Falmouth Chimney Sweep is happy to install your stove and also to advise you on the purchase if needed. There are many choices available for customers planning to heat with a stove including wood stoves, gas stoves, and a variety of inserts. We even have a few customers who still use coal stoves, so we’ve seen it all and can help you pick what best suits your heating goals and budget. The ideal time to start this process is spring and summer.
How large is the area you wish to heat? Is this stove going to be used as the primary source of heat, a supplemental source of heat, or for ambiance and emergencies? Do you want to burn wood or is coal an option? Do you have a gas line to your home? If so, a gas stove might be an option. Are you going to have your stove installed into an existing fireplace or will it be freestanding? Have you researched a reliable source of fuel?
If you have a gas line to your house or can accommodate a propane tank, gas stoves are a good choice for people that aren’t enthusiastic about finding a source for firewood along with chopping, stacking and hauling it. A gas stove needs to be installed by a licensed gas fitter or plumber and the flue needs regular sweeping. Gas leaves hydrochloric acid behind when it burns and that residue needs to be swept out to keep the flue from deteriorating. So while it will need flue maintenance, the chopping and hauling of wood is eliminated. Most gas stoves can function during a power outage.
Keeping it simple is the best solution for lots of customers. Wood stoves are tried and true and heat the homes of thousands of happy customers every year. They are reliable in power outages, simple to use (with some practice), and provide years of good service when properly installed and maintained. A wood stove flue, just like another other flue, needs to be inspected annually for safety. Most of our wood stove customers who burn for heat need sweeping every season. Poor burn habits and lack of maintenance are the most typical reasons for chimney fires in wood stove flues. If the flue is inspected yearly and swept when needed based on the inspection results, a wood stove will provide wonderful, safe heat. But… the proper maintenance must be performed to achieve good results with any stove.
Stoves can be installed into existing fireplace flues in MA with a direct connect pipe as long as the flue has been inspected and deemed safe to vent the products of combustion. This type of installation runs a short pipe—generally three to four feet in length--into the existing clay flue. It costs more to sweep this type of installation because the entire stove and section of pipe, along with the damper template, need to be moved from the fireplace to properly sweep it and get all the creosote out. This usually requires two technicians to move the stove around, thereby increasing the charges to sweep. This type of installation tends to allow greater build up of creosote.
In our 34 years of experience, the best type of installation is with a full stainless steel reline of the flue. While the initial cost is higher, the benefits over the long term are multiple.
A full reline for the flue is customized to the stove for optimum drafting. Having the flue draft properly draws the products of combustion: acid, water vapor, and creosote, up and out of the flue very efficiently. This decreases residence time in the flue and cuts down on the amount of creosote remaining in the flue to cause chimney fires and the amount of acids remaining in the flue to deteriorate liners. Typically the stove is swept in place and from inside the home in any type of weather. One technician can handle the job thereby lowering the cost.
Freestanding or in a fireplace
This depends on where you’d like your stove placed. Some chimneys are built with additional flues. A chimney inspection will determine if you have additional flues or need to install to the fireplace. A flue that is no longer being used to vent a furnace can be adapted to vent a free standing stove and if the flue is in good condition it won’t need relining. A free standing stove can also be installed with a metal chimney, separate from any existing masonry chimney, if the customer requests it and the home structure allows it.
Clearance to combustibles
There is a required amount of space between installed stoves and surrounding combustible structure to prevent it from catching fire. This is known as clearance to combustibles and is required by local building codes and the manufacturer of the stove. Depending on where the stove will sit you will need to maintain the proper clearances and possibly install protection in the form of hearth pads and extensions, mantel shields and wings. This is why it is important to have a preliminary appointment before you shop for stoves. If you already have a stove on site we will determine if it will fit in the desired location and verify clearances.
All the towns we service require permits for stove installations. This is not generally a difficult or intimidating process. We will NOT install any stove without a permit, so please do not request it. Permitting and inspection of the installation by the town protects you in the event of a chimney fire. If the stove is not properly installed, permitted, and inspected, don’t expect your insurance company to reimburse you for chimney fire damages.
Where to buy stoves
We always advise customers to find a reliable stove shop to begin the search process. They have the knowledge to advise you toward the correct stove for your needs. They will talk with you about the size of the area you wish to heat and other important factors to be considered in your decision to purchase. Stoves can be purchased online or in the box stores if you have done your research. Make sure your stove source will be around if you need service or parts. Used stoves can offer years of service to multiple owners as long as they are in good shape. Stove shops do not generally take used stoves in trade because they cannot warranty them so they end up passed along or listed in the paper or Craig’s list. If you are the first time buyer of a used stove get someone who knows stoves to check it out with you before you buy. We have had a couple of customers recently purchase used stoves only to find they were unusable when we came to estimate the install. Some older stoves will not have replacement parts available when needed.
A Word About Pellet Stoves
Pellet stoves are used by many people successfully if they are properly maintained. Be advised that pellet stoves won't run during a power outage unless you have a source of electricity such as a generator. Falmouth Chimney Sweep is no longer maintaining pellets stoves or sweeping pellet stove flues for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is we are not able to obtain the service manuals needed for proper maintenance of the stoves. They are only made available to stove dealers. These stoves have a lot of electronics built in and if something gets knocked loose during the cleaning of the stove or sweeping of the flue we cannot get the information we need to fix it.
The second reason is that it makes more sense for the stove and flue to be serviced at the sametime by the same company, saving the homeowner both time and money. Pellet stoves need annual maintenance by a stove technician to give best performance. This service is in addition to the homeowner's regular cleaning and maintenance.
Falmouth Chimney Sweep highly recommends that any purchase of a pellet stove be done with the understanding that you should purchase only from a reputable, local dealer who can service the stove and flue for you. Any reputable pellet stove dealer will be able to install the stove. Falmouth Chimney Sweep can provide an inspection of the flue before installation if needed.
Falmouth Chimney Sweep will take the time to make sure you get a good, serviceable stove and proper install. Call us anytime to discuss what needs to be done to make this happen. We do our best to accommodate this process at any time of year but be aware the wait times can be significant in the fall and early winter. The BEST time of year to start this process is in the spring and summer.