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wood-coal stove wall clearance and heat shield use

Cowboy | Posted in Building Code Questions on

I will build a small house over a basement with a coal-wood stove upstairs adjacent to an exterior wall, sharing a chimney with the basement featuring a second coal wood stove. My question stems from the need to economize on space in a small house (800 sf up and 800 sf down). 

I may build frame or log. If frame I could build a standard chimney fireplace, with the brick and flues the only barrier against outdoors cold. This solves space problems with stove installation, since I can put the stove close to the fireplace or chimney without violating codes, I believe. If I build a log house, I do not want to cut an opening in the logs to accommodate a chimney, so the chimney would be enclosed within the log building, maybe with 1/2-inch separation space between the interior surface of the logs (or the stud wall in a frame house) and the hidden surface of the chimney, to accommodate building codes and for safety.

With either frame or logs, the stove will be a more efficient heating source if the chimney is enclosed within the building and not exposed to the exterior. So, I prefer that, if I can economize enough on space.

My question is what is the most space and code efficient way to set up a (small) stove on a brick base near to a brick chimney? I am trying to avoid using 6 or 7 feet of spacing from the wall to the front of a small stove. Of course, the stove will have stove pipe rising from its top to an elbow that then extends pipe into the brick chimney and flue.  The brick chimney thickness would be whatever minimum passes codes, 15 or 16 inches maybe, as I seem to recall. The chimney width is not a space issue.

Also, is there a heat shield I could buy and attach to the rear of the stove to reduce the spacing legally required between the brick chimney wall (that in turn is adjacent to the frame or log wall)? I suppose the stove manufacturer sets specs re this issue, also, which is another complication. 

Finally, is there a permissible way to build the chimney flush against the exterior wall, without 1/2-inch separation, or is that a code violation or fire hazard? The 1/2 inch doesn’t matter re spacing, but work in stabilizing and attaching the chimney across the space is a consideration.

Sorry about the length; just trying to be clear.

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  1. gusfhb | | #1

    Brick is a 'non combustible' surface so looks like 12 inch spacing.

  2. walta100 | | #2

    You will need to read your stove and pipes installation instructions and use the setbacks listed.

    You used the word coal that somewhat implies the stove maybe an antique and unlikely to have instructions. This link has some of the common clearance requirements.

    Seems to me 2 stoves in 1600 square feet will hugely oversized if you have any insulation and solid walls. I think 2 stove is to much even if this is a stack of logs with moss shoved in the gaps.


  3. Cowboy | | #3

    "I think 2 stove is to much even if this is a stack of logs with moss shoved in the gaps..." LOL, thanks. Not antique stoves, antique me.

  4. Expert Member
    Akos | | #4

    With a bit of careful layout, you can easily heat a two story structure with a single stove on the main floor. If anything, overheating the 2nd floor is usually the issue with wood heat.

    I would aim for a central placed stove with an exposed chimney all the way up to the 2nd floor ceiling. This is all the heat, and some, that you'll need in any reasonably built (by that I mean insulation and air sealing) structure. A large ceiling fan is also a good idea.

    I have a 550sqft cottage up north with a loft bedroom, simple 2x6 construction. Not as big as what you propose, but the single wood stove can get the place up to 27C (80F) easily when it is -30c (-20F) outside.

    As for clearance, follow the manufacturers instruction. If your stove does not have this, I would tread careful as uncertified stoves can be an insurance headache.

  5. Cowboy | | #5

    My stove or stoves will be new. They still sell coal stoves today, that also burn wood.

    Placing a single stove on the main floor (above the basement) will heat 800 sf without trouble. But it won't heat the basement much I think.

    (I recall in recent years huddled over a wood burning stove at my log cabin in 40 degress below zero Montana. Cabin is very nicely maintained and chinked with cement, 100 years old, probably 750 square feet. It was cold in there, even with the stove going all the time. But the ceiling has no insulation. I had to sit right next to the stove to stay reasonably warm. I also lived in an 800 plus square foot log house a long time ago in cold weather country; there was a fireplace for aesthetics upstairs and a wood burning stove in the basement. Stove helped but would not nearly heat the whole house, although it was a Yotul low oxygen stove that probably produced fewer BTUs)

    Re the little house I will build, the mainfloor is over, not under the basement, obviously. Heat rises, so I figured a basement stove would be a good idea in North Dakota winters (no matter how much moss I stuff between the logs :)

    I will have to give more thought to a central location for chimney. There are other complications, as ususal. The house is off grid and I am trying to be prepared. I will install a new propane burning cooking stove and oven in the large kitchen, but also a THIRD wood coal burning cook stove in the center of that large kitchen. If I centrally locaate the chimney for the living room stove, stove heat will all be concentrated in the center of the house. If I just run the kitchen stove pipe through the roof, and place the living room stove against an exteriro wall on the far side of the living room, heat will be better distributed. I have to think all this through.

    Maybe I'll build a fireplace in the living room, that I can set up with a coal-wood stove that I can remove if I decide it's superfluous. Thanks for the responses.

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