Wood-Burning Stoves: Keeping Your Family Safe
Wood-burning stoves can be an inexpensive way to heat your home during the winter months – and the ambiance isn’t bad either. However, improperly operating your stove could cause indoor air-quality issues, or worse, start a chimney fire. Make sure you know the proper protocol before you light a fire this season.
Careless installation of a wood-burning stove is one of the most common causes of household fires. Be sure your stove is made of sturdy, suitable material, such as cast iron or steel. Look for stoves listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or other recognized testing laboratories. If possible, consult a professional. They are trained to adhere to the following installation guidelines:
- Place the stove on a noncombustible, fire-resistant base,A?such as a concrete slab, ceramic tile or brick.
- Make sure there is enough clearance between the stove and combustible materials, including floors, walls and ceilings.
- Check with local authorities to be sure you comply with local fire and building codes.
Venting the stove is the most important part of the wood-burning system. 90% of all stove-related fires originate within the venting system. Always remember:
- Do notA?extend the stove pipe through a wall or ceiling unless there is no possible alternative.
- Do notA?connect a wood stove to a fireplace chimney unless the fireplace has been sealed off.
- Consult your stove’s instructions for using the damper, as this will control the airflow in the stove. If the damper remains more than halfway open, there will too much airflow to produce heat, butA?the wood will burn quickly.
3.A?Operation & Maintenance
Wood-burning stoves require proper operation and regular maintenance to ensure safety and avoid creosote buildup.
- Make sure you are using proper fuel such as oak, hickory, maple or other hardwood. The wood should be dry and well-seasoned, and storage in a shed or under a tarp is recommended.
- Use a wire brush to clean your stovepipe and chimney at least once a year.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby for added safety and make sure your Smoke/CO Detectors are working properly.
- Consider keeping a pot of water on top of stoveA?so the air does not become dry and harsh.
- Always dispose of ashes in a closed metal container, outside of the home.
- Never let a fire in your stove burn unattended, or overnight.
Before the heating season each year, check and clean your chimney and stove pipe carefully and make any needed repairs. More frequent checks are advisable if you are building up creosote and soot.
Following these tips will ensure you can heat your home safety all winter long.A?For more safety tips, read the LivSecure blog.