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Don’t place pellet stove on carpet

Your Home Improvements

Posted: September 26, 2008 7:58 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hello Mr. Lamoureux,
I’m one of your readers and I want to put in a pellet stove. Are you familiar with these? I just had my living room carpeted, and I heard they are safe enough to place on top of carpeting. Is this true, or does it have to be on bare concrete? And what sort of precautions do I have to take to vent up through the roof?
Jack W.

Hi Jack,
Yes, I’ve installed a couple of pellet stoves. They are a good, inexpensive source of heat for the winter and use wooden pellets for the fuel source.  As gas and oil prices keep rising, these stoves will become more and more popular.

The stove does not need to sit directly on the bare slab, but from a safety standpoint, do not place it on the carpet. The recommendation would be to cut the carpet back and place the stove on common red brick if that falls within your aesthetic, or tiles. Not so much because of the heat, but because of the embers. I’d come out at least 8” in front of the stove with some kind of a non-combustible surface.

The manufacturer will call out the mounting distances from the wall. Follow these instructions carefully.
These stoves come with an internal igniter, and some have thermostats which are all digital and will save on the amount of pellets you are burning. You’d place the pellets in the reservoir and the stat controls the amount of pellets that an auger feeds into the stove. Once it reaches the desired temperature, the pellets stop dropping and the flame goes out. 

For the exhaust, I’m sure the manufacturer will give directions for a wall vent. I’d follow that. Just bore a hole through the wall and let it vent outside as opposed to going up through the roof. With any roof penetrations, you are asking for leaks.

Hey Robert,
I bought some old round top doors that I would like to install throughout my house. Do you have any advice on how to install them and where would I get the curved molding for the front and back?
Pete J.

Hi Pete,
Did you also get the frames or just the doors? Let me know if the arch top doors are a different width as your current doors and I will go into more detail about how to reframe that opening.

If they are the same width, your first step would be to open up the drywall above the door frame.
There is a header there that will have to be raised to make room for the arch.  Measure out how much clearance you will need and move the header. There will be some cripple studs between the top of the header and the double top plate that will need to be shortened or removed. You will then need to remove and install new jack studs that frame the opening; going from the floor to the bottom of the header. Always replace these studs — never piece it in.  Do it once, do it right.

I would then form it out with some plywood arches with the radius to match and install on both sides of the header and studs to attach your drywall and to give yourself some meat to nail the molding.
Most of your door and molding stores will carry arched jams and molding. Depending on the age of your doors, the new material might have to be custom made.

Hello Robert,
I am interested in getting my general contractors license. I noticed that you are a general, with licenses in electrical and plumbing. If you are a general, aren’t you allowed to do electrical and plumbing anyway?  Why would you need the extra licenses?
Mike R.

Hi Mike,
If it’s my job and I am handling the trades, then I can do the work. The California State License Board has very specific rules concerning working as a prime, meaning I have a direct contractual agreement with the owners or representatives of the property; or as a sub-contractor which is hired by the prime who is hired by the owner. 

For example, there are many instances where another GC might not have the man power, or experience or is uncomfortable in doing electrical work that will sub us in for an electrical job. In this case, I would have to show my C-10. The same would be true for plumbing.  Without a C-36, I would not be eligible to be subbed in. I’m doing this legally but of course, you see generals get subbed in all of the time without specialty licenses. They are starting to crack down on these guys. With the building department, if you go in for permits on electrical and you don’t have that license, you don’t get that permit.

Hey Robert,
I work in maintenance for a property and we are spending a fortune on fluorescent bulbs. We are putting them in recessed cans. They are the right size but they don’t last. They are supposed to last 6,000 hours, but are burning out every 3 days. Could this be a wiring problem?  I’d appreciate any info you can give me.

Hello J.G.,
It sounds like you have a ballasted fixture and are using the wrong lamps. A ballast is used to surge electricity to illuminate the lamp and then regulates power to keep the light burning at the right luminosity. If you are using a bulb not designed to work with that ballast, it will either be damaged by the initial surge or power or by the regulation of electricity and it will burn out quickly. Eventually, the ballast will burn out and with those can fixtures, you sometimes have to break the drywall or stucco to get in there and replace them. See if there is any information in the housing about what type of lamps to use and put in the recommended bulbs.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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