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Cantilever a stove/fireplace off the side of a house?

We are designing an 850 sq foot house plus loft for climate zone 4A, western nc, and will be trying to do a pretty good house, sealed and insulated all around, including underneath as it will be on piers on a sloped lot.
The area has experienced extended weather related power outages in the past, and so a non- electrical back-up heating source is needed as an adjunct to the ductless mini split we will be installing.
As we have a wooded lot, a wood stove seems to be the best option, but we don't really like the idea of the thermal problems with chimneys and backdrafts, etc. Also don't like the cost of good quality sealed stoves, or the possible lack of combustion air.
Has anyone ever built a fireburner of some sort in an adjacent chamber that could be opened to the living room only when needed? Like behind a sealed and insulated partition, perhaps similar to the old inglenooks, but one that could be shutoff from the house?
Does this sound totally wacky? Kind of like having our cake and eating it too?
We are highly capable DIYers and builders/ designers, and so could tackle any fabrication.

Asked by Marla Umhoefer
Posted May 3, 2014 2:43 PM ET


5 Answers

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You are highly capable. Build it. Post pictures. Work out the details. Improve it as you go.

Get it done Marla. You have my permission.

Edit: David Meiland has given you a very good alternative. Myself I would do David's plan. But experimenting is also a passion of mine and sounds like it is for you.

Answered by aj builder, Upstate NY Zone 6a
Posted May 3, 2014 6:59 PM ET
Edited May 4, 2014 1:54 PM ET.


Doesn't make sense to me to go to that sort of trouble. Spring for a cool-looking cast iron woodstove with an outside air connection and install it in your living room with a metal chimney system. Locate it near the center of the house if possible. Make the chimney nice and tall and without elbows. Install a duct for combustion air to the firebox through the floor. Put your extra construction energies into a handsome two-cord woodshed somewhere near the house, bearing in mind the workflow of dropping off logs, cutting them into rounds, and splitting/stacking.

Yes, there is a bit of air leakage via the duct connection to the woodstove, but in my house it's inconsequential and the benefits of having the stove greatly outweigh the cost. You'll probably use it a lot more than you think, once you realize how nice it is to have. I like mini-splits just fine but would rather get my heat from wood, at least in the evening.

Answered by David Meiland
Posted May 4, 2014 12:45 PM ET
Edited May 4, 2014 12:47 PM ET.


At "pretty good house" envelope performance most wood stoves are going to roast you right out of there.

A DIY high-mass "rocket stove" type masonry heater probably makes more sense since the burns can be short, intense & high efficiency, but distributing the heat over several hours. But that requires a bit more engineering if you're going to cantilever it. There is a lot of info on DIY rocket stove heater designs out on the web, many of which include how to incorporate them into a "warming bench" or kitchen island counter or some other built-in high surface area feature that has other uses than merely the heat radiator, eg:




Most rocket-stove mass heater builders are using them for primary heat, not backup, and in not-so-superinsulated houses, but they are scalable. The key thing is to have sufficient surface area and thermal mass that the surface temperatures are never uncomfortable, and won't over heat the house.

Answered by Dana Dorsett
Posted May 5, 2014 11:41 AM ET


Wow this site is really haunted! Lots of paranormal activity...
But now that I can get through, thank you all for your responses. Unfortunately a stove with its clearances takes up more room then we have to lend it. I will look into the rocket stoves. I'm still favoring a partitioned, separate fire area. Although our house will be a small stick built cabin really, I'm jonesing for a grand viking soot-on-stone fire experience now and again. Perhaps I should satisfy this in an outdoor fire pit, and get a little LP burner in the house with a hose running out to a portable "grill tank" to aid in back-up.

Answered by Marla Umhoefer
Posted May 6, 2014 4:42 PM ET


If you want to understand why some stoves and some installations work and others don't, the experts are at WoodHeat.org. Read there why locating a stove on the perimeter of the building and a chimney on the outside wall or away from the peak is a design for poor performance; irrespective of the model or make of stove.

Answered by flitch plate
Posted May 6, 2014 9:41 PM ET

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