If you live in a colder climate and have side projects going in the garage, it probably sounds good to stay warm while you are working. Often, garages are lacking in insulation and aren’t heated. But is it safe to use a wood stove in your garage?
Using a wood stove inside your garage is as safe as any other means of heating. However, like any other heat source, it must be monitored and never left unattended for longer than a few minutes.
Placing a wood-burning stove in your garage can leave you with an uneasy feeling. The fear of a house fire is a serious and real threat. This article can help put your mind at ease. Read on to learn more about installing a wood stove in your garage!
Benefits of Using a Wood Stove in your Garage
Using a wood stove in your garage is going to be very beneficial for you and your home. It provides several benefits that some people might not know about.
The benefits of using a wood stove in your garage are:
- Wood stoves are better for the environment – Wood is carbon neutral. That means that when it is burned, it doesn’t contribute to the deterioration of the planet. Burning gas and oil releases an excess of carbon into the atmosphere. Carbon is the main culprit behind climate change. (Source: MyChimney)
- You can install a wood stove anywhere – You can place a wood stove anywhere inside a room – it doesn’t matter where the electricity is. The only thing that dictates a wood stove’s placement is that the stove will have to be run wherever you put it.
- They have an unsurpassed heating ability – Nothing produces heat like a fire. With an electric fan, heat is directed from the fan to parts of the room to warm it up. With a wood stove, heat will build up from the fire and extend out to engulf the room.
- Fueling heat with wood is cheaper than oil or gas – Kerosene prices, like regular gas, go up and down with the market. Wood is a very cost-effective resource. If you have land to cut down and harvest your wood, you can save even more money.
- Wood stoves work 24/7/365 and don’t need power – If you live in an area where power outages are common, a wood stove is the preferred choice of heat. When the power is out, there is no way to heat the garage if you have an electric heater. With a stove, you can throw in some kindling, and before you know it, there is a roaring fire that will warm the garage and you.
- You can use wood stoves for cooking – Some heating stoves will have a large flat top used to cook. The heat from the inside makes the top-level hot enough to throw a pan or skillet on top and make dinner while working or in a power outage situation. Ensure that the stove is made for cooking, or there will be staining and damage done to the stove.
- They add a nice decorative piece to your garage – Potbelly stoves and newer wooden stoves are some of the most striking pieces made today. They have fans and window displays that show the fire as it crackles and pops. A nice stove can be the centerpiece of a great decorative garage.
Before You Install a Wood Stove in your Garage
Installing a wood stove in your garage will provide warmth that could be much needed if you use the space for other activities like woodworking or running your side hustle. The furnace will keep the area warm and protect the equipment that you have stored in the area.
The first steps in any job around the home are:
- Check into permit requirements
- Ensure you have the proper tools ready
- Prepare the area
- Gather the appropriate personal protective equipment
Steps to Installing a Wood Stove In a Garage
Once you’ve secured any permits, purchased your wood stove, and have the space and tools ready to go, it’s time to make plans, measure carefully, and get your wood stove installed in your garage.
1. Pick the Location for the Stove and Measure
Start with a mock-up of where you want to place the stove. Consider a few different positions to see which works best. Keep the placement of the chimney at the forefront of your plans.
Remember, you can’t raise a chimney through a floor that has a bedroom above it. If you want to use a vent that attaches to the wall instead of the ceiling, make certain that it doesn’t vent into high traffic areas or in areas that are in constant use.
Consult with the manufacture’s guidelines for combustible wall clearance. This clearance space will keep the walls from being damaged by the massive amount of heat that is going to be produced. Keep in mind that the exterior surfaces can exceed 400 degrees F. This heat alone could warp plastic and cause glass to shatter.
Careful measurements are exponentially important in the proper installation and operation of your wood stove.
2. Construct Heat-Resistant Barriers Around the Wood Stove
As mentioned earlier, the stove will put out tremendous amounts of heat that will damage the walls. That applies to the floor space as well. Depending on the type of stove you have, and the material used for heat-resistance, you want to have up to 36″ between any combustible surface and the stove.
If any surface is unprotected, you’ll need to space the stove at least 36″ from it. As protective materials get added, the distance of the stove from its surroundings can get smaller.
Protective, heat-resistant materials for any combustible surfaces include:
- Non-combustible board
- Sheet metal
- Ceramic tiles
- A combination of these materials
Make a floor pad from heat resistant materials to create a barrier between the hot furnace and the floor. In the US, the law states that a floor pad must be at least 18 inches in front of the door and 8 inches from each sidewall. (Source: WikiHow)
Wall and Ceiling Protection
Place sheeting along the walls surrounding the stove. While the clearance will keep the walls from melting or collapsing, they can’t keep sparks off the floor or walls. If a spark jumps onto the floor, there is a pretty good chance it will start a fire. These barriers are there to protect your home, so don’t skip these steps.
Fire safety should be paramount when placing a wood stove inside your home. In the garage, there could also be gas and other flammable liquids stored nearby. A moment of carelessness or a rash move could mean the loss of your property.
3. Move the Stove to its New Home
Now that the area is fireproofed, it is time to move in the stove. A furnace is going to be made of several different layers of steel. Steel is heavy, and lots of it is even heavier. Ensure that you have a set of hand trucks or a dolly to move the furnace where you want it to go. Once it is sat down, try not to move it.
This step is where your extra time spent measuring is going to pay off. Moving the wood stove could be time-consuming or challenging to accomplish, depending on your number of helpers. Lift with the legs and not the back to prevent any injury.
4. Install a Chimney or Stove Pipe
Having a chimney that is straight and tall is going to make the wood stove perform much better. With a properly built chimney, smoke, soot, and ash created by the fire will be kept out of the home.
Remember that a stove pipe isn’t going to retain heat like a chimney. A chimney is a pipe surrounded by brick and rock to create a barrier between you and the noxious fumes that come with a fire. If you install a stove pipe, you should add some insulation for your protection and well-being.
Attach the end of the pipe to the exhaust port on the furnace. This pipe will lead backward or upward to a hole that is created in the next step. Newer stoves come with a stainless-steel pipe, but if you don’t have that, think about adding some paint or decor to keep in line with your stove design.
5. Make an Exhaust Port on the Ceiling and Wall
Follow these steps to install the stovepipe:
- With a tape measure, measure the opening of the stove pipe. The pipe should be around 4 inches, but measure to make sure that you don’t make a mess when cutting on the wall or roof.
- You should also add another 4 inches to the opening to allow for any combustible material. If you make a mistake, there could be damage to the roof and ceiling that would require a professional contractor’s work to repair. (Source: Full Service Chimney)
- Use a pencil and mark the diameter of the hole. Once the line is dark and can be viewed with ease, take a jigsaw or skill saw and remove it from the wall or ceiling.
- Use a flange (there should be one with the pipe), and attach it to the garage’s interior ceiling. The flange is a piece that will cover the holes in the roof and ceiling while holding the stovepipe in place.
Be careful while on the roof to complete the installation of the stove pipe. If it is raining or there are high winds, it would be wise to postpone the job until you have more suitable weather. Just like with the inside, there should be a flange that connects on the roof. The stove pipe will connect to this flange and form a solid tube down to the inside of the furnace.
Maintaining a Wood Stove in a Garage
Having a wood stove means that you should learn to maintain it. Learning how to take care of the stove will make it heat better and burn wood more efficiently. There are also chemicals burned during the process that can be deadly if inhaled in a closed area.
- Inspect the stove pipe and flue – Take the time to check the stove pipe and flue for any build-up of dust or soot. The surface of the pipe should have no holes and be free of cracks. The connections between the pipe should be solid and free of debris. (Source: NASD Online)
- Dispose of ashes safely – Use a non-combustible metal container with an air-tight lid to keep ashes from reigniting. Smoldering ashes are a serious fire risk and should be disposed of in a place that won’t promote further flare-ups.
- Use a wire brush on the chimney – If your chimney’s opening has a build-up of soot and ash, you will need to scrub it with a wire brush. The stiff bristles will scour the inside of the tube and make it flow much better.
- Clean the mat and wall pads – The pads you used to protect the walls and floor around the stove should be cleaned and checked for holes and burns. If a pad has several burn spots, you should replace it.
- Burn the appropriate material – Burning wood that is too wet or green will create a chemical called creosote. Creosote can be avoided by burning wood that has been weathered. Weathered wood is dry and has been dried out of sap.
What Type of Wood Burns Best in the Stove?
Some think all that is required for a fire is a place to burn it and something to burn. That is almost correct. For a fire to burn evenly and get the most heat from it, there is a process that must be followed to weather the wood for burning.
The best types of wood to burn are:
- Maple – Maple is a tree that grows almost anywhere and is easy to deal with. It splits well and has an excellent aroma when it is burned in a wood stove.
- Oak – Oak is a dense wood that is going to burn for a long time. It also is a pretty common tree and is the go-to for burning a fire overnight.
- Ash – Ash is a great choice for cooking as it doesn’t smoke that much and keeps a nice bed of red-hot coals.
- Birch – Birch is one of the harder woods to get going, but it produces an amazing smell that is hard to forget when it does. However, it has a thick skin beneath the bark that stores a large amount of water if not weathered properly.
- Fruit-bearing trees – Burning parts of an apple or peach tree will saturate your garage area with the smell of the fruit. Adding a few shims of applewood to a roaring oak fire sets the perfect winter mood.
Several items on the market can be added to your stove to give it a more pleasant smell. Nothing beats weathered fruit or birch wood in a fire. Keep wood covered and in the sunlight or indoors in a pile. This protects the wood and will enhance its burning efficiency.
Operating a Wood Stove in a Garage
A garage is a common part of the home in which dangerous chemicals and flammables are stored. This means that having an open flame inside could be disastrous to the family and your belongings. Creating a space that is free of flammables and protects the structure of the space is paramount.
Keep the heat levels checked when in operation. Items that are positioned too close to a hot stove will melt or become discolored. It is best to keep anything that is made from rubber or plastic away from the stove. These materials will drip when hot and could ignite if they land on dry material.
Airflow is important when you install a wood stove in a garage. If possible, have an open window or a ventilation fan on at all times. You should install carbon monoxide alarms and meters in a few places within the garage. Remember that any creosote build-up could cause serious illness if not cleaned and maintained.
Not only is having a wood stove an option for your garage, but it could also be the best one you have. They are cheap and easy on the environment while also being easy to move and operate. Some states even provide tax breaks for operating a wood stove. Wood stoves produce a tremendous amount of heat to fill the garage and provide a safe, dry working space for you.
One of the most important things to remember about having a wood stove is never to leave it burning unattended. There are pads and clearance issues that can protect you from the heat, but there is nothing to prevent a spark from popping onto the floor or walls. Keeping the door shut is paramount to safety as well.
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