5 Safety Tips for Wood-Burning Stoves
You just got a wood-burning stove installed in your home and you’re super excited about spending nights in cozying up around the fire with friends and family.
Stoves provide a relaxing environment. They are an excellent source of heat and can save you major money on your heating bill each year.
Plus, if you’re selling your home, you’re in luck. A wood stove is often highly sought after by new homeowners.
But, you still need to be very careful when using a wood stove, as they come with many safety hazards. Heating equipment is the leading cause of fires in homes in the U.S. Understanding how to prevent dangerous fires is key to keeping your family safe this winter.
In this article, we’ll go over the top 5 safety tips for wood-burning stoves. Keep reading to find out what they are.
1. Buying the Stove
When it comes to ensuring safety for wood-burning stoves, it all starts with the initial purchase.
When you buy your wood stove, make sure to choose one that is the appropriate size for your needs.
Choosing one that’s too small may tempt you to run it hotter than it’s capable of. This overheating can not only damage the stove itself, but also other parts of your home. This could potentially lead to a house fire.
Choosing one that’s too large can result in under heating, which can have just as dangerous of results as overheating. Under heating can cause creosote to build up in your chimney. Creosote is combustible, and the buildup of creosote is the main cause of chimney fires.
Also, before purchasing a wood stove, be sure to check for any deterioration or damage, especially if you are buying used. And, make sure to avoid buying a stove that was made before 1990.
In 1990, stricter EPA guidelines were enforced on woodstove manufacturers. These guidelines required the stoves to meet stricter emission standards. Therefore, make sure the stove you purchase has an EPA Phase II Certified sticker on it.
After purchasing your stove, the next step is following appropriate safety standards when installing it.
Most wood-burning stoves come with manuals that detail very specific assembly instructions. Make sure to follow these exactly.
If you do not feel comfortable installing the stove yourself, you can always have a professional do it for you.
Otherwise, keep the following installation tips in mind:
Make sure you choose a surface that’s strong enough to support the weight of the wood stove. There should be combustible flooring below the stove, as well as 12 inches to each side and 18 inches past the front of the loading doors.
Also, before installing, make sure your chimney is capable of accommodating your wood stove. Most chimneys are built to accommodate coal, gas, or oil furnaces. In order to figure out if your chimney is compatible, you will need to have an installer take a look at it.
In general, it’s best to keep your stovepipes running through your walls and out of the roof as opposed to outside through a wall. Running it outside will cause it to become less efficient due to rapid cooling. This then causes creosote build up.
Installing a wood stove gate or a wood fence around the stove should be a priority if you have small children or pets.
Stovepipe thermometers help you are cheap and make it easy for you to figure out if you’re firing your wood-burning stoves too hot or too cold. The manufacturer of your wood-burning stove can help you determine the right placement for the thermometer.
Once your wood-burning stove is installed, your job isn’t done. Keeping up with the maintenance of the stove will help ensure safety and longevity.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Have a maintenance specialist check your wood-burning stove and your chimney once per year before the heating season starts
- Check for creosote accumulation before starting up the stove. Do this about every two weeks until you are familiar with the stove’s behavior
- Plug the top of the flue and then start a small smoky fire to test the soundness of the chimney
4. Light Wood-burning Stoves Properly
Lighting a stove for the first time isn’t as straightforward as many people think it is.
Here are some things to keep in mind when lighting your wood-burning stove:
- Do not use lighter fluid to light the stove. This could cause an explosion.
- Instead, use dry wood that’s a mixture of both small and large chunks
- Do not put charcoal in the fireplace. This can release harmful carbon monoxide into your home
- Do not burn anything other than wood in your stove
- Do not make a larger fire than the stove can handle
Also, make sure you choose safe wood to burn in your fireplace. Yes- there are some types of wood that are simply not safe to burn. In general, you’ll want to stay away from burning wood that is either wet or green. These types of wood can cause odor issues, produce an excess amount of smoke, and cause creosote build up.
5. Keep Small Children Away
As we stated earlier, if you have small children in your home or are planning to have small children over, you should definitely build a fence around your wood-burning stove.
Also, even with a fence, you should never, under any circumstances, leave children unattended around wood-burning stoves. All it takes is one second for a child to decide to test the heat of the stove by sticking their hand on it or in it.
Or, if they get too close a spark might fly at them, causing severe burns. This could easily lead to a trip to the emergency room and permanent injury.
Safety Tips for Wood-burning Stoves: Wrap Up
Wood-burning stoves are an enjoyable addition to any home.
Follow these safety tips and you’ll be able to enjoy your wood-burning stove for years to come.
And, if you have any questions about your wood-burning stove, please do not hesitate to contact us today.