Adding a Combustion Air Intake to a Wood Stove
LESLIE: Greg in Washington is on the line and wants to heat his home with a wood stove. Tell us about your money pit.
GREG: Well, sure. I heat my home with a wood stove and it’s about 10 years old, the stove is. And it’s a pretty good-quality stove. And it’s the main source of heat for my house but I’ve been really disappointed in it. The house is drafty and when the fire dies down, the house cools down in a hurry.
And I had the insulation checked out, so it’s well-insulated. And I think the problem is the wood stove. Right now, the air intake for the combustion chamber is at the bottom of the stove. And so it’s taking in room air and I think that’s causing a draft. And I’ve talked to a lot of our neighbors – where we live, there’s lots of wood, so a lot of people heat with wood – and they all say that it would make a big difference if I were to hook up a stove to an outside source. I’ll be taking cold air from the outside in.
So I went down to our dealer where I bought the stove and basically, he told me he could sell me what I’m looking for but I’m going to be disappointed. And his reason is that right now, we’re taking air into the combustion chamber that’s about 60 degrees or so. And if I add the outside intake, I’ll be taking air in that’s, say, 20 or 30 degrees in temperature. And I’ll be spending a lot of energy just heating the air from the outside. And he recommended not to do it.
So my question is: is it your opinion this would be worthwhile to do or not?
TOM: Most modern fireplace and wood-stove systems include a combustion air intake. In fact, in some cases, it’s required. So, I wouldn’t necessarily take the dealer’s advice on this. I know that if you improve energy efficiency, it’s always going to include a combustion air intake. Because otherwise, you’ve paid to heat all of that air sort of once and now you’re going to pay to heat it again because you’re taking it up the chimney. Does that make sense?
GREG: Yeah, sure does. Yes.
TOM: So, if there’s a way that you can put a combustion air intake there, I would definitely do that. Because you’re right: that wood stove will depressurize the house and frankly, it’s probably pulling more air in from the outside anyway. You’re probably pulling that cold air in anyway; you’re just pulling it through all the gaps around your doors and windows and other spaces like that.
GREG: Right. It’s really drafty by the doors and windows. You’re right.
TOM: Yeah. Because it’s depressurizing. So why not just give it the combustion air and see what happens?
GREG: OK. Because it – I’ve estimated it would cost about $600 to do this. And probably means it’d cost $800 by the time I’m done, so I didn’t know if it’d really be much difference.
TOM: I think it will probably make you a lot more comfortable.
GREG: OK. I think I’ll try that then.