Wood Burning Stove 101 - Your Questions Answered

A modern wood burning stove is a surprisingly reliable and effective tool to keep you warm all winter long. If you've always wanted to learn more about these rustic machines, then this Q&A is for you.

Why Bother with a Wood Burning Stove? 

Humans have been burning wood to cook food and to stay warm for far longer than we have had written history. Archaeological records indicate humans have been using wood fires for literally hundreds of thousands of years. Technology has come a long way since then, so you might think that our modern innovations would have rendered wood-burning fire irrelevant by now.

However, those same modern innovations allow wood to remain effective and affordable in delivering heat all winter long. A new wood burning stove equipped with a capable blower can compete with electric heat pumps, gas furnaces, and other high tech heating solutions. And for many homeowners the fuel source can be a lot cheaper. People who live in rural areas can harvest wood from their own properties or find it at very affordable prices in their local community.

Finally, a wood burning stove has a classic look and rugged charm you just won't get from a conventional furnace. There's something undefinable and desirable about relaxing in front of a crackling fire with loved ones.

Where Can You Install a Wood Burning Stove?

Unlike modern ventless gas logs, a wood burning stove requires ventilation. New stove designs and properly aged wood can greatly reduce smoke and ash waste, but they can never remove it entirely. Which means you will have to install a wood stove with access to the exterior via a stove pipe or by connecting to a chimney.

Also consider what you're going to do with the wood burning stove. There could be a significant difference in requirements for a wood stove intended purely for aesthetics and one that you want to use to heat your entire home.

Can You Keep a Wood Stove Burning All Night?

Of course, you can. And you'll want to, since waking up to a freezing house is something nobody likes to experience. But how do you keep a fire burning for a long time?

First, it is hard build a long-burning fire on a cold start. The best way to keep the heat going all night is to begin with a healthy coal bed. They might not look like much, but there is a lot of powerful heat in those coals. Rake them all towards the front of the stove.

Second, pack the the stove with large pieces of wood. This seems obvious, right? The more wood, the longer the burn. One key to understand though is to pack that wood as tightly as you can. You want the first layer of wood to insulate those in the back. The idea is that the fire will spread slowly, so you get a more even burn over a longer period of time.

Third, ideally use a seasoned hardwood for your fuel. But other than that there isn't much to do. Rake the coals, stack your logs, and you're ready to go. Plus, it is always a good idea to build your all-night fire just before you go to bed. That way you get maximum burn while you sleep.

Is it Possible to Heat Your Home with Only a Wood Burning Stove?

Yes, it is.

Now, there are some caveats to this. A lot of modern wood stoves are sold mainly for their aesthetic functionality. The heating is nice, but people just want them to look neat. As the centerpiece to a family room, a wood burning stove like that works great. Plus, you get some relatively cheap supplemental heat.

However, stoves intended mainly for their looks aren't designed to heat an entire modern home. A pot belly stove without a blower and no ability to connect to ductwork probably isn't going to heat your whole house. If that's what you're going for, make sure you invest in a wood burning stove designed for whole-house heating. Many of these machines come equipped with powerful blowers that can push luxurious, rustic heat to every corner of your home.

Do I Have to Do Anything Special to Maintain A Wood Burning Stove?

Yes, but only if you want the stove to last for decades. Folks who are fine with their new wood burning stove corroding in only a few short years can stop reading now.

First, the most important thing that you have to do for your wood burning stove is to clean the ash tray regularly. Ash build up can cause all sorts of problems. This is similar to cleaning the filter on your air conditioner in that you need to do it early and often.

Second, don't over-fire the stove. Over-firing occurs when the fire burns too hot. This can warp the metal of your wood burning stove which might make it unusable. So be careful when burning a big fire, and don't leave the door open when the stove is working.

Third, be selective about your fuel source. You want to burn seasoned hardwood. You don't want to burn trash, debris, or green wood. Trash can produce harmful fumes, and green wood will create a lot of smoke and creosote.

Fourth, read your owner's manual. Not every modern wood burning stove is exactly alike. Yours probably has some unique feature or characteristic that you need to know about. The owner's manual probably won't be that many pages, and it could save you a lot of time and trouble in the future.

Can I Buy a Wood Burning Stove Online?

Of course, you can! You can find a complete line of wood burning stoves here on IWAE. We offer financing, free shipping, and post-purchase technical support.

More You Want to Know?

Do you have other questions about a wood burning stove that we didn't answer? Let us know in the comments below.

22 comments (view/add)
  • Rick VanDyke
    Rick VanDyke
    Posted on 3/23/2023

    Bought a home with a brass flame stove. Nice stove
    It has a single two stage air control on the bottom that slides in and out. Stove works well but , there is no flue baffle .
    How do I determine if a flue baffle is needed. Seem to me it would add more control to the tuning the burn .

  • Rebekah Quarles
    Rebekah Quarles from Ingrams
    Posted on 8/8/2023

    One could be added if it works better for your furnace or your usage. You may want to discuss with an expert what works best for your specific usage.

  • Jennifer
    Posted on 3/1/2023

    If I have a wood stove with a 12"x12" door, how do I calculate the size of the chimney flue needed so smoke doesn't come back in the house when you open the door?

  • Rebekah Quarles
    Rebekah Quarles from Ingrams
    Posted on 4/4/2023

    A chimney flue should be at least 1/8th the size of the fireplace's opening.

  • D norris
    D norris
    Posted on 10/5/2022

    What is the cause of incadescent heat from a wood varying stove?

  • Rebekah Muller
    Rebekah Muller from Ingrams
    Posted on 10/17/2022

    I apologize, but I am not sure that I understand the question. Incandescent heat typically relates to light bulbs that create heat. The heat from a furnace is created by lighting a fuel type, such as wood or pellets, on fire, and this heat can be spread throughout the room with a blower.

  • Ryan B
    Ryan B
    Posted on 7/27/2022

    I want to install a wood stove into a 9x30 cabin. What is the best option for the walls that will be approx 30" from the stove?

  • Rebekah Muller
    Rebekah Muller from Ingrams
    Posted on 8/18/2022

    I apologize, but I am not clear on what you mean. If you are concerned about fire safety, it seems like 30' should be a substantial distance from the stove. We would recommend to insulate the walls in order to keep the heat in, if this has not already been done.

  • Jon Kutlow
    Jon Kutlow
    Posted on 7/8/2022

    Hi Dan, I have a very small wood burning stove that I'd like to put in my mancave/shed. The size of the shed it is 11 x 15. Can I safely store two motorcycles in the shed with the wood burner

  • Dan Danowski
    Dan Danowski from Ingrams
    Posted on 7/19/2022

    That depends on the characteristics of the wood stove and how far the motorcycles can be from it. If they can be at the appropriate distance according to manufacturer specifications, then it should be fine. If not, then not.

  • Russel Ruf
    Russel Ruf
    Posted on 11/30/2021

    We have a wood stove in my basement. We put up a new chimney two years ago. This year our stove burns so hot and continuous. The damper is completely closed. The stove still burns hot. We have had a certified stove guy to come troubleshoot our stove. The draw is exactly right between 3-5. He says a damper cant be put in the chimney pipe. Do you have any ideas?

  • Dan Danowski
    Dan Danowski from Ingrams
    Posted on 12/1/2021

    It's really hard to say what might be going wrong. If you have the model and manufacturer, you might contact them to see if they have any suggestions. My first suspicion would be that the internal draw control is not functioning correctly.

  • Ron Savage
    Ron Savage
    Posted on 11/7/2021

    I have an older Peacock wood stove , the stove works great no complaints it has a built in blower system in which the outlet for blower is on top and the flue pipe is on top behind there is about 6-7 inches of space between the 2 and in the center is a dial that turns up or down some type of vent . There are 6 holes about 3/8” drilled through top I’m guessing it’s a upper fresh air intake like the one on the front door , question is when open there is no baffle system below like newer stoves it draws air as draft is being created by chimney, what or how should I adjust air flow

  • Dan Danowski
    Dan Danowski from Ingrams
    Posted on 11/8/2021

    I'm sorry, but that's not a brand we deal with so we may not be much help. Best guess would be that the dial you describe regulates the amount of air allowed to enter the fire box. More air equals hotter fire for a short time. I'm sorry that we can't help more. You're best bet would be to follow-up with a Peacock dealer.

  • austen
    Posted on 10/28/2021

    if your wood burning stove has a fresh air intake do you have to hook it up?

  • Dan Danowski
    Dan Danowski from Ingrams
    Posted on 10/29/2021

    We would highly recommend it.

  • Dee
    Posted on 2/2/2021

    We thought that oak would burn slower but it seems like we go through a lot of wood. What are we doing wrong. Or can you review how to pack the stove and how long should it burn.

  • Dan Danowski
    Dan Danowski from Ingrams
    Posted on 2/3/2021

    Oak is generally considered the slowest burning wood when it's aged properly, because it's also the slowest wood to season. Two years is recommended. The best way to pack a stove is a bit of an involved question. We'll try to do an article on that soon.

  • Mark Pascoe
    Mark Pascoe
    Posted on 11/12/2020

    Im getting alot of creosote/ tar coming out of top of pipe in just one day? Small stove( in an rv) came with heavy steel 3 7/8" pipe going into 4". Im burning kiln dried bundle hardwood mix. Cleaned it yesterday irs back today? Please help

  • Dan Danowski
    Dan Danowski from Ingrams
    Posted on 11/12/2020

    The main thing that causes rapid creosote build up is green wood. Sometimes people sell "seasoned wood" that isn't actually thoroughly dried out. I'm betting the issue is your wood.

  • Mike S. Ward
    Mike S. Ward
    Posted on 10/21/2020

    Can I replace a solid piece of cast iron for a door on my wood burning stove instead of a glass door ?

  • Dan Danowski
    Dan Danowski from Ingrams
    Posted on 10/22/2020

    As long as it is the right size and works with the stove. If this is a personal modification, you should also check the warranty terms. Modifying the unit like that could void the warranty.

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