Wood Stove Tribulations
I will admit to feeling a little beaten down in our quest to install a wood stove.
As you might have seen in a prior post, we found out that our chimney is currently in flagrant violation of building code due to it being very close to and much shorter than the attic tower. As a result, we knew we needed to extend a big pipe out of the top of it in order to get our wood stove. Having come to terms with that, we paid $120 for the fireplace store to send their technicians out to do an assessment (money which we would then recoup through a discount on the work).
The result of the assessment is that the height of the chimney has now become the least of our worries.
It turns out that a wood stove requires a 6″ flue in order to accommodate the appropriate chimney liner. Our flue currently looks to be about 4″. We could pay for an exploratory process where the chimney folks try to scrape and grind away the build-up inside the chimney and see whether we can get an extra 2″ out of it. But this is going to run about $800 and the technician was pessimistic about it actually giving us the necessary space. Since the chimney runs up through the center of the house, demolishing and rebuilding it would also be a massive hassle and very expensive.
So now it seems like the only options for us to actually utilize the existing chimney are a pellet stove or a propane stove. Both of these can use narrower flues, presumably because they produce less particulate waste that can collect in the liner. Though the propane option would provide us with a heat source that still works if the power goes out, we’re not looking to invest in another fossil fuel heat source, for either environmental or economic reasons. So we’re left with the pellet stove. This is a high efficiency, low emission option, but I’m not thrilled about the fact that it requires electricity to run (you can generally run off of a battery for backup, but this only lasts a few hours) or that we’ll be dependent on an industrially-produced fuel source with the potential for price and availability fluctuations.
Theoretically, another option would be to build a new chimney with a flue that could support a wood stove, but given the stone construction of the house, the technician thought that option would likely “break the bank”.
So the question now is whether we should move forward with the pellet stove in order to take advantage of an expiring window for a pretty hefty discount from this shop, plus the value of being able to cut down on this winter’s heating bill (not to mention recouping the assessment fee) within our expected budget? Or do we shell out the money to take on a bigger construction job in order to get a wood stove now? Or do we seek out other opinions, forfeit the discount, and probably end up waiting until next year to get a break on our heating bill?