Pipes may not be glamorous, but you definitely need them. In this brief article, we hope to explain the essential function, installation, and brands of pellet pipes. Armed with this knowledge you will be a better consumer.
Why you need pellet stove ventilation
Although pellet stoves do not create a lot of smoke, they do release ash, exhaust fumes, and water vapor. These are natural waste products that come from burning pellet fuel. You don’t want these substances leaking into your home, so a pipe is attached to the stove connecting it to the outside. In this way, all the harmful byproducts of running the stove are safely outputted outside.
There are two main ways this excretion process can occur: mechanically or naturally. With a mechanical exhaust, a small fan blows the “bad stuff” through the stove pipe and sucks fresh air in from the other end. This fan is similar to the ones on handheld vacuums. Conversely, a pellet burning stove without a fan uses the natural air draft of the room to propel the exhaust particles out and provide oxygen for the fire.
Things to Consider before buying
Read this before you go out and buy a pipe. There is nothing worse than returning from a trip and realizing that you bought the wrong item. Actually, there are a lot of things that are worse, but making a wrong purchase is still up there.
- PL Vent Pipe: This type of pipe is made and tested solely for pellet stoves, so if you care about maximizing safety and functionality you should buy a PL “pellet vent” pipe. These pipes are double walled with air space in between. All joints on these pipes should be properly sealed during installation. Additionally, IF YOUR PELLET STOVE HAS A PL PIPE REQUIREMENT->USE A PELLET VENT PIPE!
- What NOT to buy: Any vent meant for appliances such as dryers, stovepipes that don’t feature the double walled construction, and plastic pipes.
- Stove Pipe Reviews: Amazon can give you a lot of information on which pipes work out for people, but be careful not to over rely on Amazon reviews at the expense of doing your own research.
Although stovepipes are great (read: essential) to have, installation can be a chore. On the positive side, you only have to install the pipe once. If you do it right the first time, you’ll never worry about it again (except for having it cleaned). Here are a few things to consider to make the process go smoother.
- Clearance: Aside from stove burning byproducts, some heat also travels through the stovepipe. For this reason, there is a minimum distance the pipe must be from any other objects that could potentially catch on fire. This distance is listed in the installation guides.
- Exhaust Methods: Think about how you want the stove pipe to be set up. It can be attached to the stove parallel to the ground (cheapest method) but the downside is that smoke can drift back into the house in the event of a power outage stopping the fan. The other option is attaching the pipe to the top of the stove, perpendicular to the ground. In this case, there is natural draft that will prevent exhaust back spill in the case of a power outage. These are the two main exhaust methods, but there are other variations that you can check out on this site. NOTE: If you are using a chimney for exhaust, be sure to have it inspected and cleaned.
- Instructions: Follow instructions carefully, and make sure that all pipe joints are properly sealed. Many of these are pressurized and you don’t want gas to leak. If the instructions given by the pipe manufacturer are less stringent than the stovepipe installation instructions given by the pellet stove manufacturer, always go with the stove instructions. Better yet, seek out the professional opinion of someone who works at a fireplace store
- Other Factors: You should also consider how easy it will be to clean the stove, what altitude your house is at (affects drafts), and the construction of your house (airtight houses vent less effectively).
Pellet Stove Pipe Reviews
Unlike our other review sections (e.g. wood stoves). There is not much to review about different types of pipe. What we can do is give you some insight into two of the most popular brands: Selkirk and Simpson (Duravent).
Selkirk vs. Duravent: In general, people prefer duravent as they say it is made at a higher standard of quality. This is obviously harder to assess when dealing with pipes. The duravent is also favored, because there is no need for locking bands between class A sections. Finally, the Duravent also comes in a longer max size (five inches while the Selkirk is one inch less.)
Find out what others have to say about Selkirk Pipes on Amazon
Read what everyone is saying about Duravent Pipes on Amazon:
NOTE: A large amount of the above info was culled from posts on the forum Hearth.com. This website gives great info on all varieties of wood burning stoves, pipes, and related accessories. Be sure to check them out.
Where to Buy
These pipes can either be found at your local hardware store, a specialty fireplace shop, or online on websites like amazon.com.
Finding the best wood pellet stove pipe can seem like a complex endeavor, but that is definitely not the case. The relative uniformity of pipe options means that there are small differences between manufacturers. As long as you follow the guidelines for buying the right type of pipe (and installing it properly) you should be fine. ALWAYS consult with a professional if you are uncertain about something. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Make sure you are fueling your stove properly: check out our guide to buying the best wood pellets.