A pellet stove works very similarly to a traditional wood-burning stove, but instead of wood logs, it uses tiny pellets of wood or other plant-based material as fuel. The heat generated by the combustion of these pellets is distributed evenly through vents throughout your home. You control how much heat is dispersed based on how many pellets you feed. However, venting a pellet stove is different than venting a wood-burning stove.
You can vent a pellet stove using direct venting methods, which doesn’t require a full vertical piping stack above it to get rid of combustion fumes. You have to make a hole for passing the vent pipe through the wall or roof, but this work is not as extensive as needed for other wood-burning appliances.
Venting your pellet stove may seem intimidating at first, but it’s quite easy to do with different venting modes as required. You can find something useful here, no matter which venting method you apply!
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Does a pellet stove need to be vented outside?
A pellet stove’s primary function is to burn pellets and produce hot air. A pellet stove must be vented outside through an existing brick chimney, a hole in the wall, internally within the house, or externally by some other means. There are a variety of different ways you can vent your pellet stove. Choosing which method is best for you will depend on your needs and situation. When deciding on where to install your pellet stove, first decide how you will vent exhaust fumes from inside your home.
Two important venting requirements must be considered when installing a pellet stove in your home:
- Check which local codes and regulations need to be followed related to the fresh air intake and the methods employed to supply this air into the room and the pellet stove.
- The flue type required to exhaust the waste air from a home’s interior.
The pellet stove burns the sold fuel using real fire, so it needs an oxygen supply for combustion and produces fumes that need to be vented properly for the safety of the residents. So, you’ll need to keep in mind these requirements before installing a pellet stove. Most models come with an intake air vent and a flue socket at the back of the pellet stove.
Does a pellet stove need a chimney?
No, it’s not necessary to have a chimney in your house for venting a pellet stove. Although if you already have a chimney and it’s feasible for the situation, you can use it to vent the stove. You will need to update the chimney according to the building codes for pellet stove venting through the chimney. However, there are other modes of venting a pellet stove safely if transforming a chimney seems like too much work and cost.
Can you vent a pellet stove without a chimney?
Venting a pellet stove without a chimney offers more installation flexibility and is more cost-effective than venting through a chimney. Venting directly through the side wall is a better alternative to the chimney. Putting a vent pipe through the roof is also a way to vent without a chimney, and sometimes it’s your only option which I’ll discuss in the next section of this article. So, you can install a pellet stove anywhere in your house as there are many ways to vent it effectively.
3 Common ways to vent pellet stoves
Rules regarding solid equipment installation and building codes don’t allow you to recirculate waste air in the house as it is an extremely dangerous practice to follow. Three main methods are used to vent waste air produced by pellet stoves to the outside.
1. Venting through the existing chimney
Pellet stoves do not require a chimney to vent their waste air, but they can be vented through an existing chimney if you wish so. It allows you to save on installation costs, as a professional installer won’t be required. The downside is that it may involve extensive work if the fireplace is old and hasn’t been used for a while. Also, you will need to make it large enough to install a typically tall-sized pellet stove in it.
If you have an older home with no central heating system and only a wood stove in your living room, or when building from scratch, it will probably make sense to invest in installing a completely new pipe for pellet stove exhaust. Many a time, you would have to place the pellet stove against the exterior wall because the existing chimney may have a small fireplace that wouldn’t allow the pellet stove to be placed inside. You will have to run the flue along the exterior wall and then direct it into the fireplace, from where it will go straight up into the chimney.
There are many other considerations for using an existing chimney, such as any limitations of the pellet stove design, manufacturer’s warnings, or local regulations regarding venting through the chimney.
Chimney requirements for a pellet stove
If you plan on utilizing an existing chimney for installing and venting a pellet stove, you have to consider the following requirements:
- If the diameter of the chimney is wider than 150mm, a stainless steel flue liner having a diameter of 150mm needs to be installed along the full length of the chimney.
- A suitable chimney cowl that can prevent wind from entering the house
- A register plate is required at the base of the chimney
2. Venting through the roof
If you plan to install the pellet stove against some internal wall of the house where you don’t have access to an exterior wall or a chimney, then venting through the roof or vertical venting is your only option. You have to run a flue directly out of the roof above and put a termination cap on it. However, it is not as easy as it sounds!
Venting your pellet stove can be expensive work, depending on the situation. If you have decided to go for vertical venting, look for any possible obstacles that come in the direct way of the vent pipe. The flue pipe needs to keep a distance of a minimum of three inches for any combustible material. To locate the rafters and joists in the ceiling and select a vent point that is not cutting through the roof structures. You’ll also need a heat/loss (fire-stop) spacer with a clamp to support the pipe as it goes through the ceiling.
3. Venting through the wall
Through the wall or horizontal venting is the easiest and most inexpensive way of getting rid of exhaust fumes produced by the pellet stove. First, you have to connect the vent pipe to the adapter present at the back of the pellet stove. The vent pipe then goes into a wall plate through the exterior wall to a distance of six inches away from the exterior wall. Moreover, you’ll need to ensure that the vent outlet is at least three feet away from any flammable material and seven feet high above any walkway. If you opted for a horizontal venting with a small rise to fulfill this condition, it would be best.
Two options of wall venting
You have two options to install this type of through-the-wall venting. Either you can install a riser pipe inside the room or outside the home, on the horizontal vent.
Some people think that having the riser pipe inside the room will get more heat from the warm pipe. However, the pipe is insulated, and it doesn’t make much difference in increasing efficiency. On the contrary, some homeowners might not like the look of extra pipes inside the house.
You can put the riser outside the house for aesthetic purposes if you don’t want an old or rustic look. In some situations, you will not want too many pipes to come in your way outside. So, you can choose any of these two options that best suit your requirements. In both options, don’t forget to include a wall protector plate to keep the wall from discoloration from the exhaust gases emitting outside.
How to vent a pellet stove in the basement? (4 ways)
A basement can be colder than the rest of the house as it is an underground space. So you may want to put a pellet stove in your basement to heat it. While putting a pellet stove in the basement is not an issue, venting it may present some challenges. In addition to a proper exhaust with flue, you will need a fresh air intake vent to draw in air for combustion. In the absence of an external wall, you’ll not be able to vent it directly through the side wall.
Some ways to vent a pellet stove in the basement are:
1. Up through the ceiling and roof
You will have to choose this way of venting your basement pellet stove if it is placed against an internal wall without access to the external wall. You have to attach an adapter to the back of the pellet stove, route the vent pipe up through the ceiling (and the upper floor), and then out the house roof. For this venting method, you’ll need a ceiling support box, an attic insulation shield, and a flashing kit.
The drawback of this venting method is that you have to do extensive cutting through the basement ceiling, the upper floor, and the roof to run the vent pipe out to the exterior.
2. Through the external wall
If you have an external wall to your basement, then you can place the pellet stove against the exterior wall and vent it to the outside directly through this wall. It will require you to only make a hole in the sidewall and run the vent pipe out and up. The downside to this method is the long vertical rise of 3 to 4 feet, so the exhaust fumes and smoke can rise and disperse away from the house naturally with air if the power is out and the pellet stove exhaust fan isn’t working. So, keep this in mind when choosing this method of venting the basement pellet stove.
3. Through an existing chimney
If you already have a wood-burning fireplace with a chimney in the basement, you can use that to run your vent pipe through it. But the size of the fireplace is important as pellet stoves are quite high, and most stoves do not fit in small fireplaces. Another consideration for venting through the chimney is installing a flue liner insert so the smoke can efficiently travel through the chimney.
4. Through the basement window
You can vent a pellet stove through the basement window if you have no other choice. This last resort of basement venting requires so many considerations. Firstly, you will need a special small venting pipe as the basement window size is small, so you will have to make a small opening. Secondly, ensure that there aren’t any obstructions in your way. Lastly, only open the window when the pellet stove is operating. If you leave it open for an extended time, you will risk cold air, rain, and snow entering the house, which can damage your property.
Frequently Asked Questions about pellet stove venting
Can you vent a pellet stove through a window?
Venting a pellet stove through a window is possible, but this option should only be considered when all other venting ways have been ruled out. It means that venting through a window is not ideal for pellet stove venting. It’s important to mention here that venting through a window doesn’t mean that you can throw out a vent pipe through an open window, as it can cause problems with the airflow inside and outside of the house. Venting through a window will need proper installation of vent pipe with bends and supports. Moreover, there will be building codes that you will have to follow.
How to decide what type of venting to choose
There are several methods for venting a pellet stove, as discussed above. Some methods work better than others, depending on your home’s layout and personal needs. The best method for you will be based on where you want to put your stove, how much heat you need, how long it takes for smoke to go up and out of your chimney, and other factors that can determine whether one is a venting method works better than another. Find out which is right for you below.
What type of vent pipe should be used for pellet stove venting?
Depending on your location, you might be required to install a special vent pipe for pellet stove venting. Pellet stoves produce more heat than regular stoves, so that the vent pipes can become very hot. The wrong vent pipe can cause problems with combustible gases and result in an explosion or fire. So, which type of pipe is best? In most cases, you should use a double-walled vent pipe with an inner stainless steel pipe and an outer galvanized steel pipe to prevent corrosion. Pellet stoves usually require a 4″ L-vent. As the exhaust system on pellet stoves is pressurized, ensure that all joints are sealed with silicone or use gasket connections.
L-shaped vent pipes allow pellet stoves to be placed near the room center instead of too close to the walls. Installing pellet stoves with some clearance is considered a best practice, but it is not mandatory. The same L-shaped vent pipe is used in a small vertical rise when venting through the exterior wall.
Does a pellet stove need a fresh air vent?
A fresh air vent isn’t needed for all pellet stoves, but it helps to have one when using your stove as part of a home heating system. The vent provides extra airflow and helps prevent air and fuel imbalance while ensuring even burning by feeding a smooth supply of combustion air into the pellet stove from outside. Also, local building codes and regulations may need you to have an external fresh air vent, or some manufacturers may recommend it for optimal performance of the pellet stove.
Is there a ventless pellet stove?
There are no ventless pellet stoves on the market. Pellet stoves burn the fuel pellets at 75% efficiency, thus producing waste exhaust that needs to be vented outside to keep the inside air clean. So, pellet stoves cannot have a ventless design; thus, don’t go to the market to find such an item as it doesn’t exist yet! Several brands offer pellet stoves with a direct-vented heat exchanger. You should know that these units don’t comply with the regulations and must be avoided as you will be posing health risks for you and your family.
Pellet stove produces unhealthy smoke and combustion products, so you must ensure that it is venting the exhaust out of the house efficiently. Use a proper method for venting a pellet stove to have a safe and clean heat source in your home. Follow the regulations and manufacturer’s guidelines for an efficient pellet stove that is safe and serves you well for years to come.