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Installing a Wood Heater

There are several important factors to consider when you're planning to install a wood heater. Here, we help you understand the important aspects of the installation as well as a guide on the different installation types for your home.

Once you’ve decided on the wood heater of your choice, think about the following questions to understand a bit more about how you will have your wood heater installed.

  • Where will the heater be positioned in your home?
  • Are there combustible surfaces surrounding the wood heater?
  • What are your heater’s installation dimensions?
  • What are the hearth clearance measurements?
  • How will the flue system be installed?
  • Where will the flue exit the roof for sealing requirements?

The best place for your wood heater

While not every home has the luxury of an existing fireplace, if your home has one and you want to upgrade, then the installation of an inbuilt wood heater insert is the best suited. The flue can be installed through the existing full brick masonry chimney, while you can place the insert within the fireplace cavity without requiring further insulation.

Another variation of an inbuilt fireplace is the zero clearance wood heater, if your home does not have an existing fireplace. Transform a suitable blank wall in your living area into a heartwarming centerpiece with minimal structural work required.

With a freestanding wood heater option, you could have more freedom to position the heater either running parallel to a wall, or as a corner installation. However, keep in mind that you want the best insulated space away from windows where possible.

All wood heaters would have recommended clearance space to give you a good indicator of where best to place your heater.

Combustible Surfaces & Surroundings

Be mindful of the space around where you want your wood heater installed. Do you have carpets? Floating floorboards? Curtains? It’s important to ensure that you have hearths installed if your flooring is combustible, or have poor heat conduction.

You will also want to ensure that there are no flammable material within a certain distance, in case of flying embers.

Flue Installation

There are six common types of heater and flue installations:

  • Single-storey - generally a simple install where the heater flue exits directly up to the ceiling and roof above;
  • 45°Wall Penetration - where the flue kit is angled towards the adjacent wall then through the wall to the outside of the home;
  • Cathedral Ceiling - similar to a single-storey install where the flue kit runs straight above the heater into the roof above, but requiring a longer flue kit system;
  • Floor Penetration - usually a double-storey install where a floor penetration kit is required to insulate combustible floors;
  • Insert Installation - an existing fireplace with brick masonry chimney with a standard flue kit;
  • A Zero Clearance Installation - where a combustible structure is made to replicate a brick chimney, and requires a zero clearance box with a zero clearance flue kit for installation.

Most wood heater installations are completed trouble free. However with some houses, extra measures may need to be taken to ensure the flue is the correct height to avoid the hassle of downdrafts or smoke blowing into neighbouring properties.

The minimum height for a wood heater installation is 4.6 meters from the bottom of the heater to the top of the flue. Sometimes the flue will need to be extended because the flue must extend a minimum of one meter from where it exits the roof. It will be best to consult your local council to be sure your wood heater installation adheres to building regulations.

Hire a qualified installer

We don’t recommend any wood heater installation be done as a DIY project. Wood heaters must be installed in accordance with the Australian Standard AS/NZS 2918, specific manufacturer’s instructions and your building regulations. Even if there might be aspects of the installation that look simple for a DIY, we strongly recommended that you have your wood heater installed or signed off by a qualified professional. In fact, in some Australian states it is a legal requirement to use a certified installer.

A professional installer will be able to run through the local building regulations and installation compliance process to ensure the safety of your home, as well as minimise any impact to your home insurance. Their professional experience also means they can offer valuable advice and insights to identify any potential problems.

If you live in the Melbourne metro area, when you purchase a wood heater from your local Barbeques Galore store, staff will arrange an in-home pre-installation inspection with a licensed professional for you. Alternatively, you can find your closest certified installer at the Australian Home Heating Association (AHHA) website, or call us at 1300 301 392 for recommendations.

After installation

Once you have your wood heater installed, don’t forget to think about the safety of all at home with these tips:

  • Make sure that you have a functioning smoke detector at all times
  • If you have young children or pets, invest in a child guard or firescreen for everyone’s safety
  • Store your firewood in a clean, dry space. You may even want to consider an inbuilt storage cupboard near your wood heater, if space permits. Or basic and decorative firewood storage holders.
  • Maintain your wood heater by cleaning your flue annually. If your wood heater starts to produce too much smoke, it may mean there’s a buildup of soot.