 7/8 in.).
Sides, rear Fuelling and ash
Application Top and corner removal side(s) • Minimum clearance along
bottom of shield: 25 mm
Appliances with 1500 (60) 1200 (48) 1200 (48)
(1 in.).
no shielding*
• Maximum clearance along
Appliances with 1500 (60) 900 (36) 1200 (48)
bottom of shield: 75 mm
(3 in.).
* Shielding consists of protection such as external jacketing or a metal heat • Minimum clearance along
shield attached to the sides and rear of the appliance and spaced out at least
top of shield at ceiling:
50 mm (2 in.) by non-combustible spacers, with provision for air circulation at
bottom and top. 75 mm (3 in.).
Note: Clearances shall be measured from the outer surface of the appliance • Shield extension beyond
to the combustible material; a non-combustible covering applied over the each side of appliance:
combustible material shall be disregarded.
45 cm (18 in.).
• Shield extension above
Reduce Minimum convection flow of air when the
appliance: 50 cm (20 in.).
Clearances Safely stove is operating and prevents
Like most homeowners, you the stove’s heat from reaching • Edge clearance for ceiling
probably want your wood stove the wall. (The percentage shown shields: 75 mm (3 in.).
to take up as little floor space as in the table on page 26 is the • Glues used in shield con-
possible. As a result, heat shields amount by which you can reduce struction must not ignite
are often used to reduce clear- the lowest clearance with the or lose adhesive qualities
ances and protect walls and particular shield system listed.) at temperatures likely to
ceilings. Some stove manufac- By using heat shields, you can be reached.
turers offer certified accessory reduce wall and ceiling clearances.
• Mounting hardware must
shields with their products to Clearance-reducing shields are allow full vertical ventilation.
provide reduced wall clearance. made from various materials,
If you aren’t offered accessory • Mounting hardware must not
from simple sheet metal to more
shields for your stove or if you be located closer than 200 mm
decorative brick, stone slices or
want to reduce the clearance (8 in.) from the vertical
ceramic tiles. Although CSA B365
even further, you can buy effec- centre line of the appliance.
allows you to make shields from
tive wall and ceiling shields or solid brick, this isn’t practical • Mounting hardware that
have them built. because they are expensive and extends from the shield sur-
You can safely reduce the clear- hard to build. You can achieve face into combustibles may
ances for both certified and the same visual effect for less be used only at the lateral
uncertified stoves by following money by using brick slices, extremities of the shield.
the rules set out in standard rather than full bricks. In addi-
CSA B365. The common feature tion, shields must be permanently
of the clearance reduction rules mounted to walls – free-standing
is air space behind the shield panels aren’t acceptable as
material. This space sets up a clearance-reducing shields.

Reducing Clearances with Shielding
Source: CSA 365-01, Table 3, Reduction in Appliance and Ductwork Clearance from Combustible Material with Specified Forms of Protection

Clearances may be reduced by these percentages

Type of protection (shield) Sides and rear % Top %
Sheet metal, a minimum of 29 gauge in thickness spaced out at least 67 50
21 mm ( 7/8 in.) by non-combustible spacers
Ceramic tiles or equivalent non-combustible material on non-combustible 50 33
supports spaced out at least 21 mm ( 7/8 in.) by non-combustible spacers
Ceramic tiles or equivalent non-combustible material on non-combustible 67 50
supports with a minimum of 29 gauge sheet metal backing spaced out at least
21 mm ( 7/8 in.) by non-combustible spacers
Brick spaced out at least 21 mm ( 7/8 in.) by non-combustible spacers 50 n/a
Brick with a minimum of 29 gauge sheet metal backing spaced out at least 67 n/a
21 mm ( 7/8 in.) by non-combustible spacers

You can also reduce minimum

clearances by using commercial
shields. They are tested to deter-
mine how effectively they can
reduce clearances. The shields are 45 cm
(18 in.)
certified and carry a label that wallstud
confirms they have passed the
tests and provides details on drywall
clearance reduction. Some com-
mercial shields can be attached spacer
directly to combustible walls 50 cm
(20 in.)
without needing an air space.
wall shield
The first step in reducing clear-
ances is to determine the lowest
clearance, from either the stove
label or the Table of Clearances
for Uncertified Stoves (from the
CSA B365 installation code).
Then calculate the amount the
clearance will be reduced with
the type of shield you plan to
use (from the table on clearance

▲ CUT-AWAY OF WALL SHIELD ASSEMBLY – By allowing air to flow between the

shield and the combustible surface, a wall shielding assembly can safely
reduce minimum clearances. The shield must extend at least 50 cm (20 in.)
above the top of the appliance and 45 cm (18 in.) beyond each edge of the

Channel spacers are the most Protect the floor Uncertified stoves haven’t passed
effective type because they give Certified wood stoves will not safety tests, so heat from the bot-
good support to the shield and overheat a combustible floor. tom may overheat floors or cause
don’t transmit heat through During safety testing, the floor a fire. These appliances have
the mounting hardware to the temperature is checked and must different rules for floor protection,
combustible wall. Metal wall not exceed safe limits. Although depending on the height of the
strapping, available from most the floor won’t overheat during stove legs and any bottom protec-
building supply stores, is made normal operation, you still need tion the stove might have. If
of light steel channels that work to protect it from live embers you are installing an uncertified
well as shield spacers. Note that that might fall from the stove appliance, contact a qualified
the bottom of the channel is as you tend the fire or remove professional for details. Better
notched to allow cooling air to ashes. The floor pad must be a yet, choose a new, certified stove –
enter. The shield must extend durable, non-combustible mater- especially a highly efficient model.
45 cm (18 in.) beyond each edge ial, such as sheet metal, grouted
of the appliance and 50 cm ceramic tile or mortared brick.
(20 in.) above the top of the Floor pads must normally extend
appliance. not less than 45 cm (18 in.) in
front of the loading door and
Parts of the Wood 20 cm (8 in.) beyond the other
Stove Installation sides and the back. Don’t install
A typical wood stove installation the floor pad on a carpet unless
consists of the following compo- the pad is struc-
nents, starting at floor level: turally supported
• a non-combustible floor pad so that it doesn’t
to protect flooring or carpets move, crack
from embers that might or distort.
fall from the stove during
loading or ash removal;
• a wood stove;
• a flue pipe that connects
the flue collar of the stove
to the chimney; and
• a chimney system that pro-
duces the draft that draws
combustion air into the stove
and expels the exhaust gases
to the outside.
Each part of the space heater
system deserves careful attention
during installation in order to ▲ NON-COMBUSTIBLE FLOOR PAD SIZE AND TYPE – The
produce effective heating. floor pad protects flooring from hot embers or ashes
that might fall from the stove as you fill it or tend
the fire. The pad must extend at least 20 cm (8 in.)
beyond the sides and rear, and 45 cm (18 in.) in
front of the loading door. Also, the floor pad must
be a continuous, non-combustible surface. Do not
mount the floor pad on carpet, unless the pad is
strong enough to resist bending or cracking.

Installing flue pipes • Maximum unsupported
Flue pipes carry the exhaust horizontal length: 1 m (3 ft.).
gases from the stove flue collar • Maximum combined change
to the base of the chimney. They in direction: 180 degrees
have been called the weak link (i.e. not more than two
in the wood-burning system, 90-degree elbows).
because they are often improp-
erly installed. As you will see • Minimum upward slope
from the list below, several rules towards the chimney:
exist for safely installing flue 2 cm/m (1/4 in. per ft.).
pipe assemblies. They apply to • The crimped ends (male) of
flue pipes connected to all wood- the sections must be oriented
burning appliances, including toward the appliance.
central heating systems.
• Each joint in the assembly
Flue pipe assemblies should be must be fastened with at least
as short and as direct as possible three screws, including the
between the stove and the connections at the appliance
entrance to the chimney. This flue collar and chimney.
reduces heat loss and promotes
• Flue pipes that are 15, 17.5
a strong and reliable chimney
and 20 cm (6, 7 and 8 in.) in
draft. The ideal assembly rises
diameter must have at least
straight up from the stove flue
24 gauge thickness.
collar and fits directly into the ▲ THE IDEAL SINGLE-WALL FLUE PIPE
chimney without elbows or ASSEMBLY – When the flue gas path • Don’t use galvanized flue
is straight, the system produces a
curves. A straight flue pipe pipes – the coatings vaporize
stronger draft and needs less mainte-
assembly allows the most gas nance than an assembly with at high temperatures and
flow and results in a stronger elbows. The ideal flue pipe assembly release dangerous gases. Use
rises straight from the appliance flue black-painted flue pipes.
draft. Straight assemblies also collar into the chimney. A straight
need less maintenance because single-wall flue pipe assembly needs • The assembly, including the
there are no corners where cre- an inspection wrap or telescopic
elbows, must have allowance
section so that you can install and
osote deposits can accumulate. remove it without having to move for expansion: straight
the appliance. The wrap also allows assemblies should include
some movement for expansion either an inspection wrap
when the flue pipe gets hot.
with one end unfastened
or a telescopic section.
Rules for single-wall flue
pipe assemblies Certified double-wall flue pipe
systems are also available. These
• Minimum clearance from
systems are tested to determine
combustible material:
the minimum clearance at which
45 cm (18 in.).
they can be installed. You will
• The minimum clearance may find the clearance information
be cut in half to 22.5 cm on the labels attached to the
(9 in.) if suitable shielding is pipe and in the manufacturer’s
installed either on the pipe installation instructions.
or the combustible surface.
• Maximum overall length of
straight pipe: 3 m (10 ft.).

The lowest clearances for The two general types of double-
installing certified double-wall wall flue pipes are sealed and
flue pipes are less than those for vented. A sealed double-wall Advanced
single-wall pipes. Also, the maxi- flue pipe retains heat in the Combustion,
mum length of a double-wall flue gases because the air space
pipe assembly may be greater between the inner liner and
than is permitted for a single- outer shell acts as an insulator. Fireplaces
wall pipe. This extra length is A sealed pipe is a good choice for Advanced combustion fireplaces
useful for installations in rooms most installations, particularly are installed within the structure
with cathedral ceilings, because if the assembly must be long or of the house and surrounded by
the distance to the base of if the appliance is expected to combustible building materials.
the chimney may exceed produce low flue gas tempera- The fireplace and its heating
3 m (10 ft.). tures. These pipes can improve flow paths, chimney and other
the draft and reduce creosote components are safety tested
deposits. together as a unit. Therefore, you
can install only the chimney and
Vented double-wall flue pipes
the other components that the
release more heat into the room
fireplace was tested with. No
as the gases flow through, by
general instructions exist for
allowing cooling air to pass
installing such fireplaces; each
between the inner and outer
fireplace design has its own
layers, removing heat from the
installation guidelines, which
inner surface. This can cause too
you can find in the manufac-
much creosote to form and cre-
turer’s instruction manual.
ate a poor draft. You may need
to put the flue pipe a bit closer Once you find an advanced fire-
to a combustible surface. place you like, ask the retailer for
Partially shielded flue pipes, a copy of the installation instruc-
which have a curved shield at tions. Study them at home so
the back towards the wall and you can become familiar with
expose the single-wall liner to the fireplace before making your
the room, are a simple solution. decision. The manual will tell
you about safe clearances,
mantel heights, limitations on
decorative finishing materials
and guidelines for routing and
▲ DOUBLE-WALL FLUE PIPE ASSEMBLIES – installing remote heating ducts.
Certified double-wall flue pipes have Spending some time getting to
a stainless-steel inner liner and a
sealed or ventilated outer shell. They know the product is worthwhile,
cost more than single-wall pipes, even if you plan to hire profes-
but last longer and produce a more sional technicians to install the
stable assembly. You can place dou-
ble-wall pipes closer to combustible fireplace.
materials than single-wall pipes.

A fireplace insert or hearth-mount
The back of the fireplace and stove and its full chimney liner
its heating paths and chimney are, in effect, permanently Masonry Heaters
will be enclosed and out of installed. Usually, you must alter Masonry heaters are entirely dif-
sight once the installation is the structure of the masonry fire- ferent in design, construction and
completed. So it is important place to complete the installation, operation from conventional
to follow the manufacturer’s and it may not be possible to masonry fireplaces. The core of
instructions exactly to ensure return it to its original condition the heater, consisting of the fire-
that clearances are adequate. if you change your mind later. box and heat exchanger, has a
Installing an advanced factory- series of precast components
When an insert or hearth mount is
built fireplace is complicated and made of high-temperature brick
installed in a fireplace, you almost
not a do-it-yourself job – unless materials. They are assembled
always need to extend the hearth
you have plenty of carpentry by a mason and surrounded by
at least 45 cm (18 in.) beyond the
experience and are willing to the finish material (brick, tile
front of the appliance to protect
invest the time to ensure you or stone). The clearances of a
the floor. This hearth extension
get every part of the installation masonry heater from combustible
must be permanently mounted to
just right. A better option is to materials must meet the standards
the floor. Fire-retardant hearth
contract an experienced wood- found in building codes for
rugs aren’t considered adequate
heat technician to install the conventional fireplaces.
floor protection. The installation
unit for you. Someone without specialized
instructions may also specify a
minimum mantel height above training and plenty of experience
Installing the insert. If your fireplace mantel would find it difficult to build a
masonry heater that would per-
is lower, you may need to shield
Fireplace Inserts it so that it doesn’t overheat. form well and last a long time. A
and Hearth- Although installing a fireplace
masonry heater is not only costly
but also a lifetime investment, so
Mount Stoves insert may appear straightforward,
select your heater mason care-
One rule that applies to all it isn’t a simple do-it-yourself job.
fully. Ask for references from
fireplace inserts is that a full, Before installation, the existing
previous customers, and call them
stainless-steel chimney liner fireplace and chimney must be
for their comments. Qualified
must be installed from the insert cleaned thoroughly so that no
heater masons are certified by the
flue collar to the top of the combustible deposits remain.
Masonry Heater Association of
chimney. The liner reduces the Installing the liner can be chal-
North America.
size of the chimney flue to lenging, and the correct materials
match that of the insert collar must be used. The connections
and isolates the flue gas from the to the insert and between liner
masonry structure. This retains sections must be secure, and all
heat and produces a stronger materials must be corrosion-
draft. The liner also makes clean- resistant. Look for a dealer with
ing and servicing easier, since it years of experience installing
can be cleaned from the top of inserts. Professional installers
the chimney, and the deposits know the trouble spots and how
can be removed from inside to avoid future problems.
the insert. With a full liner, you
don’t have to remove the insert
for cleaning, a costly procedure
that can damage the hearth.

Installing may smoke into the house if the
power fails, because there is no
Combination wood-oil, wood-
electric and add-on furnaces are
Pellet-Burning natural draft to draw it outside. the most popular central wood-
Appliances Experienced pellet-stove heating options installed in
You can find the installation installers often recommend basement furnace rooms. The
guidelines for certified pellet- venting the stove vertically up controls and duct systems are
burning appliances in the through the roof. At the least, linked, so the heat distribution
manufacturer’s instructions. they install some vertical rise, system is shared by both energy
The manual provides details so that you have enough natural sources. A certified wood-burning
of clearances, the materials draft to draw the smoke outside add-on furnace can share a chim-
used to vent the exhaust and during a power failure. ney with an oil furnace, provided
the arrangement of vent the chimney is suited for use
Since the exhaust fan puts pellet with a wood-burning furnace.
stove vents under positive pres- However, if coupled with a gas
Almost all pellet stoves use a sure, seal each joint carefully furnace, the add-on must have a
small fan to force the exhaust with high-temperature sealant. separate chimney.
through the venting system, This will prevent fine ash and
so they do not rely on natural soot particles from leaking into All wood-burning furnaces and
chimney draft for normal opera- the room. It is a good idea to boilers must be certified to meet
tion. Also, since the fuel and air have a new pellet stove profes- the CSA International safety test
mixture can be adjusted and set sionally installed and adjusted to standard. Installation details are
once the unit is burning cleanly, burn properly. Annual servicing determined during testing. As a
the fire in a pellet stove is unlikely by the dealer to ensure that the result, the installation rules for
to smoulder and produce creosote. system is reliable is also a good each make and model of central
For these reasons, pellet stoves investment. heating furnace or boiler differ
don’t need the high-temperature somewhat. The specific infor-
chimneys that wood stoves do. mation can be found in the
Instead, they can use a light- Installing Central manufacturer’s installation
weight double-wall pipe called a Heating Furnaces instructions.
pellet vent. Some pellet stoves
can be vented horizontally out
and Boilers If you do decide to go with an
uncertified outdoor boiler, the
When considering central heat-
through a wall, so you don’t installation should be done by an
ing with wood, a reputable
need a chimney. experienced dealer. Get references
heating retailer or contractor is
However, there are some draw- your best source of information and speak to other owners of out-
backs to straight horizontal on available systems and their door boilers before making the
pellet vent installations. First, suitability for your home. Since decision and choosing the dealer.
the vent must be far from win- installing central heating appli- With an installed cost as high as
dows and doors to keep the ances is complicated and requires $10,000, an outdoor boiler is a
exhaust smell from getting into several specialized skills, you big investment. Make sure your
the house – a location that may must hire professionals to do dealer has plenty of experience
be difficult to find. Second, pellet the work. and a good reputation.
stove exhaust fans aren’t power-
ful. If a strong wind blows
against the vent wall, exhaust
can be forced back into the
house. And third, the stove

8 Your Installation Checklist

Before the While the System • Install smoke detectors on or

near the ceiling at the exits
System Is Is Being Installed to the room where the
Installed • Make sure that the manufac-
turer’s instructions are being
appliance is installed. Replace
• Call your municipal building the batteries annually, and
followed exactly. If the consider installing a carbon
department to discuss your
plans and find out if you installer deviates from the monoxide detector.
need a building permit. In instructions, ask why. Any
• Buy a labelled and approved
variation from the installa-
some municipalities, you ABC-type fire extinguisher,
need a permit to exchange tion guidelines should be
and store it near the installa-
an old stove for a new one. reviewed by a third party
tion. Follow the instructions
such as a building inspector.
• Contact your insurance agent on the extinguisher label for
to find out if the installation maintenance procedures.
will affect your policy. Many After the • Read and follow the
insurance companies add sur- Installation manufacturer’s operating
charges to policies on houses
with wood-burning equip-
Is Completed instructions.
• Check the installation to
ment. If you think the quote
be sure that it meets code
is high, shop around –
especially if you are having a
high-efficiency combustion • Have your municipal building
unit installed by a WETT- or fire department inspect the
or APC-certified technician. installation. Some departments
Some insurance companies are reluctant to inspect wood-
reduce or eliminate surcharges heating systems. In some
if the system is installed by cases, these departments will
a certified professional and refer you to a local WETT- or
the appliance is an advanced APC-certified retailer, installer
technology model. or chimney sweep for the
• Make sure the installer has
general liability and errors • Notify your insurance agent.
and omissions insurance. Your insurance company may
send someone to inspect
• Review the installation plans
your installation.
with your retailer, installer
or contractor. Make sure you
understand what is involved
and what all the costs will
be. If you are installing the
system yourself, get advice
from a trained professional
so that you don’t misinter-
pret or overlook any key
safety issues.
• Read the manufacturer’s
installation instructions

9 The Chimney

draws combustion air into the

Modern, efficient appliances need appliance and expels the exhaust
modern, efficient chimneys. The gas outside through the chimney. for Installing
selection, location and installa-
tion of the chimney are as
The hotter the gas compared Chimneys
with the air outside, the stronger 1) Install the chimney within the
important as the type of wood-
burning appliance you choose. A the draft. In this chapter, you house envelope, rather than
properly designed and installed will also learn that a chimney up an outside wall. Chimneys
chimney will provide many years should produce a small amount along an outside wall are
of reliable service and allow your of draft even when no fire is exposed to wind and low tem-
appliance to perform correctly. burning. In fact, some of the peratures; this chilling effect
most serious flaws in chimney can reduce the available draft
performance are revealed when to the appliance and cause
How Chimneys the appliance is not being used. condensation. Outside chim-
neys also tend to create a
Work The chimney’s function is to
produce the draft that draws cold backdraft when no fire is
An effective chimney is an impor-
combustion air into the appli- burning. This allows cold air
tant part of any successful
ance and safely exhaust the gases and odours to enter the house
wood-burning system. Many of
from combustion to the outside. and makes it hard to light a
the reported problems with the
To fulfil this role, the chimney fire without getting smoke in
performance of wood-burning
must do the following: the house. On the other hand,
appliances can be traced to the
chimneys that run up inside
chimney. Knowing how chimneys • isolate nearby combustible
the house benefit from being
work is not only necessary in materials from flue gas heat;
enclosed within a warm envi-
selecting the correct type and • tolerate the high gas temper- ronment. Inside chimneys
designing the installation, but also atures caused by overfiring produce stronger draft and
useful in operating your wood- and chimney fires; accumulate less creosote when
burning system from day to day.
• conserve flue gas heat to a fire is burning. They usually
produce a strong and produce a small amount of
MINIMUM CHIMNEY HEIGHT ABOVE draft, even when there is
consistent draft;
THE ROOF – The top of a chimney no fire.
should be high enough to be • resist corrosion and weather
above the air turbulence caused effects; and 2) Building codes require that
when wind blows against the the top of the chimney
house and its roof. The chimney • be well sealed to prevent extends at least 1 m (3 ft.)
must extend at least 1 m (3 ft.) leakage. above the point where it exits
above the highest point of con- the roof. It should also be at
tact with the roof, and at least
60 cm (2 ft.) higher than any
roof line or obstacle within a hori-
zontal distance of 3 m (10 ft.). 60 cm (2 ft.) minimum 1 m (3 ft.) minimum

3 m (10 ft.)
Chimneys operate on the princi-
ple that hot air rises above cold
air – thus, the hot gas in a chim-
ney rises because it is less dense
than the air outside the house.
The rising gas creates a pressure
difference called draft, which

least 60 cm (2 ft.) higher than wood-heating systems, some
any roof, building or other experienced installers even
Suitable Chimney
obstacle within a horizontal choose a chimney that has a Options
distance of 3 m (10 ft.). These smaller inside diameter than Two general categories of chim-
rules are intended to place the the appliance flue collar. They neys are approved for use with
top of the chimney higher usually do this when the wood-burning appliances: the
than any areas of air turbulence chimney runs inside the house 650°C factory-built chimney
caused by wind. In practice, and is fairly tall. Chimneys and the masonry chimney.
chimneys must sometimes be taller than 8 m (about 26 ft.)
raised even higher than these sometimes produce more draft The 650°C
minimums in order to avoid than the appliance needs, so Factory-Built Chimney
air turbulence caused by a smaller-diameter chimney
nearby obstacles, such as trees doesn’t reduce performance. This type of chimney was devel-
or other houses. Only an experienced techni- oped to withstand the high
cian should decide whether temperatures produced by a
3) The most important factor in chimney fire. It features better
the flue should be smaller
chimney draft is temperature insulation than other factory-
than the appliance flue collar.
difference. If you experience built chimneys to isolate nearby
draft problems, increase flue 5) Taller chimneys produce combustible material from the
gas temperature by doing one stronger draft. A rule of high gas temperatures in the
or more of the following: thumb is that the entire sys- flue when a fire is burning. At
the same time, this increased
tem (from the floor on which
• burn smaller, hotter fires insulation keeps flue gases and
the appliance is mounted to inner flue surfaces warmer. As a
to avoid smouldering;
the top of the chimney) must result, less creosote forms in the
• keep the flue pipe assem- be at least 4.6 m (15 ft.) high. chimney, reducing the risk of
bly as short and straight as Most installations are taller chimney fire significantly.
possible (try not to use than this, but those in cot-
right angles); tages with shallow-pitch
• use a sealed double-wall roofs or in single-storey Specific types of factory-built
flue pipe; buildings with flat roofs may metal chimneys can be used with
not. If you experience draft wood-burning appliances. Wood
• re-line a masonry stoves, wood-burning central
problems with a short sys-
chimney; heating furnaces and some fac-
tem, consider adding to the
• re-install the chimney chimney’s height. However, tory-built fireplaces must use the
inside the house; or if your chimney runs up the 650°C metal chimney, approved
outside wall of the house, to Underwriters’ Laboratories of
• construct an enclosure or
making it taller may not Canada (ULC) standard S629.
chase around an outside
improve draft, because the The 650°C refers to the continu-
extra heat loss cancels out ous gas temperature for which it
4) The chimney flue should be any benefit. is designed; it is higher than for
the same size as the appliance chimneys intended for other
flue collar. In the past, many fuels. Most, but not all, 650°C
chimneys were too large for chimneys have 5 cm (2 in.) of
the appliance they served. But insulation between the inner
bigger is not better when it liner and outer shell.
comes to chimney size. Flue
The 650°C chimneys were devel-
gas flows faster and has less
oped in the early 1980s because
time to lose heat in a smaller
earlier chimney designs couldn’t
chimney flue. In planning
withstand the heat from a

The Masonry Chimney Your masonry chimney will per-
A conventional masonry chim- form better if you build it with
ney consists of a clay tile liner new materials rather than tradi-
surrounded by a structure of tional ones. For example, you
brick, block or stone. Stainless- may wish to specify round flue
steel liners can be installed in tiles instead of the standard
masonry chimneys to correct square or rectangular tiles. Round
internal damage caused by a clay flue tiles with shiplap joints
chimney fire. A qualified chim- are also available. These joints
ney sweep should inspect your give a better fit and help prevent
existing masonry chimney before smoke and moisture from leaking
your wood-burning appliance is into the surrounding masonry.
installed. Alternatively, some brands of
certified stainless-steel chimney
Masonry chimneys that are
liners are now approved for use
built according to the guidelines
in new chimney construction.
found in all building codes may
Specialized, poured-in-place
be used with wood-burning
▲ Factory-built chimney appliances. If you are planning
chimney liners are also available
in some areas. A local chimney
to have a masonry chimney
sweep can tell you if there is a
chimney fire. The 650°C chim- built, get a building permit. And
contractor near you.
ney has better insulation and a make it clear to the mason who
stronger, more corrosion-resis- will be doing the work that the
tant inner liner than the older chimney must conform to the
types. This improved insulation building code.
isolates nearby combustible
materials from high gas tempera-
tures in the flue. The insulation
also makes a chimney fire less
likely to occur. By keeping flue
gases warmer, less creosote forms
in the chimney.
Most new factory-built fireplaces
are approved for use with a spe-
cial metal chimney that has a
25 mm (1 in.) wall thickness,
but has the same upgraded liner
found in the 650°C type. Your
wood-heating retailer can show
you the differences between
these chimney types and which
one you will need. All factory-
built chimneys must have the
proper chimney cap installed to
produce reliable draft, to prevent ▲ Masonry chimney
water from leaking in and to
comply with the manufacturer’s
installation instructions.

One important feature often
missing from masonry chimneys
Unsuitable Unlined Masonry Chimneys –
Masonry chimneys must have a
is a proper rain cap. The name Chimneys liner made of clay tiles, firebrick
may imply that it just keeps Type A Chimneys – This type or stainless steel to be suitable.
rain out of the flue, but it has of metal chimney, used before You can upgrade some old,
another key role – it helps pre- 1983, is not suitable or accept- unlined chimneys by installing
vent smoking and other draft able for wood-burning appliances a certified stainless-steel liner.
problems caused by the wind. under building code guidelines.
Air-Cooled Chimneys – Some
When wind flows down toward This chimney was designed for
decorative factory-built fireplaces
the open top of a chimney, it oil furnaces, which is how it is
are approved for use with chim-
produces a positive pressure mainly used today. Type A chim-
neys that use air flow, instead of
zone. This works against chim- neys cannot withstand the high
solid insulation between inner
ney draft and forces the exhaust temperatures of chimney fires.
and outer layers, to keep the
back down the chimney. Even Type A chimneys normally had a outer surface cool. Never connect
when wind flows horizontally 25 mm (1 in.) wall thickness and wood-burning heating appliances
toward a chimney, its normal were available with either round to air-cooled chimneys, or flue
turbulence can produce pressure or square outer casings. If your gas will cool excessively.
that opposes or increases wood-burning system uses a Type A
chimney draft. Every chimney, chimney, consider upgrading
regardless of its design or materi- to the new 650°C chimney as
als, should have a cap to reduce soon as possible. If it cannot be
wind-related venting failures or changed right away, have your
disruptions. chimney cleaned and inspected
To have your existing masonry by a certified chimney sweep to
chimney checked, your best determine if it is still safe to use.
option is to hire a qualified Deteriorated metal chimneys can
chimney sweep. If you see any be hazardous.
deterioration of the bricks or Bracket Masonry Chimneys –
mortar joints near the top of the The term “bracket chimney”
chimney, dark stains or white refers to masonry chimneys that
deposits on the brick work, rest on wooden or brick supports
pieces of tile or liquid stains at within the wall of a house, rather
the chimney clean-out, or brick than being supported on proper
faces splitting off outside, have concrete foundations. Don’t
the chimney inspected and use bracket chimneys. They
repaired immediately. are potentially hazardous and
Masonry chimneys that have cannot be upgraded to meet
been damaged by a chimney fire, building code requirements. To
or that are too large for your comply with the codes, masonry
appliance, can be re-lined with a chimneys need a foundation
certified, stainless-steel liner. The that extends below the frost
liner can have either a rigid or line, which is a few metres
corrugated flex design. below grade in most of Canada.

Creosote and You can prevent chimney fires.
Have your chimney checked
Chimney Fires for creosote deposits regularly,
When wood burns slowly – as it until you find out how quickly
often does in a conventional, air- it builds up in the system.
tight stove or furnace – it makes Conventional wood heaters can
a smoky fire and produces more produce creosote quickly because
creosote deposits than a quick, they can’t burn the wood as com-
hot fire does. Creosote is a highly pletely as advanced combustion
flammable material. If it ignites designs. In severe cases of smoul-
near the base of the chimney, it dering, it may take only a few
can produce a raging fire that days for enough creosote to build
travels up the chimney, creating up to sustain a chimney fire. The
extremely high temperatures as it new, low-emission wood stoves
spreads. The high temperature burn the wood so completely
can damage the clay liners in a that, when operated properly,
masonry chimney or the metal their chimneys normally need
liner in a factory-built chimney. cleaning only once a year.
Although 650°C chimneys can
Never assume that the chimney
withstand these temperatures,
is clean. Check it regularly to be
the heat causes extreme stress in
sure, especially during the spring
the chimney.
and fall. If you do have a chimney
Chimney fires result from poor fire, have the chimney inspected
firing techniques combined with and repaired, if necessary, before
a lack of maintenance. If unsea- using the system again. A chim-
soned wood (wood that hasn’t ney fire is a clear sign of a problem
been dried enough) is burned with the appliance, the fuel or the
slowly in an old “airtight” heater, way the system is operated. Make
creosote can build up quickly changes to avoid chimney fires in
and the risk of a chimney fire the future.
Using an energy-efficient wood-
When you operate wood-burning burning appliance, coupled with
appliances properly, some cre- good installation and proper
osote may still be deposited, burning techniques, dramati-
but it will be less combustible. cally lowers the chance of a
Instead of the black, tarry, highly chimney fire.
flammable creosote from smoul-
dering fires, proper firing may
create small amounts of soft,
flaky and dark brown deposits.

10 Preventing Smoke, Smells and Cold Hearths

The smell of wood smoke inside Negative Pressure Building codes cover the poten-
your home is a sign that the in the House tial for excessive depressurization
wood-burning system isn’t work- Energy efficiency practices and of airtight new houses. Two
ing properly. Smoke contains new building codes are making options are normally permitted
harmful air pollutants, which new houses more and more to ensure good indoor air quality:
can be irritating or even danger- airtight. The reduced air leakage • installing a make-up air sys-
ous in high concentrations. makes houses more comfortable tem to compensate for the air
Wood-burning systems that are and easier to heat. But it can exhausted from the house; or
properly designed, installed and create problems if you use high-
operated will not spill smoke volume exhausts. For example, • installing a carbon monoxide
into the house. If you have been a powerful downdraft kitchen- detector in the room con-
using proper burning techniques, range exhaust can force more taining the wood-burning
burning only dry wood, and still air out of a new house than system to detect and warn
smell smoke in your home, have what leaks in through its tightly of spillage.
your system inspected. sealed walls. Your wood-heating retailer or
Appliances such as high-grade municipal building department
Three Reasons bathroom or kitchen fans, can explain the local rules.
clothes dryers and central vac-
Why Smoke Spills uum cleaners can cause similar Improper Appliance-
From Wood- problems. When this happens, Firing Technique
One of the most common
Burning Systems the pressure inside the house
reasons for smoke spillage is a
becomes negative compared to
Poor System Design the outside, which works against smouldering fire. A wood fire
Certain design characteristics chimney draft. In severe cases, that is starved for air will smoul-
can make a wood-burning system this pressure draws smoke back der, and the exhaust temperature
more likely to spill smoke. Most down the chimney into the will fall too low to produce
of them result in low flue tem- house. This reverse flow is most enough draft. If you open the
peratures and low draft. For likely to happen as the fire dies loading door during a smoulder-
example, chimneys that run up down to a coal bed, when chim- ing fire, smoke will spill into the
the outside wall of the house ney draft is weakest. room. Even when the loading
lose heat and produce weak door is closed, severe smoulder-
You can avoid negative pressure ing can produce smoke spillage,
draft. Long, single-walled flue
problems in your new home by which can be hazardous when it
pipe assemblies give up too
limiting the number, size and use happens during the night. By
much heat before the gases even
of exhaust fans. Avoid running using the suggestions on proper
reach the chimney. Each 90°
powerful fans such as a down- firing techniques found in
elbow in the flue pipe assembly
draft range exhaust while the Chapter 12, “Burning Wood
restricts and slows down the flow
wood-burning system is operat- Efficiently,” you will be able to
of gases. More than one elbow
ing. If you can’t avoid using the build effective fires and prevent
can restrict the flow enough to
fan, link the exhaust system to smouldering.
cause smoke spillage. Any of
a make-up fan that forces air
these characteristics may or may
into the house to replace the
not cause smoke spillage on its
exhausted air. This keeps the
own. However, when an outside
house pressure close to neutral.
chimney is combined with a
Contact your wood-heating
long flue pipe assembly with
retailer or heating contractor for
several elbows, you will almost
details on make-up air systems.
certainly have smoke spillage.

Does Outdoor Is Your House Some houses act more like
chimneys than others. Two- or
Air Reduce Acting Like a three-storey houses produce more
Smoke Spillage? Chimney? of a stack effect than bungalows
It has been widely believed that An operating chimney is an because they have a taller column
you could reduce or eliminate enclosed column of warm air or of warm air. A house with most
smoke spillage by supplying out- gases surrounded by colder out- of its leaks or open windows at
door air through a duct, either side air. The warm air or gas in the upper levels tends to produce
directly to the appliance’s com- the chimney is more buoyant more of a stack effect because the
bustion chamber or indirectly to than the dense, cold outside air leaks offer a ready path for warm
the room in which the appliance so it rises. This produces the air to escape (like the open top of
is located. However, research draft in the chimney. a chimney). Outside chimneys
shows that outdoor air supplies connected to heating appliances
In winter, your house is also an
may not work. Smoke spillage in the basement can backdraft if
enclosed column of warm, buoy-
occurs at the same level of room the stack effect is strong enough.
ant air creating a form of draft. In
depressurization, whether or not This allows cold outside air – or
effect, the warm air creates higher
an outdoor air duct is installed. smoke and/or carbon monoxide if
air pressures as it pushes toward
The same research shows that there is a smouldering fire in the
the top of the house. At the same
wind effects around the house can appliance – to spill into the house.
time, the pressure in the base-
reverse the flow in these ducts, The stack effect is particularly
ment is lower than the pressure
which may create a fire hazard if troublesome when an appliance
outside. This is why the basement
the duct is connected directly to of a leaky house feels drafty and served by an outside chimney
the combustion chamber. the rooms on the second floor are is installed in a single-storey
Some building codes require that more comfortable – the cold out- section of a two-storey house
you provide wood-burning fire- side air is drawn into the area of (as shown in the illustration
places with outdoor combustion lower pressure. The difference in below). When no fire is burning
air. You must comply with this pressure at various levels of the in the stove, the chimney can’t
requirement, but be aware that house is called stack effect. It produce as much standby draft
performance will not improve. can cause venting problems and as the house produces in the
And take steps to protect com- smoke spillage when it competes stack effect because the chimney
bustible materials around the with a chimney that serves a is shorter and colder.
duct from overheating if the gas wood-burning appliance in the
flow reverses. basement.

PROBLEM INSTALLATION – The wood stove in this house will

likely cause problems. Note that the chimney top is lower
than the ceiling of the second storey – meaning that the
house is a more effective stack than the chimney. Fires
will be difficult to light because the system will produce a
weak draft until the chimney is thoroughly warmed.
Smoke may spill from the stove door when it is opened
for loading wood. And there will be some risk of smoke
spillage as the fire dies down to a coal bed.
You could improve this installation by moving the
appliance and chimney to the wall that is next to
the two-storey section of the house. The chimney would run
inside the house and be protected from the cold. You could
also make it tall enough to clear the roof of the taller section
of the house (without it being unsightly). However, it might
lose a lot of heat if it is too exposed, resulting in flue gas con-
densation, perhaps creosote deposits, along with a poor draft.

You can expect chimney draft
and smoking problems if the
The Cold- Homeowners with installations
that are susceptible to the syn-
wood-burning stove or fireplace Backdraft- drome have found ways to get
in the basement is installed with at-Standby the fire started. For example,
an outside chimney. Avoid this they open a window on the same
form of installation, if possible.
Syndrome level, on the windward side of
If you heat with wood, you may
the house to relieve the negative
Chimneys that run up through have experienced this situation:
pressure. Then they light some
the house and exit at or near the You go to the basement to build
newspaper in the base of the
roof peak can overcome the stack a fire in the wood stove. When
chimney to get enough heat into
effect because they always pro- you open the door to put in the
the flue to produce some draft.
duce a stronger draft than the newspaper and kindling, you are
But this and other techniques
house’s stack effect. Stack effect greeted by a blast of cold air.
only mask the problem; they
is always present in houses, but Then you light the kindling and
don’t correct it.
you can minimize its influence the smoke comes into the room
by installing the chimney inside instead of going up the chimney. To ensure that you never
the house and placing it where experience the cold-backdraft-
This is the “cold-backdraft-at-
it can penetrate the roof near at-standby syndrome, don’t
standby” syndrome. Negative
the peak. combine an outside chimney
pressure in the house produced
with a basement stove. Instead,
by operating a powerful fan like
install the stove on the main
a kitchen exhaust fan can cause
floor where you spend most of
this reverse flow. Most often, it
your waking hours, and use an
comes from the combined effect
inside chimney.
of an outside chimney and a base-
ment location for an appliance.
Here’s how it works. When there
is no fire in the appliance, the air
in the chimney cools to the out-
side temperature. The chimney
produces no draft whatsoever.
The slight negative pressure in
the basement, caused by the
house’s stack effect, is enough
to pull the cold air down the
chimney and out through any
openings in the stove.

11 Maintaining Your Wood-Heating System

Maintaining your wood-burning time to replace the flue pipes, on the outer shell of a metal
system ranges from simple, fre- baffles, catalytic combustor (if chimney, and check for bulges
quent tasks such as removing you have one) or door gaskets – or corrosion in its inner liner.
and disposing of ashes to more and may even be able to do the
When inspecting a masonry
complicated jobs such as replac- work for you when the time
chimney, look for black or white
ing parts that have worn from comes. Your wood-heating
stains on the outer bricks and
usage and heat stress. Regular retailer may also offer sweeping
cracks. Look for missing pieces
upkeep also helps the system and maintenance services.
in the chimney liner as well.
operate efficiently and safely, Summer is a good time to sched- Locate the clean-out door for the
since one of the most important ule maintenance, before you chimney – it is usually in the
maintenance tasks is removing light the first autumn fire. It basement, below the point where
combustible deposits from the can also be done in the spring, the flue pipe enters the chimney
flue pipe and chimney. following the winter wood- (however, in some installations,
Wood-burning systems operate heating season. it is outside the house). Open the
under a variety of conditions dur- clean-out door at the base of
ing each heating season, which the chimney and check for tile
creates the need for many main-
Important fragments and liquid stains.
tenance tasks. In the spring and Maintenance Remove any deposits. Make
fall, heat demand is relatively
low. So slow burning may cause
Tasks sure the door is tightly sealed
Here are the most important
creosote to build up in the flue maintenance tasks to consider Check the condition of the
pipe and chimney more rapidly. as you look over your wood- chimney in hidden spaces –
This is a common problem with heating system. including the attic, wall and
conventional wood-burning
chimney chase areas – where
stoves that can’t burn at low heat Clean and Inspect the corrosion and other deterioration
outputs without smouldering. Chimney and Flue Pipes can occur. Do the most thorough
During the colder months, wood- Check the chimney and flue cleaning and inspection of the
burning systems operate closer to pipes regularly until you deter- system in the spring, just after
their maximum heat output for mine the rate of creosote the heating season is over. Any
long periods, creating stress on buildup. Chimney fires usually deposits left in the system,
internal components. Many occur because users don’t know combined with warm, humid
modern wood heaters have inter- how quickly the deposits develop summer air, may corrode the
nal components, including and neglect to clean them. steel parts. Cleaning and inspect-
baffles and catalytic combustors, Check often and clean off the ing the system in the spring also
that wear out from exposure to creosote when it is visible and gives you time to order replace-
high temperatures. Replace these clinging to the liner surface. Dry, ment parts and do any repairs
components when necessary. flaky deposits are less dangerous before the heating season begins
than black, shiny creosote. Older in the fall. If you see any prob-
One of the best ways to ensure
or smouldering systems may lems during your cleaning and
that your wood-heating system
need cleaning as often as every inspection and aren’t sure how
is safe, clean and effective is to
three weeks. to handle them, have a qualified
hire a trained, insured and certi-
fied chimney sweep to conduct During a maintenance inspec- technician inspect and repair the
a thorough maintenance check tion, check the chimney and flue system before you use it again.
each year. Professional chimney pipes for signs of deterioration.
sweeps will clean the entire Check the flue pipes for corro-
system and report any problems. sion that can weaken the joints.
They might suggest that it is Look for corrosion or rust stains

Adjust Door Tension chimney top again. If you still Maintain Door Glass
Many modern wood heaters have see smoke, remove the catalytic The glass door in a modern
adjustment screws on their load- element and check it. wood-burner isn’t glass at all, but
ing doors. They are designed to Examine the catalytic combustor a transparent ceramic material
keep tension on the door gasket and its mount during your main- that can withstand very high
to prevent smoke leakage. These tenance checks. The combustor temperatures. It is unlikely that
adjustments are usually simple is fragile, so use a clean, soft the “glass” will break because of
and keep the heater working. paintbrush to remove ash dust. heat, but it could be damaged if
Adjust the door, for example, You may see cracks in the honey- struck with a hard object. If you
when you see a haze of soot on comb of the catalyst, but they need replacement glass, visit the
part of the door glass. You will will not necessarily affect opera- store where you bought your
be able to tell where the leak is tion. If pieces are missing, replace stove or fireplace to get the right
from the shape of these streaks the catalyst. A leaking bypass size, shape and material.
of haze. damper seal can dramatically The door glass will need cleaning
increase emissions from a periodically – wait until the
Replace Door Gaskets catalytic stove. Therefore, make appliance has cooled before
and Other Seals sure you check the bypass gasket. cleaning. A damp cloth or paper
Appliance designers use gaskets
The catalyst in a high-efficiency towel should remove any ash
to prevent unwanted air from
wood stove is certified by the dust or light brown stains. For
entering the firebox. Leaky gas-
EPA or CSA B415.1 and is darker, more stubborn stains,
kets reduce efficiency and may
usually guaranteed for up to six buy special stove glass cleaner
disable the combustion system
years. Under heavy use, however, that will not scratch the surface.
of an advanced wood burner.
it may last only one to two Check the special gasket around
Gaskets are located around the
years. If in doubt about when the glass and replace it when it
loading door, the glass panel and
to replace these parts, ask gets worn or leaky.
most ash-pan openings. You may
need to replace some gaskets as your hearth products retailer. Many of the new, high-efficiency
often as once a year; others may stoves feature a forced-air mecha-
be fine after several years of use. Examine Baffle Plates nism that helps to keep the door
Check all gaskets at least once Components inside the glass clean.
a year during a thorough mainte- combustion area of advanced
nance inspection and occasionally wood-burning stoves and fire-
during the heating season. places are exposed to extremely
high temperatures and may dete-
Check and Replace riorate with use. Internal baffles
Catalytic Combustors may last as long as 10 years or
If you have a catalytic stove, you as little as two, depending on
can test the catalytic element’s the design and on how you use
function by watching the smoke the appliance.
as it exits the chimney top. With Internal air channels and tubes
a well-established fire burning, may become disconnected or
open the bypass damper and even fall into the firebox. Correct
observe the top of the chimney – any such change to your stove
you will likely see some smoke. immediately because perfor-
Then close the bypass damper, mance will suffer and other
wait 10 minutes and check the internal components will likely
be damaged.

12 Burning Wood Efficiently

By firing your wood-burning

The Basics: What does, it produces the bright
flames that are characteristic of
system correctly, you improve effi- Happens When wood combustion. If the smoke
ciency and reduce air pollution.
Wood Burns doesn’t burn in the firebox, it
As firewood burns, it goes exits the appliance into the flue
through three phases. pipe and chimney. Here it either
Owners must learn and practise
condenses – forming creosote
the skills needed to operate their Boiling off the water – Up to
deposits – or is expelled as air
wood-burning system effectively. half the weight of a freshly cut
pollution. Unburned smoke also
By mastering the techniques log is water. After proper season-
represents a less efficient appli-
offered here, you will ing, the water content is reduced
ance because smoke contains
• reduce the amount of wood to about 20 percent. As the wood
much of the wood’s total energy.
you need to burn to heat is heated in the firebox, this
Advanced combustion systems
your home; water boils off, consuming heat
are designed to burn the smoke
energy in the process. The wetter
• reduce outdoor and indoor before it leaves the stove, which
the wood, the more heat energy
air pollution from wood is one reason they are more
is used to boil the water. That is
smoke; efficient than older models.
why wet firewood hisses and
• reduce the frequency of sizzles and is hard to burn, The charcoal phase – After the
chimney cleaning; and while seasoned wood ignites water has boiled off and most of
and burns easily. the gases and tars have vaporized
• increase the convenience and
out of the wood, charcoal
pleasure of wood burning. The emission of smoke – As the
remains. Charcoal is almost
wood heats up and passes the
100-percent carbon. It burns
boiling point of water, it starts to
with a red glow and some flame
smoke. The smoke is the visible
or smoke when enough oxygen
result of the solid wood decom-
is present. Charcoal is a good
posing as it vaporizes into a
fuel that burns easily. However,
cloud of combustible gases and
burning charcoal often produces
tars. If the temperature is high
carbon monoxide, a serious
enough and oxygen is present,
indoor air pollutant.
the smoke will burn. When it


Evaporation of water Emission of smoke Charcoal

In practice, all three phases of Next, crumple four
wood combustion usually occur or five sheets of
at the same time. The wood gases newspaper and put
can flame and the edges of the them in the fire-
pieces can glow red as charcoal box. You may need
burns, while water in the core of more newspaper if
the piece is still evaporating. The your firebox is
challenge in burning wood effec- large or your kin-
tively is to boil off the water in dling isn’t dry or
the wood quickly, while making finely split. Many
sure the smoke burns with bright people make the
flames before it leaves the firebox. mistake of using
With the new, advanced combus- too little newspaper
tion designs, two flame zones are – be generous and
often visible: the primary flame you will have more
that rises from the wood and the success.
transparent secondary flame that Hold the paper
swirls above the wood. Once a down with
good fire is established and you ▲ TO BUILD A KINDLING FIRE – Use 10 to 15 pieces of dry kindling.
turn down the air control, you plenty of crumpled newspaper and Softwoods, such as cedar and
dry, finely split kindling. Never use
can see the primary flames slow glossy paper or coloured advertising pine, make good kindling (of
down and become smaller. To get flyers. Open the air control fully. course, use the species available
a clean, efficient burn, make sure Light the newspaper near where the in your region). Place the
combustion air enters the firebox.
that there is always a secondary When a kindling fire is built kindling on and behind the
flame. A welcome feature of properly, you should expect rapid newspaper, so that the combus-
these advanced wood-burning ignition with no smouldering. tion air reaches the newspaper
Never use liquids to start a fire.
designs is that the better the first where you light it. It is also
combustion and the cleaner the The first step in building a fire is a good idea to add one or two
burn, the more interesting the to find out where the combus- small pieces of dry firewood to
flame looks. tion air enters the firebox. In the kindling load before lighting.
most advanced stoves and fire- Open the air control fully, light
Starting a Fire places, some air enters the
firebox through a narrow strip
the newspaper and close (but
You need the following ingredi- don’t latch) the door. When the
ents to build and maintain a above and behind the glass paper is flaming brightly and the
good wood fire: panel. This air wash flows down kindling catches, latch the door.
across the glass to the front of Some appliances have more
• a properly designed and the fire. (It flows downward restrictive air supplies than
installed wood-burning because it is cooler and heavier others, so you may have to
system; than the combustion gases.) leave the door ajar for as long as
• newspapers (do not use Most models also have the 15 minutes – until there is a hot
coloured or coated paper); primary air inlet near the bottom kindling fire and the chimney
front of the firebox, usually just is producing strong draft. Since
• dry, finely split kindling
inside and below the loading leaving the door unlatched or
in a variety of sizes; and
door. This is where you light the open even slightly for extended
• dry cord firewood split into fire, so that it gets plenty of air. periods may cause dangerously
a range of sizes.

high temperatures, NEVER leave paper and close the loading door.
the stove unattended in this The fire will start reliably and
condition. progress to the large pieces of
When starting a wood fire, your wood without any further poking
or adjustment.
goal is to light it once and make
sure the fuel ignites rapidly. There are several advantages
Practise this procedure a few to the top-down fire building
times – you might be surprised at method:
how quickly you can establish a • there is less visible start-up
hot, bright fire. When the flames smoke at the top of the
from the kindling load begin to chimney;
subside, gradually add several
small pieces of wood. Avoid • there is little chance that the
smothering the fire with the new fire will collapse and smother
wood. Place the pieces on and itself; and
behind the burning kindling. • you do not need to open the
loading door to add larger
pieces once you establish the
The suggestions offered here Rake the charcoal toward the front
are general and apply to many kindling fire. of the stove where the combustion
air enters. Place the pieces of wood
wood-burning appliances. However, The top-down fire technique on and behind the coals. Open the
some combustion designs – notably isn’t appropriate for every type air inlet fully and leave it open until
some of the new advanced combus- of wood-burning appliance, but the wood pieces are well charred.
This illustration shows how pieces
tion stoves, catalytic systems and it can be effective in some cases. are arranged for an extended fire.
masonry heaters – may require
special firing techniques. In this With some of the new, high-
case, you should follow any detailed Rekindling a Fire efficiency combustion stoves,
firing instructions in the operator’s from Charcoal you have to alter the procedure
manual that came with your stove In many wood-burning stoves slightly. Read the manufacturer’s
or fireplace. and fireplaces, there will be live instructions and experiment a
coals toward the back of the fire- little. For example, some designs
box, furthest from the air supply,
An Alternative – after the fire has burned down.
require you to make a channel
through the ash pit from front
Building a To rekindle them, first remove to back, underneath the wood.
Top-Down Fire the ashes from the front of the
Once you have added new wood
You may find it convenient firebox, then rake the live coals
to the charcoal, expect it to
to build a wood fire using the forward until they are just inside
ignite almost instantly. The
top-down method. To build a top- the loading door. If only a small
bottom pieces may even start
down fire, reverse the procedure amount of charcoal remains, you
flaming before you get the door
described in the “Starting a Fire” will have to start with kindling.
closed. Allow the fire to burn
section above – that is, place two If you have a good quantity of
with bright, turbulent flames
or three firewood pieces at the glowing charcoal to work with,
until the wood is charred. This
back of the firebox and lean 10 to place the new load of firewood
usually takes between 10 and
15 pieces of kindling against the on and behind the charcoal.
20 minutes, depending on the
logs. Then place several crumpled Open the air inlets fully and
size of the pieces and the mois-
sheets of newspaper on and close the door.
ture content of the wood.
around the kindling. Open the
air control fully, light the news-

When the wood is charred, grad- Firing in Cycles – Don’t expect hold routine. Be cautious about
ually reduce the air setting to the fire to provide perfectly leaving the stove unattended
produce the amount of heat and steady heat output. A wood fire when you are away.
length of burn you desire. You burns best in cycles. A cycle Using a Flash Fire – A flash fire
may want to try reducing the air starts when a new load of wood is a small amount of wood
control setting in two or three ignites from a charcoal bed and burned quickly. Use it in spring
stages. The result will be less ends when that load is consumed
and fall when you just want to
smoke because the fire won’t and becomes another bed. Each
take the chill off the house. The
have to recover from a single, cycle provides three to eight
flash fire technique eliminates
large reduction in air supply. hours of heating, depending on
the smouldering fires that are
Remember the most important how much wood you use, how
common in the spring and fall.
rule: Never let the fire smoulder. much heat you need and how To build a flash fire, rake the
As long as there is solid wood large your firebox is. Plan the charcoal toward the air inlets
in the firebox, there should be firing cycles around your house-
and place several small pieces of
active flames. Without flames,
smoke will escape unburned,
reducing efficiency and increas-
ing pollution. With advanced
systems, you can achieve a
reliable overnight burn while
maintaining flaming combustion
and still have enough charcoal
in the morning to kindle a
new fire.

Other Useful Tips

Arranging the Firewood – Small ▲ A small, loosely stacked fuel load is ▲ A compact fuel load is good for
good for short-duration flash fires. extended firing cycles.
pieces of firewood arranged
loosely in a crisscross pattern
burn quickly because the com-


bustion air can reach all of the
few small pieces of wood for short
pieces at once. Larger pieces in a fires to “take the chill off.” Load
compact pile burn more slowly the wood loosely in a crisscross
because there are fewer spaces for arrangement. Let the fire burn
brightly until most of the solid
the air to penetrate the load. Try wood is burned, then reduce the
to add more than one piece of air setting. Flash fires are effective
wood to a fire – you need three in spring and fall when the heat-
ing load is modest. By using the
or more pieces to form a shel- flash fire technique, you avoid
tered pocket of glowing coals smouldering fires.
that reflect heat toward each
other and sustain the fire.

wood on and behind it. Stack Removing Ashes – Some Using a Thermometer – A ther-
the pieces loosely in a crisscross advanced combustion stoves mometer helps you use your
arrangement. Open the air inlet have ash pans as standard equip- wood burner more effectively,
to produce a hot, bright fire. ment or as an option. Some use particularly if you can’t view the
You may reduce the air supply a simple grate through which fire through glass doors. There are
slightly as the fire progresses, ashes drop into the pan. Others two types of thermometers. One
but never enough to extinguish have a plug in the stove floor has a probe that you put into the
the flames. that, when lifted, allows ashes to flue gas stream through a small
Extending a Fire – To achieve a fall into the pan. Make sure that hole in the flue pipe. The second
longer-lasting fire – to heat the the ash door is well closed and is a magnetic thermometer that
house overnight or while you are sealed. If your stove doesn’t sticks to the outside of the flue
away – rake the coals toward the have an ash pan, ask your local pipe or stove top.
air inlet and use larger pieces of retailer for an ash handler into
Install the probe-type thermome-
wood placed compactly in the which you can scoop ashes
ter in the flue pipe about 50 cm
firebox. Placing the pieces close through the loading door.
(20 in.) downstream from the
together prevents the heat and The ashes may contain live coals exit of the appliance – but never
flame from penetrating the load that can stay hot for days. If you on the appliance. The stack
and saves the buried pieces for don’t dispose of them carefully, thermometer tells you how
later in the burn cycle. Open the they can pose a fire hazard. Place hot the flue gases are.
air inlets fully for five to 20 min- ashes in their own metal con-
The magnetic thermometer, on
utes, depending on load size and tainer and keep that container
the other hand, measures the
fuel moisture content. When the on a non-combustible floor,
temperature of the flue pipe, so
outer pieces have a thick layer of preferably outside the house.
its temperature will be lower than
charcoal, reduce the air control Special double-bottom ash con-
the probe thermometer’s.
in stages to the desired level. tainers – with tight-fitting lids
designed to hold ashes until they Some manufacturers recommend
are cool – are available in stove the use of a stove-top ther-
and fireplace stores. mometer, rather than a stack
thermometer. It works the same
way, but the temperature range
There are many ways to use or
dispose of wood ashes. Some will be different since it measures
people use ashes for traction on the surface temperature of
driveway ice, to control garden the stove.
pests or to reduce soil acidity.
Other people simply bury them.
Rural municipal waste disposal
sites usually have special areas for
ashes. Consider disposing of your
wood ashes in a safe, clean and
environmentally friendly way.

When you fire the stove at a high
temperature to drive moisture out
The Efficient • If the wood is seasoned and
well split, the air settings
of the fuel, use a thermometer to Wood Fire in an are correct and the load is
tell you when you can reduce the Advanced Stove arranged properly, a new load
air supply. Every wood-heating When you master the techniques of wood will ignite rapidly
system behaves differently and for efficient wood burning, here from the charcoal – some
thermometers vary, so there are is what you should see. pieces will be flaming before
no exact temperatures that you the door is closed. If the
• When wood burns, it flames
can follow. However, to avoid appliance has a glass door
until only charcoal remains.
damaging the stove’s internal with an air wash, it will be
(If there are no flames, some-
parts, don’t let the flue gas tem- clear. If the appliance has a
thing is wrong.)
perature rise above 460°C (860°F) glass door without an air
on a stack temperature probe for • If there are firebricks in the wash, it will be hazy, but it
more than a few minutes. Learn firebox, they will be tan, should never be black.
which burning connections result never black.
• The exhaust from the top of
in the stack temperature you • Steel or cast-iron parts in the the chimney will be clear or,
measure. With experience, you firebox will be light to dark in winter, white with steam.
will be able to tell by the ther- brown, never black or shiny. A plume of blue or grey
mometer if you have set the air smoke indicates smouldering
control too low and when you and poor combustion.
should reload.
Advanced combustion wood
stoves do not need thermometers
as much as older equipment
does. You can check the condi-
tion of the fire visually. If the
fire is burning properly, the glass
door stays clear. If the glass
becomes hazy or develops dark
stains quickly, the fire has been
turned down too low or the
firewood is too wet. The glass
should stay clear when the fire
has a higher heat output and
the firewood is of good quality.
Another indicator is the flame
itself. The more complex the
flame, the better the combustion
in the stove.

13 Purchasing and Preparing Your Fuel Supply

The efficiency and convenience hot fires, while larger pieces suit
of your wood-heating system Burning wet wood produces extended firing cycles. In gen-
depend significantly on the qual- more smoke than heat. Dried, eral, the firewood produced by
well-seasoned wood will smoke
ity of the fuel wood you burn. commercial dealers comes in
less and give you more heat.
The four main factors that influ- One way to verify if a chunk of pieces that are larger across than
ence how firewood burns are wood is dry is to look for checks modern wood-burners need. You
moisture content, piece size, and cracks at the ends. A cord may need to split some of the
wood condition and tree species. that has been stacked to dry wood again before using it. The
over one heating season should largest piece of wood for the
The moisture content of the also be dry enough to burn. new, advanced stoves should
wood affects the rate at which it However, if you aren’t sure, you be no more than about 15 cm
burns and the efficiency of com- can test the wood with a mois-
(6 in.) across. You also need a
bustion. When trees are cut, the ture meter. To use it, merely jab
the prongs into a chunk of wood range of smaller pieces for
wood moisture content can
to get a reading. Ideally, the effective stoking.
range between 35 and 60 percent
by weight. Wood that is this reading will be between 18 Another factor that affects how
and 22. You can get a moisture
wet is hard to ignite and slow to firewood burns is the wood’s
meter at some hardware stores
burn. It also hisses and sizzles in for between $35 and $60. You condition. Wood that has been
the firebox. It combusts poorly will also find them at your lying in a swampy area or has
and produces large amounts of hearth products retailer. High- been cut too long ago (more
air pollutants. Energy from the end models, such as those used than three years) will be difficult
burning fire is used to boil off in laboratories, are available for to burn. It tends to look or
the moisture, which reduces around $240. feel rotten.
efficiency. Wet wood is the most
common problem with wood dry wood is checks or cracks in Remember, storing wet wood
heating. If you think you have the ends of the pieces. Properly indoors could create mould
a problem with your stove’s per- dried firewood is darker on the inside the house, so you should
formance, check the dryness of ends than freshly cut wood and limit the amount of wood that
your fuel first. Properly seasoned weighs much less. you store inside.
wood ignites readily, flames
The size of the firewood pieces Store two or three days’ supply
easily and burns efficiently.
affects the rate of combustion. of wood indoors, making sure
Cut and split firewood in the Large pieces ignite and release that it is clean and dry. In
early spring. Stack your wood their energy more slowly than winter, when you bring wood
outside. It dries best if you keep small pieces. Smaller, more finely directly in from the cold
it off the ground and covered. split pieces are better for short, outdoors and immediately load
Allow room for the air to flow it into the appliance, it may
under the stack and to circulate initially cool the fire and prevent
between the pieces. During the proper combustion.
summer, as warm breezes flow
through the stacks and carry
away the water, the moisture
content of the wood falls to
about 20 percent. One sign of

▲ Look for checks and cracks at

the ends.

Several tree species are used for do not use too much wood of
firewood, and those you choose one species as your primary
Buying Firewood
will affect your wood-burning fuel source.
system. Below is a list of the tree When you support woodlot own-
The energy content of wood per ers who manage their lots
species commonly used for fire-
dry kilogram (i.e., per unit of responsibly, thereby providing a
wood, according to their relative sustainable mix of trees, you help
weight) is similar regardless of
densities. Trees at the top of the ensure that wood remains a
species. However, the energy
list have the hardest wood and renewable energy source for
output from each piece of wood
the most energy per cord, while home heating.
(weight per unit volume) of
those toward the bottom of the
various species differs widely.
list are the softest and have the Try to buy your wood from
Wood is generally sold by volume
least energy per cord. Regardless someone who uses good
(cords), which means the energy
of where you live and what forest management practices.
per cord can differ widely among
species are available, try to mix Environmentally sound woodlot
different species of wood. In gen-
the load as much as possible. management involves thinning
eral, hardwoods like maple, oak
This will ensure that you out dying and damaged trees and
and beech are denser and have
less desirable species. To support
more energy per piece than soft-
sustainable forestry practices, use
woods such as pine, spruce and
wood from a blend of species;
cedar. Softwoods and hardwoods
burn the softer woods – such as
Density of Common tend to burn differently due
pine, poplar and aspen – in the
Firewoods to differences in density and
spring and fall. This way, you
Here is a list of the tree species resin content.
help ensure that wood remains
commonly used for firewood.
In most cases, when and where a renewable energy source for
Those at the top of the list are
hardest and those toward the bot- it is available, hardwood is the home heating.
tom of the list are the softest. preferred firewood because it
tends to produce a longer-lasting
Try to mix your wood species as
HARD burn. Softwood can also be used much as possible so that you use
Ironwood successfully for fires, even in hardwoods and softwoods when
Rock elm some of the coldest areas of the they are available. Using a mix of
Hickory species helps maintain the forest’s
country. Softwoods are also by
Oak natural diversity.
Sugar maple far the most common trees on
Beech Canada’s coasts and northern How is firewood measured for
Yellow birch areas. If you use softwood, you sale? As stated in Measurement
Ash may need a wood stove with a Canada’s official brochure Buying
Firewood? Don’t Get Burned!,
Red elm larger firebox to handle the most firewood in Canada is sold
Red maple larger volume needed for the by the cord.
Tamarack same amount of heating power.
Douglas fir How do you know when a cord is
Even in areas where hardwoods a cord? A cord is a legal
White birch
Manitoba maple are plentiful, softwood is a good unit of measurement defined by
Red alder fuel in the spring and fall when the Weights and Measures
Hemlock the heat demand is lower. The Regulations as 3.62 m3 (128 cubic
Poplar new high-efficiency stoves and feet) of stacked roundwood
Pine (whole or split, with or without
fireplace designs burn both hard-
Basswood bark) containing wood and air-
wood and softwood equally well. space with all bolts of similar
length piled in a regular manner
with their longitudinal axes
SOFT approximately parallel.

Firewood Cords measure a few pieces to deter- Tips for Buying Wood
Firewood is measured and sold in mine an average length. If the When ordering firewood
units called cords. A full cord dealer doesn’t price the wood in When ordering your wood, ask
measures 1.2 ✕ 2.4 ✕ 1.2 m the standard full-cord measure, the dealer what kind of wood it
(4 ✕ 8 ✕ 4 ft.) and is the official convert the price to this is and how the cords are mea-
firewood measure. However, long basic unit. sured so that you aren’t surprised
lengths, such as 1.2 m (4 ft.), are Three examples are provided when the truck arrives. Also, ask
usually cut into smaller pieces on page 52 to illustrate the for the wood to be delivered
for home heating. Other terms – conversion. stacked in the truck, so you can
such as face cord, stove cord or measure it before it is unloaded.
furnace cord – are used to If possible, avoid buying fire- If this isn’t possible, stack the
describe a stack of wood measur- wood in units that can’t be firewood immediately following
ing 1.2 ✕ 2.4 m (4 ✕ 8 ft.), with converted to the standard full delivery. Measure the length,
the length of the pieces shorter cord. For example, truckloads of width and height of the stack,
than 1.2 m (4 ft.). Firewood is wood are difficult to measure so and calculate the quantity that
most often sold in face or stove you could be overcharged with- you received.
cords made up of pieces 30 or out knowing it. Measurement
Canada’s brochure Buying When receiving the firewood
40 cm (12 or 16 in.) long.
Firewood? Don’t Get Burned! Be present when the wood is
These various cord measures highlights some precautions you delivered. Don’t rely on a neigh-
can be confusing. If you want can take when you receive your bour to accept delivery on your
to compare prices from several wood, to ensure that you are get- behalf. When the wood arrives,
suppliers, take a tape measure ting the amount you paid for. take the time to randomly
to each dealer’s yard and examine some pieces in front of

What to burn?
• Clean, dry wood
• Properly seasoned,
split wood
• A mix of hard and soft
wood, where possible,
depending on what is
available in your region
• Wet or green wood
• Household garbage
such as plastic or
• Painted or stained wood
• Pressure-treated wood
• Particleboard or plywood
• Ocean driftwood
• Glossy magazines
• Any materials prohibited
by local by-laws
▲ THE FIREWOOD CORD – Firewood is measured in cords. A full cord measures 1.2 m
✕ 2.4 m ✕ 1.2 m (4 ft. ✕ 8 ft. ✕ 4 ft.). Many firewood dealers sell partial cords
called face or stove cords. Pictured are three face cords with pieces measuring an
average of 40 cm (16 in.). Together, these three face cords make up one full cord
and should equal 3.6 m3 (128 cubic feet).

Where to Get Firewood
Example 1 Example 2 You can usually find firewood
Woody Cutters sells a face cord The Charlebois Sugar Bush sells
for $55. You find that the pile is a stove cord for $45. The pile dealers listed in the Yellow Pages
1.2 m (4 ft.) high and 2.4 m measures 1.2 m (4 ft.) by 2.4 m of the telephone directory or in
(8 ft.) long, with an average (8 ft.), with an average length of the classified ads of your local
length of 40 cm (16 in.). To find 30 cm (12 in.). To determine the newspaper. Better yet, get a
the price for a full cord, divide the price for a full cord, the following referral from neighbours who
imperial length of the logs calculation is used: purchase firewood.
(16 in.) into the full cord length (48 [full cord length]
(48 in.), then multiply it by the You may be able to get a fuel
÷ 12 [average chunk length])
price, as follows: ✕ $45 (price of stove cord)
wood permit to cut the trees
(48 [full cord length] yourself from the local office of
= $180 (price of full cord). your provincial or territorial nat-
÷ 16 [average chunk length])
✕ $55 (price of face cord) Therefore, the Charlebois Sugar ural resources ministry. Sawmills
Bush sells firewood for $180 per may also have cut-offs, slabs and
= $165 (price of full cord).
full cord. cull logs that they sell as fire-
Therefore, Woody Cutters sells
wood. You will still have to cut
firewood for $165 per full cord. Know your wood, and make the wood into pieces, so that
sure it is dry if you’ve paid they fit into your stove properly.
for seasoned wood If you fill the stove with too
Example 3 Although you may not be an much wood without leaving
The Cut Above Woodlot sells expert on various tree species, enough space around the pieces
a 1.2 m ✕ 2.4 m ✕ 45 cm make an effort to learn about the for good air and fire circulation,
(4 ft. ✕ 8 ft. ✕ 18 in.) furnace species in your area. Therefore, if you won’t get an efficient fire.
cord for $75. To determine the you are expecting to receive a
price for a full cord, the calcula- One way to save money is to buy
certain species, you can identify
tion is as follows: logs from a local woodlot. Seek
it. Moreover, if you are paying a
(48 [full cord length] out one that is known to practise
premium to make sure the wood
÷ 18 [chunk length]) sustainable forest management.
has already been seasoned, look
✕ $75 (price of furnace cord) Unprocessed logs usually mea-
for checks and cracks at the end
= $200 (price of full cord). sure 1.2 to 2.4 metres (four to
of pieces or jab a few pieces with
eight feet) in length. You will
Therefore, the Cut Above Woodlot your moisture meter.
sells firewood for $200 per full need a chainsaw to cut the logs
Before using any firewood to length and a splitting ax or
Verify that the quantity received maul to split the wood into the
is the same as the quantity that right size of pieces.
the delivery person to make sure you paid for. If there is a differ-
the load isn’t rotten. Then make ence, contact the seller before
sure that you get a receipt which you use any of the firewood. If
shows the quantity and type of the quality of the wood is ques-
firewood purchased; the seller’s tionable – if it is rotten, mouldy
name, address and telephone or soaking wet – you aren’t
number; and the price paid. getting your money’s worth.
Buying Firewood? Don’t Get
Burned! is available on-line at

How Much is Enough? Are wood pellets the pellet coating to crack, leav-
Only experience can tell you how ing you with miniature handfuls
much wood you will need for a your fuel source? of sawdust.
heating season. A medium-sized Buying wood pellets
modern home, if heated exclu- You can purchase bags of wood
Buying and storing
sively with wood, requires pellets in the seasonal section of
pellets made of corn
between three and five full cords large home improvement stores
and corn kernels
per winter – or more if the house Some stoves are fuelled by corn
or at local hardware stores. You
isn’t energy efficient. On the other pellets or corn kernels, which
can often buy wood pellets
hand, the same house with a may be more difficult to find.
through agricultural co-ops.
high-efficiency combustion wood Corn-burning stoves have not
The bags come in several sizes;
stove that is properly located in been rated for energy efficiency
the most common is 18.1 kilo-
the main living area might use or smoke emissions, and some
grams (40 pounds), which may
only one or two full cords. You insurance companies will not
cost between $4 and $6. You can
need more wood if your area is insure them. If you use a corn
have bulk orders delivered on
very cold; if your house is large, stove, you still must keep the
a wooden pallet for a delivery
leaky or poorly insulated; or if you fuel dry. Corn pellets and kernels
charge. Ask your dealer where
only use softwoods. may be available through an
the pellets were stored over the
agricultural co-op.
Properly stored firewood will last winter. If they were stored out-
for more than one year, so buy a doors, make sure that the pellets
Reuse and recycle
little extra if you can find good that you purchase are dry, or else
your pellet bags
quality wood at a reasonable you will be paying for mushy
The pellets come in poly bags
price and if you have a place to sawdust which you can’t use
that can be easily reused and,
store it outdoors. in your stove.
in some cases, recycled. Your
If your pellet stove is your municipality can confirm which
Remember, storing wet wood home’s primary or secondary disposal method is the most
indoors could create mould heating source, make sure that environmentally friendly for
inside the house, so you should you have enough bags on hand your area.
limit the amount of wood that
before the heating season begins.
you store inside.
Storing wood pellets
Wood pellets are simply com-
pressed pellets of sawdust, so
you must store them in a dry
area, where they will not take on
moisture or bugs. You can store
bags of wood pellets in the base-
ment or an attached garage,
but they should be kept off the
ground, preferably on the pallet
on which they are delivered.
Stack them so that the pile won’t
topple over when you reach for a
bag. Pick a spot to pile your bags
and leave them there. Excessive
handling of the bags could cause

14 Comparing Annual Heating Costs

You may want to calculate the

Table 1: Energy Content and Local Price of Various Fuels
cost of using wood fuel com-
pared with conventional fuels Fuel Energy Content Your Local Price
such as oil, natural gas, propane Oil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38.2 MJ/litre ______/litre
or electricity. The procedure
outlined here can provide rea- Electricity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.6 MJ/kWh ______/kWh
sonably accurate comparative Natural Gas . . . . . . . . . . . . 37.5 MJ/m3 ______/m3
costs. You will first need to find
Propane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25.3 MJ/litre ______/litre
out the cost of the fuels in your
area that you want to compare. Hardwood (air dried) . . . . . 30 600 MJ/cord ______/cord
Softwood (air dried) . . . . . . 18 700 MJ/cord ______/cord
Step 1. Mixed Hardwood (air dried) . 25 000 MJ/cord ______/cord
Determine the Wood Pellets . . . . . . . . . . . 19 800 MJ/tonne ______/tonne
Price of Energy
Sources in Step 2. Select the figures, you can calculate the
savings you can achieve by
Your Area Type of Heating upgrading an older system to
Call your local suppliers to find
out the average cost of the Systems You Wish a new, more efficient appliance
and/or by changing to a different
energy sources you are compar- to Compare energy source.
ing. The cost should be the total Choose the types of equipment
cost as delivered to your home. you want to compare from
Be sure to get the prices in the the list of systems in Table 2.
same units for the energy Seasonal efficiency figures for the
sources, as shown in Table 1. equipment are in the right-hand
Note that the figures for firewood column. Using these efficiency
are for full cords (1.2 ✕ 2.4 ✕ 1.2 m,
or 4 ✕ 8 ✕ 4 ft.). Often, you will Table 2: Typical Seasonal Heating System Efficiencies
be quoted the price for a face or
stove cord, or one third of a full Fuel Type of System % Efficiency
cord. If so, multiply by three to
Oil Conventional Burner 60
get the price for a full cord. The Retention Head Burner 70–78
energy content figures are in met- Advanced Mid-Efficiency Furnace 83–89
ric units called megajoules (MJ).
Electricity Central Furnace or Baseboard 95–100
Natural Gas Central Furnace – conventional 55–65
– powered exhaust 75–82
– condensing 88–96
Propane Central Furnace – conventional 55–65
– powered exhaust 76–83
– condensing 85–93
Wood Central Furnace 45–55
Conventional Stove (properly located) 55–70
“High Tech” Stove (properly located) 70–80
Wood Pellets Pellet Stove 55–80

Step 3. Choose From the list in Table 3, select
the city and housing type that
Housing Type and are closest to yours. The heating
Annual Heating loads are in metric units called
gigajoules (GJ).
Table 3: Typical Annual Heating Loads in Gigajoules (GJ)
for Various Housing Types in Canadian Cities
Old New New Semi- New
City Detached Detached Detached Townhouse
Victoria/Vancouver 85 60 45 30
Prince George 150 110 80 60
Calgary 120 90 65 50
Edmonton 130 95 70 55
Fort McMurray/
Prince Albert 140 105 80 60
Winnipeg 130 90 70 50
Whitehorse 155 115 85 60
Yellowknife 195 145 110 80
Thunder Bay 130 95 70 55
Sudbury 120 90 65 50
Ottawa 110 75 55 40
Toronto 95 65 45 35
Windsor 80 55 40 30
Montréal 110 80 60 45
Québec 115 85 65 50
Chicoutimi 125 90 70 55
Saint John 105 75 60 45
Edmundston 120 90 65 50
Charlottetown 110 80 60 45
Halifax 100 75 55 40
St. John’s 120 85 60 45

Note: “New” means houses built after 1990, and “old” means houses built before
1990. Due to construction practices, weatherizing and re-insulating (which can be
different from house to house), these figures are meant to be used only as general
guidelines; they should not substitute for an accurate heating requirement deter-
mination, as discussed in Chapter 6.
New townhouse – inside unit, approximately 93 m2 (1000 sq. ft.)
New semi-detached – approximately 139 m2 (1500 sq. ft.)
New detached – approximately 186 m2 (2000 sq. ft.)
Old detached – approximately 186 m2 (2000 sq. ft.)

Step 4. Using Sample
the Formula Calculations
Calculate the annual heating
cost as follows:
Example 1
The Burnett family has just
built an open, detached home
Energy cost/unit Heat load Approximate annual
✕ ✕ 100 000 = in Charlottetown, Prince Edward
Energy content System efficiency heating cost
Island. They are thinking
about buying a new, 83-percent
Enter the cost per unit of energy efficient oil furnace. They want
and divide it by the energy con- to determine whether it will be
tent of the fuel (both figures come less expensive to heat the house
from Table 1). Select the annual with a high-efficiency advanced
heating load for your location and combustion wood stove at
housing type from Table 3, and 70-percent efficiency than with
divide it by the efficiency of the their good oil furnace. Oil costs
proposed heating system from 45 cents a litre and mixed hard-
Table 2. Multiply the results of wood costs $160 per cord.
these two calculations, then
• from Table 3, for a new
multiply that result by 100 000.
detached house in
When doing this calculation, Charlottetown, annual
verify the fuel costs in your heating load = 80 GJ
area, as prices may vary. Also,
• from Table 1, energy content
the energy consumption of
of oil = 38.2 MJ/L and
your particular house may be
energy content of wood =
significantly different from
25 000 MJ/cord
the nominal houses in Table 3.
The annual cost of oil heating
with a seasonal efficiency of
83 percent would be
(0.45 ÷ 38.2) ✕ (80 ÷ 83)
✕ 100 000 = $1,135.
The annual cost of wood heating
with a seasonal efficiency of
70 percent would be
(160 ÷ 25 000) ✕ (80 ÷ 70)
✕ 100 000 = $731.
In this example, if wood dis-
placed all of the oil previously
used for heating, the Burnetts
would save $404 per year
($1,135 – $731).

Example 2 Example 3
The Laurin family lives in an old, The Tran family lives in an old
detached, relatively open-plan house in Prince George, British
house in Sudbury, Ontario. They Columbia. They have an annual
presently heat their house with heating load of 150 GJ. They are
electric baseboards at a cost of trying to decide whether to heat
eight cents per kilowatt hour the house with an efficient,
(kWh). What would it cost them direct-vent, freestanding propane
to heat with a high-efficiency fireplace at 72-percent efficiency
advanced combustion wood or an advanced combustion
stove with an efficiency of wood fireplace at 70-percent
70 percent? The cost of a full efficiency. Propane costs 59 cents
cord of hardwood is $150. per litre and a full cord costs $110.
• from Table 3, annual heating • from Table 1, the energy con-
load = 120 GJ tent of propane is 25.3 MJ/L
• from Table 1, energy content • the energy content of soft-
of electricity = 3.6 MJ/kWh wood is 18 700 MJ/cord
and energy content of
The annual cost of heating
wood = 30 600 MJ/cord
with propane would be
• seasonal efficiency of
(0.59 ÷ 25.3) ✕ (150 ÷ 72)
electricity = 100 percent and
✕ 100 000 = $4,858
seasonal efficiency of
wood = 70 percent The annual cost of heating with
wood would be
The annual cost of electric
heating would be (110 ÷ 18 700) ✕ (150 ÷ 70)
✕ 100 000 = $1,260
(0.08 ÷ 3.6) ✕ (120 ÷ 100)
✕ 100 000 = $2,667. Therefore, it would cost the
Trans $3,598 ($4,858 – $1,260)
The annual cost of wood heating
less per year to heat their house
would be with wood instead of propane,
(150 ÷ 30 600) ✕ (120 ÷ 70) given the fuel prices chosen.
✕ 100 000 = $840.
In this example, if the high-
efficiency wood stove displaced
all of the electricity previously
used for heating, the Laurins
would save $1,827 per year
($2,667 – $840).

15 The Future of Residential Wood Heating

The demand for environmentally Conventional fireplaces, once As the cost of heating homes
acceptable energy alternatives common in Canadian homes, with fossil fuels and electricity
should ensure that wood heating are declining in popularity. Their continues to rise, advanced
will play an integral part of our low efficiency, high levels of wood burning offers an effective
energy mix for the foreseeable pollution, limited use and often alternative. In the future, more
future. Many Canadians like severe functional problems out- Canadians – especially those
you who use renewable energy weigh any claims to aesthetic living at the urban fringe and
sources to heat their homes want appeal. In their place, energy- beyond – will return to Canada’s
to make sure that these sources efficient and low-emission original source of fuel. Installing
will remain sustainable. As well, wood-burning fireplaces and an advanced technology wood
they usually support model inserts with their beautiful stove, fireplace or insert in the
forest management practices. fire-viewing capabilities will primary living area may reduce
Moreover, with more highly become the accepted standard. the need to directly heat unoccu-
efficient combustion technolo- These new fireplaces are as pied parts of our homes. As we
gies in homes – technologies that practical as they are attractive – better understand the environ-
produce more heat with fewer something that can’t be said mental and social costs of
pollutants – residential wood of older, conventional fireplaces. energy, the move to renewable,
heating is expected to remain a efficient and self-reliant wood
safe, clean and efficient home- will make more sense for many
heating option in the future. Canadians.
Wood stoves have evolved signif-
icantly since the late 1980s, and
they are now cleaner-burning,
easier to use and provide better
environmental performance. As
we understand more about effi-
cient wood-burning techniques
and the need to reduce smoke
emissions, wood heating will be
among the methods for improv-
ing Canada’s energy security.
More Canadian families will
enjoy the benefits of advanced,
certified clean-burning wood

For More Information

Heating your home with wood

requires a serious investment.
For more information or tips on Information
home heating with wood, con- Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association of Canada • Your municipal office for
an International Affiliate of HPBA

sult the following wood-heating building inspection and fire

Hearth Patio and inspection
Barbecue Association of
Canada (HPBAC) • Your provincial or territorial
Fuel Wood To find out more about hearth fire marshal’s office
• Provincial and territorial products or to locate qualified • Fire Prevention Canada
ministries of natural industry professionals, look for (1 800 668-2955 or
resources, energy or this logo in telephone directories. http://www.fiprecan.ca).
environment. Tel.: (705) 788-2221
• Your local telephone E-mail: hpac@on.aibn.com
directory, under “Firewood.”
• Classified ads in your local
Wood Energy
Association des Technology
professionnels Transfer Inc.
• Word-of-mouth recommen- du chauffage 365 Bloor Street East
dations of owners who (APC) Suite 1807
manage environmentally Toronto ON M4W 3L4
sound woodlots. C.P.170, succursale Beaubien Tel.: 1 888 358-9388
Montréal QC H2G 3C9 Web site: http://www.wettinc.ca
Tel.: (514) 270-4944
Products and Fax: (514) 270-5488
Services E-mail: apc@poelesfoyers.ca Consumer Tips
• Your local telephone The Wood Heat
Contact the APC for fact sheets
directory, under “Chimneys,” Organization Inc.
and other information on wood
“Chimney Cleaning,” 410 Bank Street, Suite 117
heating in Quebec.
“Heating Contractors,” Ottawa ON K2P 1Y8
“Fireplaces and Wood Tel.: (613) 757-2290
Stoves – Retail.” Fax: (613) 757-0277
CSA International
• Visit your local hearth Web site:
178 Rexdale Boulevard
products store. http://www.woodheat.org
Toronto, ON M9W 1R3
• Hearth Patio and Barbecue A comprehensive database on
Contact CSA International for
Association of Canada or frequently asked questions is
copies of standards mentioned
Association des profession- available on the Wood Heat
in this guide.
nels du chauffage. Organization’s Web site.

Publications For additional copies of A Guide
to Residential Wood Heating or
on Residential other publications on energy
Wood-Heating efficiency, write to
A Guide to Residential Wood Energy Publications
Heating is part of a series of DLS
buyer’s guides for renewable Ottawa ON K1A 0S9
energy systems for residential Tel.: 1 800 387-2000
use. Other documents on resi-
In the National Capital Region,
dential wood heating include
call 995-2943
the following:
Fax: (819) 994-1498
• All About Wood Fireplaces
• An Introduction to Home
Heating With Wood
• Buying a High-Efficiency
Wood-Burning Appliance
Canada Mortgage and
• Getting the Most Out of Housing Corporation
Your Wood Stove Canadian Housing
Information Centre
Visit the Renewable and 700 Montreal Road
Electrical Energy Division Ottawa ON K1A 0P7
(REED) Web site for these Tel.: (613) 748-2367
on-line publications or others Fax: (613) 748-4069
at http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/redi. For a copy of Buying Firewood?
Call 1 800 387-2000 toll-free Don’t Get Burned!, contact
to get your copies of these Measurement Canada, an
free guides. Industry Canada agency, at
Call the ministry of energy
or natural resources in your
province or territory.

Burn it Smart!
Enjoy the fire, not the smoke.