Wood Heating

Choosing and Installing a Wood Stove, Firewood Rack and Firewood Loading Window for the Homestead

Every weekend homesteader needs a wood heating.  Over three years we've taken some big steps to heat our home with wood instead of fossil fuels, step 1) purchase and install a wood stove; 2) build a sturdy wood rack; and 3) install a custom window to bring wood into house.

  Choose and Install Your Own Wood Stove 

Three years ago we decided to invest in a wood stove for our home.  We were fed up with paying fluctuating fuel prices and with having the power going out.  Homesteads need to be as self-reliant as you have time to maintain, a wood stove is a great way for weekend homesteaders to be more self-reliant.

It was hard to decide on what type of wood stove would be best for our homestead, especially considering the size of investment.  We had a wood stove at our previous house and that helped us decide on what we wanted.  Most importantly the stove had to be sized to heat our size of house about 1800 sq.ft.  For comfort, I wanted a large window to see the fire.  The fire chamber needed to be big because there's always large chunks of wood in the wood pile.  Also a large chamber let's you shift the wood around more easily.  We also wanted an efficient wood stove to get the most heat out of each log as possible.  We got quotes from a couple of local fireplace stores that do installation and with a wood stove and chimney installed these quotes were around $6,000.  This was definitely not in the budget, we were planning on more like $3,000.  So we knew we would buy the stove not from an installer and install it ourselves.

We decided on the Drolet HT2000.  It has a good size firebox so you can load logs along the width or depth of the stove, a large glass door, and is built extremely sturdy.  The stove was made in Quebec, Canada and we ordered it from a local Home Hardware store and it was delivered to our driveway.

Moving the wood stove from the driveway into the basement was almost impossible.  This stove weighs A LOT.  We used a pulley system to get it down the stairs with 2 x 6's as slides and we almost couldn't do it.  This stove barely budges with any pushing or pulling by hand.  But after a day we finally got it in the basement.

It was important for us to install the wood stove so that it would pass a WETT inspection and it would be covered by our home insurance.  We reviewed all the codes for installing a wood burning appliance and the chimney and Drolet's manufacturer's installation instructions.

Another big decision was choosing a hearth to set the stove on.  There are custom or pre-fabricated tile hearths that you can purchase, all of which cost too much.  Since the stove is located in the basement we decided to cut out the square of flooring over the cement and install stone patio pavers on top of the cement for the hearth.  The stones gave us a few extra inches of surface at the front on the wood stove that weren't required by code but after experiencing burnt carpet with the wood stove at the previous house, we thought a few more inches were a good idea.  You never know when the wood may pop and coals bounce out the door.   The patio stones have worked really well and were a very thrifty choice.

Chimney through soffit
The next decision was whether to have the chimney go to the roof on the interior of the house or exterior.  The interior was a a good choice for us because it would take space from the room upstairs and would require extra work and money to finish the walls around the chimney.  An exterior installation was the best choice.  The chimney comes straight up from the wood stove almost to the basement ceiling and then with a 90 degree elbow goes through the exterior wall.  The chimney then goes straight up one story and through the overhanging eaves of the roof.  Due to the distance of the chimney from the peak of the roof, guide wires were required.   The installation of the chimney was very tricky.  It wasn't easy figuring out where the trusses were located in the eves, in relation to the upper story wall studs, and the basement wall studs and the center of the placement of the wood stove.  It was also difficult meeting both the manufacturer's directions and code for clearances to combustible surfaces such as interior wall surface, distance to wood wall studs, distance to wooden trusses.

We called a WETT inspector to come out and he provided paperwork for the insurance company.  We had to change insurance companies as the existing one charged a very large premium for a word burning appliance.  We found a more locally based insurance company that provides insurance for more country homes and their premium was quite reasonable.

It took three months to get to this point. And we had to get wood in time for the winter season.  We had no room in the budget for a wood rack so we stacked the wood on the driveway where it was deposited that year.  That year we really enjoyed that intense heat from the wood stove and the cozy ambience it gave to the basement.

Build a large sturdy firewood rack

Dry your firewood well in a DIY firewood rack

Build Four Cord Fire Wood RackThe second year we needed a wood rack so that our firewood could dry faster.

We located the wood rack close to a downstairs window and hooked up a large diameter sono tube to the unfinished ceiling which leads to a large tote bin.  We open up the window and throw the wood down the sono tube chute where it lands right beside the wood stove.  Then we stack a couple days worth in a small rack beside the stove.

The rack is built very strong, sturdy.  It is supported with 8 pylex anchors.  It holds a lot of weight, about 4 full cords, and has not shifted.  The anchors were difficult to screw into the ground.  Very difficult to get them vertical and leveled with each other.  But in the end, we still think it was the best way to go.

Building a firewood loading window

A round window for loading fire wood

On this year,our third year with the wood stove,  we're investing our time and money into a better way to bring the wood from the rack into the basement.  Last year we brought it in through a slider window with a sono tube slide across the basement into a tote beside the wood stove.  This was better than carrying the wood through the front door and down the basement stairs but the sono tube was always shifting, it was running across half the basement ceiling, not pretty or tidy.  This year we want to be able to bring the wood straight into the basement right beside the wood stove.

Our choices were to carve a whole through the exterior wall with a removable plug or install a window.  We couldn't find a window available here that would fit in between studs to avoid needing a lintel.  So we've decided to make our own custom window that is designed to be pulled out of the wall like a plug.  It is round and will fit between the wall studs.  It will be located the beside the wood stove and will make it is simple to  take the wood off the rack move a couple steps and slide it into the round hole into the basement beside the stove.  I'm also looking forward to more natural light.