Installing a Pot Belly Stove in Five Steps

A pot belly stove in the corner of a cabin
  • 10-15 hours
  • Advanced
  • 200-1000
What You'll Need
Heat shield
Pot belly steve
Class A double-walled chimney
What You'll Need
Heat shield
Pot belly steve
Class A double-walled chimney

The pot belly stove has been a traditional cooker throughout American history.

Many people like to have the look in their home to remind them of the one room schoolhouses and general stores of yesteryear.

To install your pot belly stove, follow these five steps.

Step 1 - Decide on a Stove

Before installing a pot belly stove, you'll need to choose the right style for your home and use.

While they were efficient at one time, choosing an antique model is not the best option if you want to use your pot belly stove as a source of heat. The antiques are better for looks than for functionality.

There are replica pot belly stoves built to modern specifications that burn either coal or wood, or that burn efficient and clean wood or corn pellets. With antique models, you don't have a choice of fuels.

Step 2 - Measure Area for Stove

personal measuring a section of wall

You need to have the appropriate clearance from any combustible materials, regardless of the age of the stove you choose to install.

While there are likely local codes you will need to consider, the National Fire Protection Association has guidelines that usually form the basis of local ordinances.

These guidelines specify a 36-inch clearance from any unprotected woodwork, furniture, or other combustibles, and 18 inches from any non-combustible surface.

Step 3 - Decide on Heat Protection

Something to consider when installing a pot belly stove is a heat shield. These pieces of metal or other non-combustible material considerably reduce the fire hazard from stoves.

Using a heat shield increases safety and decreases the required distances that a stove must be from walls and other household items.

If you choose to install a heat shield on the wall or on the stove, then you can half the distance your pot belly stove must be from a wall or piece of furniture.

For example, with a heat shield, the stove can be 18 inches from a combustible wall or piece of furniture and nine from a non-combustible surface.

Regardless of your decision on a heat shield, you will need a tile, brick, or metal surface on which to place your stove. Do not allow your stove to rest on anything that could possibly catch fire when ashes or coals fall on it, such as carpet or vinyl flooring.

Step 4 - Add Venting

chimney on a roof

A wood stove needs to have proper venting. Code requires a Class A double-walled chimney.

If you don't know about chimneys and venting, either read a guide on safe venting or hire a professional to complete this part of the installation for you.

The chimney is a crucial step in the process of installation, and it can prove dangerous and even deadly if installed improperly.

If carbon monoxide does not properly vent to the outdoors (or if ash and burning bits of wood or coal find their way into the room or into the wallboard), there could be tragic results.

Don't skimp on the chimney installation, and hire an expert if you have any question at all about your ability to safely complete the task.

Step 5 - Install Accessories

Installing a pot belly stove is about creating an aura as much as providing heat. Complete the look with vintage stove pipe décor, decorative trivets, and an old teapot.

You are all set to recreate the meals of yesteryear. Your newly installed pot belly stove is sure to last, and even be passed on from generation to generation.