Informational Guide

Do Pellet Stoves Need A Chimney?

Learn about pellet stove venting options and if a chimney is needed with our complete guide to pellet heating at home.

by Josh M

A pellet stove is a traditional and efficient off-the-grid heat source.  Pellet stoves usually burn wood or wood products (compressed into pellets) to heat the stove and your space.

If you have or are installing a pellet stove in your home, you must know a few things to use it correctly. One of the most critical safety features to get right when installing your pellet stove is venting.

Read on for our full guide answering ‘do pellet stoves need a chimney?’ as well as all venting techniques you can use.

Wood Pellet Stove Heater

A pellet stove is a popular method of heating a room or entire home. They’re freestanding stoves that run off compressed wood or biomass pellets. They can either look like a traditional wood stove or have a more modern and sleek design making them popular in off-grid decor.

Because you can burn pellets instead of full logs, they produce less ash (which means less cleaning) and are extremely energy efficient. Pellets are cheaper than either oil or propane, and they are also easier to store and maneuver than logs and provide a more even burn. A step by step on how to use it can be found here.

Do Pellet Stoves Need A Chimney?

Unlike a traditional wood-burning fireplace, a pellet stove does not require a chimney, but it does require a ventilation pipe. This means you can install a pellet stove without an existing fireplace setup or add a chimney.

However, an installation professional may choose to vent your pellet stove through this infrastructure if you have an existing chimney.

 

Pellet Stove with Chimney

Pellet Stoves Venting Options

No matter your setup, you will need a way to safely remove the exhaust produced by your pellet stove to the outdoors.

Any combustion appliance must have proper ventilation (cooking stove, fireplace, etc.). Pellet stoves don’t produce a lot of smoke, but they do produce exhaust fumes, fine ash, and water vapor. You don’t want these things contaminating the air in your home.

What Materials Are Used In Venting A Pellet Stove?

Not all materials can be used for all types of venting. As we mentioned, other products in your home may require a ventilation system, but that doesn’t mean you should use the same venting method for your pellet stove.

Materials for a pellet stove vent pipe:

PL vent pipe, labeled as tested to UL 641. You can check with your pellet stove manufacturer to see if this is what your stove has been tested with.

PL vent pipe is made of a stainless steel inner pipe (where the exhaust is carried) and galvanized steel outer pipe, which is separated from the exterior wall by air space. The joints must be connected and sealed gas-tight.

Things you CAN NOT use include:

  • PVC (plastic) pipe
  • Dryer vent
  • Single wall stove pipe (this can be fine if cleared by the manufacturer of your stove and local building/fire codes)
  • Gas appliance (Type B) vent

Sidewall Horizontal Venting

A short horizontal vent pipe from the back of your pellet stove directly through a wall to the exterior of your home is the easiest way to vent.

The vent pipe is connected to an adapter at the back of the stove, and then it is run out through the wall using an adapter plate, ending at a distance of at least six inches from the exterior wall.

This isn’t always feasible based on the position of your stove or your home’s surroundings. For example, if your stove is your primary heat source, it may need to be placed deeper or more central to the room.

If it’s too far from an exterior wall, a long horizontal vent pipe won’t only be in your way but also extremely inefficient.

Horizontal Venting With Rise

Instead of the vent pipe going directly back from the stove out through the exterior wall in a straight line, the vent ends higher than where it started on the stove.

You can put the riser either in the stove room or outside the house. You’ll see more pipe in the room since it will rise above the stove, but it gives a lovely old-fashioned look and even slightly more heat (not much due to the pipe’s insulation). If the rise happens outside your house, you’ll see less pipe. The choice comes down to personal preference.

This method also increases safety in the event of a mechanical failure. The rise helps naturally remove gas buildup reducing the chance it goes straight back through the pipe and back into your home.

Pellet Stove Clearance Diagram

Vertical Venting

Vertical venting is ideal when your stove can’t be vented horizontally (though it usually requires a much longer vent). The vent comes out of the back of the stove and up through the roof. It has the benefit of keeping the vent gases warm and providing a natural draft.

You can run vertical venting inside or outside your house. Either have the vent pipe run from the stove out an exterior wall, then move vertically up the outer wall to your roof. It can be secured to the wall with brackets much like a drainpipe.

It can also run vertically inside your home and out through the roof. You’ll get slightly more efficiency this way but have a long pipe in your home.

Venting Into Existing Chimney

This is another vertical venting option that uses your home’s existing infrastructure to vent harmful exhaust from your stove. However, you will likely need to install a chimney liner in your chimney. Otherwise, you’ll need a regular pellet stove vent pipe run through the chimney.

When looking for how to install a pellet stove through a chimney, first, get the condition of your chimney checked or do it yourself. If it’s in good condition, you can use a short (under 15ft) stove pipe through a plate made of non-combustible sheeting (such as steel).

If you use a full-length pellet stove vent pipe through your chimney, you won’t need to worry about the chimney’s condition or the liner, as it will offer all the protection and insulation you need.

Factors To Consider When Venting A Pellet Stove

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Altitude
    If your home is more than 2500ft above sea level, it might require unique vent options. You may need longer/shorter piping or a specialized vent cap based on location.
  • Windy Conditions
    Local codes may require special vent caps or space from the exterior wall/roof in extra windy areas.
  • Maintenance
    Consider how you’ll clean and access the venting system. If it’s in a fireplace chimney, consider cleaning the chimney or protecting it with a liner.

How To Vent A Pellet Stove In The Basement

If you’re putting your pellet stove in the basement, the same venting methods apply. This may be a more expensive option if your basement is very deep.

For example, you will need much more vertical piping to run it from the basement to your ceiling than from your ground floor. If you want it to heat other floors, you’ll need to cut a hole in your floor.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How long can a pellet stove vent be?

The maximum allowed horizontal run of the vent pipe is usually four feet (this may change with local codes).

The maximum vertical run of a three-inch pipe is usually 15 feet. If it exceeds 15 feet, then you’ll need to run a four-inch pipe.

How much does it cost for an HVAC contractor to vent a pellet stove?

A short horizontal vent might cost $200 to $300, but if a ceiling vent is needed or desired, the cost could increase to $600 to $800. Contact a local contractor for a more accurate estimate.

How do you seal a pellet stove vent pipe?

You need to use cement made for stove pipes or caulk that’s been rated to be used with a wood stove. The cement needs to be able to handle high temperatures.

Conclusion

Pellet stove venting requirements may change depending on your home’s layout. No matter your setup, you will need somewhere to vent the exhaust. Each option has benefits and drawbacks and different cost considerations. Do your research before installing your pellet stove.

We also compared pellet stove with propane as well as troubleshooting and know how posts on it:

Pellet Stove vs Propane
Why Does Pellet Stove Keep Shutting Off
Are Pellet Stoves Sage
Do Pellet Stoves Need Electricity

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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