Wood Stove Heat Shields: An Overview
Previously published at highschimney.com
Wood stoves require heat shields both under and behind them to protect your home from heat damage. While many wood stoves include heat shields in their design, some do not. Refer to your wood stove to determine if external heat shields are necessary. Installing these heat shields as instructed is important for keeping your wood stove safe and efficient. Taking the time to understand the heat shield needs of your wood stove is important for your safety, and will give you ease of mind when you need to leave your house unattended.
Wood stoves come in a variety of styles and designs. For this reason, appropriate safety measures vary. It is important to read any literature that came with your wood stove and refer to any certification information listed on the stove. This information will cover the distance necessary between the wood stove and the wall, as well as the suggested width and height of the heat shield.
Shields protect your home from heat damage and fire one of two ways. Understanding how they work is important to deciding which heat shield is right for you, and ensuring you install the shield correctly.
How Heat Shields Work
One technique heat shields use to protect your wall is by allowing space between the shield and the wall. These shields are hung with an inch gap between the shield and the wall. This allows air circulation behind the shield, which helps relieve the heat radiating from the shield. With these types of shields, it is important that nothing blocks the air flow behind the shield, as this could be a fire hazard. This type of shield strategy is most commonly seen with metal shields, but the same method can be used with concrete sheets and other shields.
The second method heat shields use is insulation. These types of shield rest directly against the walls or floor, and have heavy insulation behind the fireproof exterior. Just placing fireproof materials, such as tile or concrete, against the wall or floor does not adequately protect your home from fire. These materials might absorb some of the heat, but much more of it will radiate into your wall. This clearly is a fire hazard. Behind the fireproof material, you may need several layers of heat shield insulation to ensure proper safety. The amount of insulation you need is highly dependant on the type of woodstove you have, how close it is set to the wall or floor, and the type of insulation purchased. Please refer to your wood stove manufacturer or wood stove specialist for more information.
Finally, many insurance companies have standards about how a wood stove heat shield needs to be installed. These might be beyond the standards set by the wood stove company. As such, it is important to discuss your wood stove with your insurance company before installing anything.
Just because the basis of these shields is boring doesn't mean that heat shields must be an eyesore. There are many heat resistant decorations that can add life to a dull shield. Many people add decorative ceramic tiles or gathered stones to their shields to increase the beauty of the necessary piece. Just be sure that the products you use to affix the decorations are safe to use in instances of high heat.