Wood Stove Flues Explained

Written by: Paul Cathro

Updated on: December 23, 2022

If you’re ready to take the plunge and invest in a wood stove, or if you’ve just had one fitted in your home, you’ll need to know more about the wood stove flue.

Wood burning stove

The flue is an important part of your wood burner, and in this article we’ll take a closer look at everything you need to know about flues for wood burning stoves including what they are, where you can find them, and the building regulations surrounding them.

Read on to learn more so you can be well-informed about how your brand new wood burner works.

What is the Flue and Where is it Located?

A wood burner flue is designed to help remove smoke and waste gases from the stove and out of the property.

On all wood stoves the flue can be found right at the top of the stove’s body, typically extending straight upwards out of the stove’s top or, alternatively, out of the unit’s back with an upward bend.

It is quite easy to spot a wood-burning stove flue since it is the pipe which sticks out of the back or top of your wood stove and which usually continues upwards of the property through either the chimney, the ceiling or up the exterior of one of your external walls.

When the stovepipe goes up and into the chimney, it will pass the closure plate or register plate. This forms a seal which is at the chimney’s base and which must be in place for both aesthetic and safety reasons.

wood stove in living room

Once the stovepipe goes through the closure plate or register plate, it will usually be connected to the flue liner.

The flue liner is a flexible pipe that connects the chimney top to the stovepipe, ensuring that all of the smoke and waste gases leave the property effectively and safely.

The entire length of the flue liner and stovepipe from the wood burner itself to the exterior of the house is sometimes known simply as the flue.

The part connecting the flue to the stove is sometimes known as a flue collar.

The stovepipe and flue are also where the damper is sometimes found. Typically, you’ll find a damper on an older wood-burning stove where the stove’s draw must be manually adjusted.

The damper is a metal circular plate which sits in the flue and which has a handle sticking out of the flue wall. It’s possible to rotate the damper by using that handle to close or open it.

Recommended: This guide explains the different parts of a wood burning stove.

Wood Stove Flue Regulations

When you invest in a wood burner, you need to bear in mind that there are some regulations that you need to follow regarding wood stoves and their flues.

Wood burners may be popular but they are also fire hazards, and there have been several worrying fires in recent years due to misuse or careless installation, therefore, it’s absolutely essential that you make sure that all due care and attention is taken when installing and using your new stove.

Some simple rules to follow include:

  • Making sure there’s sufficient clearance between combustible materials such as ceilings, walls and floors and the stove itself. Check your local regulations at an early stage.
  • Never placing the wood-burning stove on a base (hearth) that isn’t fire-resistant.
  • Always hiring a professional to come and inspect your chimney before you use your stove.
  • Only burning well-seasoned, dry wood.
  • Opening the window a small amount to allow for better ventilation of the space.
  • Always disposing of the ashes outside of the house in a firmly closed metal container.
  • Never extend the stove pipe through a ceiling or wall unless there’s no alternative.
  • Never connecting the wood stove to a chimney in a fireplace unless that fireplace is sealed off.
  • Never connecting the wood stove to any chimney that serves another appliance that burns a different fuel.
  • Never starting a fire in a wood stove with a flammable fluid like gasoline.
  • Never burning rubbish in a wood stove as this can cause a chimney fire.
  • Never allowing a wood stove to continue to burn overnight or unattended.

A major rule to follow when choosing a stove is to make sure you’ve chosen one made from a suitable and sturdy material like steel or cast iron.

If you’re buying a second-hand stove, you must carefully check for any defects or cracks, and if you’re living in a mobile home, you’ll need to check the stove is suitable for use in one.

Second-hand, older stoves are generally much less efficient than modern stoves. If you need a wood stove that's an efficient burner and adhere's to EPA emission regulations then it's best to buy new.

Before you install your wood stove, you need to check with your local authorities to ensure you comply with all local building and fire codes.

You also need to think carefully about where the stove will be placed – typically, a central location is the best choice if you’re using the stove for heating purposes.

Modern wood stove

Bear in mind that warm air will rise, so if the stove is placed too close to your stairwell, you’ll lose a lot of the heat upstairs.

If you’ll be using a chimney that is already in place in your home, you’ll need to check its flue length and location. The guidelines indicate that:

  • The horizontal part of the uninsulated stovepipe mustn’t be over ¾ of the length of the same section of the flue over the point where the flue and pipe connect.
  • There must be a 36” clearance between any combustible ceiling or wall surface and the stove. If it isn’t possible to have that amount of clearance, the combustible surface must be protected with a fire-resistant material like sheet metal which should be 1” away from the surface.
  • When floor mounting a wood stove, it is important to note the following:
  • Stoves with under 2” of open ventilated space under their unit base or fire chamber shouldn’t be installed on any combustible material.
  • Stoves with pedestals or legs that provide between 2 and 6” of open ventilated space under the base or fire chamber can be installed on a combustible surface as long as it’s protected with 4” of hollow masonry to is laid in such a way as to ensure air circulation, and protected by 24 gauge sheet metal.
  • If there is over 6” of open ventilated space under the base or fire chamber, it’s possible to place a stove on a combustible surface as long as it is protected by stone masonry of 2” in thickness, concrete or solid brick. 24 gauge steel sheet metal should also cover the unit.
  • All floor protections must extend to a minimum of 18” on each side of the stove.

Need some ideas for your wood stove hearth and surround? Don't miss our new guide that's full of inspiring pictures of our favorite installations.

About the Author Paul Cathro

Paul is an ex-HVAC engineer with 5 years 'in the trade'.

He acquired tinyhousehugeideas.com in 2022 and aims to make it the internet's most comprehensive HVAC resource for small homes in the next few years.

You can learn more about Paul's story here.

Browse his published work on the website here.

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