Be sure to install wood stoves properly

Duane Hicks

With winter on its way, some area residents may be thinking about installing a solid fuel-burning appliance in their garage.
But before they do, they had best check to see they’re doing it in the right—and safest—way.
Rick Hallam, chief building official for the Town of Fort Frances, said the town is promoting the fact that the installation of wood and pellet stoves in residential or accessory buildings must be done in compliance with Ontario Building Code Section 9.22 and the Canadian Standards Act CAN/CSA B365-01 (2006).
“We are noticing not a large number, but a sufficient number that we want to make people aware, of solid fuel-burning appliances being installed in garages,” he noted.
“Typically, they are installed after the fact; after a person has built a garage and we’ve done our inspection with respect to the building.
“Maybe a year down the road, the party decides to install a solid fuel-burning appliance, which is basically a wood stove or wood heater.”
But Hallam said it’s really important for people to know that when they are installing these types of heating devices, particularly in a garage, there are standards and there are regulations for proper installation.
He stressed the most important thing people who are considering installing, or already have installed, a solid fuel-burning appliance in their garage or accessory building needs to know is that a wood-burning appliance must be at least 18 inches off the floor.
Unlike a wood stove in a family room in a home, there’s often gas fumes, paint fumes, and fumes from solvents and cleaners out in a garage.
“Those fumes are heavy and they lay at floor level,” he explained. “They are flammable and can be ignited.
“That’s the reasoning behind having the stove elevated to 18 inches.”
Other considerations include the distance of the appliance from walls, distance from other flammable materials (like studs and ceiling joists), proper stove pipe fittings and thimbles that will go through a ceiling or roof, proper height of the chimney so you don’t get backdraft, and proper bracing of the chimney.
All of those dimensions, and all of those clearances, are very specifically laid out in the Canadian Standards Act, which Hallam has on the shelf in his office.
“Anyone who wants to call me, I’d be very happy to share that information with them, and I would be very happy to do an installation inspection,” said Hallam.
“We haven’t typically asked people to come forward and get a building permit for these appliances,” he noted. “The Building Code gives me the latitude to decide whether or not we’re going to compel people to take out a permit for these things.
“We haven’t done that in Fort Frances, but we could get to that point if it’s demonstrated there’s a need to do that.
“You come to the conclusion most people are very responsible when it comes to installing these things because they don’t want to lose their investment in a new garage by having it burn down,” Hallam remarked.
“A reasonable thinking person is going to install it in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper installation, but we do see the odd time when the chimney isn’t high enough or it isn’t high enough off the floor.”
Hallam also advised anyone who is installing a solid fuel-burning appliance in their home, garage, cabin, or wherever else to tell their insurance company, which, in turn, will have the appliance inspected by a Wood Engineering Technology (WET) expert.
“If you’re going to have a wood-burning appliance in your garage or in your home, and you haven’t informed your insurance company, you can imagine the ramifications if you have a fire and then they come back and say, ‘Faulty installation of a wood stove. We’re not going to approve your claim,’” he warned.
“You’re best off to, first, install it right, and second, make your insurance company aware of it,” he stressed. “Have them come in and inspect it, and have them sign off on it.”
Hallam said the bottom line is safety and liability.
“The whole thing is about just making sure people do things safe,” he stressed. “We’re not out to pick their pocket on yet another building permit.
“It’s to make sure they’re doing it right and they’re protecting their investment more than anything else.”
For more information on the regulations regarding the installation of solid fuel-burning appliances or to request an inspection, call Hallam at 274-5323 ext. 252 or drop by the Civic Centre and ask to see him.
Visit for more information