I have a certified wood stove but I can’t get enough clearance to the wall. Can you explain a little about shielding the wall to reduce the clearances?

There is a provision in the B365 part of the code for reducing clearances on wood stoves. This provision is called shielding. To comply, a wood stove must meet certain clearances from the closest walls. If the label says the stove needs 15” of open space behind it and distance  is only 10”, this means the stove is not compliant and should not be used. You can however shield the wall to reduce the required distance up to 66%. Here are the basic rules of shielding. A shield must be made of a material that is non–combustible such as 26 gauge or heavier steel plate or tile or stone to name only a few. Depending on the material the reduction % will change. The shield must; be supported on non-combustible spacers at least 7/8” long (away from the wall), be placed 1 – 3” off the floor, 22” above the appliance and 18” past the sides of the stove. The shield will reduce the 15” requirement to 7 ½” or 5” depending upon the shield material. 

My insurance company wants me to get a WETT inspection on my wood stove. Is there a way I can tell if my stove is certified?

I have inspected close to a thousand wood stoves and fireplaces and installed half that many. Here is what I ask potential customers to check. First of all if the stove has a label, take a picture of it. The same is true of the chimney. I generally can tell from pictures but a label is best. If the stove is older than 1980 it is most likely not going to be certified and a uncertified stove needs to have 48” clearance to combustibles. If it is homemade it is uncertified. If the chimney is damaged or rusted it will fail. If the stove and chimney are certified chances are the install will pass. If there are problems you will likely be able to make slight changes without huge expense. Feel free to send me pictures for free advice. There are problems with about 75% of the installs I see. Most problems can be overcome however. When it comes to wood stoves, your life is on the line – it must be installed right!


I have had a wood stove for twenty years in my old home. I recently moved and the new home has a wood stove as well. I am concerned about the type of chimney and how it is installed. How can I determine if the chimney is rated for a wood stove?

The best way to tell if the chimney is the right type is to look for a label. Usually the installer will buy a package with the stove and matching chimney. The stove label may state which chimney is recommend but not always. The chimney for a wood stove must be rated to 650 degrees C or 2100 degrees F. The label on the chimney should say it is certified and complies with the S629 standard within the B365 of the building code. More often than not the label is missing or not open where you can see it. Another approach is to try to see how thick the insulation is between the two layers of the chimney. Most wood stove chimneys will have 2” of insulation. There are a couple exceptions but if the chimney only has 1” of insulation it is most likely only rated to 1700 degrees and only acceptable for use on a wood fireplace. As an installer I generally can tell by looking at the chimney if it is safe for use on a wood stove or not. I recommend having the entire setup inspected for your safety. 

I have a wood stove in my basement that is hard to get lit without smoking us out of the home. Can you explain why it smokes in the house and how I can prevent this?

Wood stoves and chimneys can often smoke because of draft problems. Draft problems are usually related to how the chimney is designed, if it is located primarily outside it is usually cold and provides no natural draft. When you open the door on the stove cold air begins to fall into the room through the chimney. Many times your home is a better chimney then the chimney known as the stack effect and the smoke enters the house instead of the chimney. The best approach to overcome these problems are to open a window near the stove to try to equalize the inside and outside pressures to reduce the stack effect. Secondly you need to heat up the chimney somehow (torch, hairdryer etc.) to push out the cold air and get a draft started. Finally try building the fire upside down to create heat before smoke. (largest wood on bottom, then kindling then paper on top) The paper burns up creating heat to warm the chimney then the wood catches and hopefully the smoke begins to rise. 

I have an older fireplace that is very drafty. I rarely use it but I like to have a fire during the holidays. Can you suggest some approaches to reducing the drafts?

It depends upon where the drafts are coming from but in most cases the cold is coming down the chimney. There is a draft control on the front of the fireplace that opens and closes a flap in the chimney. Make sure this door is closed. If there is a lot of cold air even with the draft closed then you may want to push some insulation up into the pipe to stop the wind from blowing around the draft door. Here is how I would do this. First of all put some insulation in a garbage bag so the insulation is roughly a little larger than the chimney pipe. Next push this up into the chimney so it cuts off the draft. Make sure the plastic bag is hanging into the firebox where anyone trying to light a fire will see it. Pin a note on the bag stating that it must be removed before starting a fire. If the draft is still there you likely have an uninsulated chase. This is a problem you may want to call me about as it is a bit complicated to describe. Finally check to see if there is a fresh air vent outside that can be blocked. Once again place a label in the firebox to notify everyone that the fresh air is blocked.


You can save 15% on your insurance if you burn wood. Wawanesa recognizes WETT inspected appliances to be professionally installed to code and for that the customer wins two ways!

1. Cheaper insurance for as long as no changes are made to stove installation. Yes year after year of savings!

2. Peace of mind knowing everything with the installation is safe and to code.

This contribution from;

Kevin Valliere CIP, Affinity Insurance Services Meadow Lake

Fax 1-306-236-6850  Phone 1-306-236-5224  Box 1418, Meadow lake, Sask, S9X 1Z1 Email : kevin.valliere@affinityis.ca

We enjoy explaining insurance and saving clients premium without compromising their coverage