Can You Install a Wood Burning Stove in an Existing Fireplace?

Many of us have traditional fireplaces in our living rooms that we rarely use as intended.

Understandably, the trouble of chopping wood or purchasing coal, plus the added hassle of cleaning the place afterward, can make you look elsewhere.

This somewhere else can mean an expensive installation that might run up your energy bills compared to the cost of wood pellets.  

Installing a wood burning stove in an existing fireplace can be an ideal easy solution to give your trusty old fireplace a modern face.  

Installing a Wood Burning Stove in an Existing Fireplace (Can It be Done?)

Yes, a wood stove can fit directly into an existing fireplace and naturally attach to the chimney.

This kind of installation makes it super easy to have a roaring, crackling fire in your place without the mess associated with a traditional hearth.  

More importantly, installing a wood-burning stove means that you can use less wood to produce more energy.

For example, an airtight stove can use 4 to 10 times less wood to generate the same amount of heat as a traditional open fireplace. 

Also, fireplaces are generally not optimized to preserve the heat they generate. Much of this heat escapes through the chimney. 

Adding an airtight stove to your fireplace is an excellent way to get the most heat output. In addition to being clean, a stove will burn wood much more efficiently than an open fireplace would. 

Just ensure your fireplace has enough room to accommodate the wood stove you are looking to install. 

Ideally, your stove should leave sufficient space between it and the walls of the fireplace. This measure helps ensure the stove warms the indoor air more efficiently rather than losing much of its heat into the adjacent walls. 

Why Placing a Wood Stove in an Existing Fireplace is a Good Idea

One primary consideration when buying and installing a wood burner is how to vent it. You need an exit conduit for all the smoke and gasses that will result from burning wood. 

While this usually means having a stovepipe attached to each unit, it can mean additional structural modifications to your home. If you are not comfortable with such changes, the woodstove could present a challenge. 

Thankfully, your fireplace provides a ready solution to that problem. It already has a chimney through which a flue pipe can run from the stove to the outside of your house. 

With the chimney in place, venting your new wood stove is a straightforward task. 

Even if you prefer to place the unit some inches in front of the fireplace to leverage all its heating ability, you can still easily vent it through the chimney.

There are flexible flue liners that should bend into the fireplace and out the chimney. This way, your installation will not be restricted against or too close to the fireplace walls. 

Why a Wood Stove is a Good Investment 

Wood-burning stoves are advantageous for many reasons. They are a superior choice above traditional fireplaces and also present numerous benefits over a central heating system. 

1. Effective ways to heat a room

Wood burners are designed to radiate substantial amounts of heat for several hours even after the fire has gone out.  

Because they produce high-quality radiant heat, they are a powerful source of heat. The stove can quickly and more effectively warm up a room than a central vent system. 

The amount of heat coming from your stove will depend on that unit’s size and specific energy output. Like any other heat source, different stoves will vary in terms of how powerful they are and how readily they heat up your home. 

Unless it is up against the wall, your wood stove radiates powerful heat from all sides, including the top, maximizing its heat output in every direction. Making it the best way of heating your home.

2. An inexpensive source of fuel 

It generally costs less to produce one thermal unit with wood than electricity, oil, or gas. With a wood burner, you can produce a kilowatt-hour of heat at one-fifth of the cost of producing the same amount of heat with electricity. 

The cost of a kWh of gas or oil is generally about three times that of wood. And, you can save even more when using a wood stove because of its efficiency.

The stove allows for better control of the fire and burns more slowly. As a result, you use less wood to keep your room warm at any point. 

Considering how energy prices continue to rise, using a wood burner to heat your home more affordably makes a lot of sense. 

Of course, you may be unable to use the stove to heat all the rooms in your home. Still, it is likely to come in handy in your main living rooms where you spend the most time with your family. 

Unlike electricity or gas, whose prices tend to be standardized, wood can be much cheaper in some places. So if you live in an area where wood is more readily available, you could get it at much lower costs and maximize your savings.

There is also the possibility of using corn cobs or harvesting your own firewood, and heating your home at no additional cost. 

This is especially a viable alternative for DIY fans who are comfortable around tools. In this case, you may need to log trees, split and cut them into small pieces to fit in your stove. 

3. A reliable option for places with frequent power outages 

Since a wood burner does not rely on electricity, it will work as usual during power outages.

This is particularly important if you live in a place that experiences frequent power outages occasioned by unpredictable winters or heavy storms. 

The stove is completely self-reliant and will work regardless of disruptions in your home’s power or gas supply. You can count on it to keep your home warm around the clock, unlike the electric fireplaces.

4. An ecofriendly source of fuel 

Wood is a safe fuel source for the environment. Unlike coal, natural gas, or propane that contribute a certain percentage of carbon footprint, burning wood does not add carbon dioxide to the environment.

Because of this eco-friendliness, using a wood-burning stove will help you avoid contributing to ozone depletion and global warming. 

What to Consider When Installing a Wood Burning Stove in a Fireplace  

You will want to take a few things into account to ensure you carry out a successful installation and make the most of your new stove. 

1. The heat output you need

Woodstove inserts tend to be robust and produce superior heat quality. Just a tiny unit can sufficiently heat up to 1500 square feet of space. So, it will be essential to calculate your room size before buying the stove.

This is the best way to determine the size of a wood stove that will sufficiently heat up the room. The idea is to avoid overheating the space or providing it with insufficient heat output.  

2. State regulations 

The local government usually has specific laws regarding what is legal as far as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning is concerned. 

In this case, there may be laws stipulating the dimensions and material you can use on your wood-burning stove. If you are not savvy with these laws, consider talking to a professional installer to advise you accordingly. 

3. Chimney type and flue diameter 

Ideally, your chimney should be wide enough to accommodate just about any flue pipe. However, it helps to be sure. So ensure you measure everything beforehand and get the correct dimensions for your ventilation. 

Can You Install a Wood Stove in Your Fireplace? 

Provided there is sufficient room in your fireplace, you can install a wood-burning stove indeed. Remember first to check to ensure the chimney is in good condition and has enough diameter to accommodate a flue pipe for venting your chosen stove. 

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Melanie Mavery is an aspiring HVAC technician who is fascinated by the trends and opportunities in the HVAC industry. She spends most of her day writing content on home improvement topics and outreaching to prospects.  She's always looking for ways to support HVACs!