Wood burning stoves provide heat during cold winter days, but they can also be hazardous when improperly installed and poorly maintained. All wood stoves and furnaces follow specific minimum clearance of distance between the stove and combustible materials. Heat generated by the stove can cause a fire when it penetrates combustibles. Here are tips to help you and your family stay safe.
Follow proper clearance
It is crucial to maintain the proper distance between the wood burning stove and combustible items. There are safety codes you should follow and most of them require putting it at least three feet away from rugs, furniture and other items. Insufficient clearance could cause the heat to penetrate combustibles, which could lead to a serious fire.
Manage air correctly
Air comes in two forms when using a wood burning stove. First is the air that feeds the fire bed, and the second is the air that feeds the flames on top of it. The secondary air is more important because this is where the energy released by the burning gases comes from. Thus, it is important not to close the air vent completely. It is also important not to leave the door open unless necessary when lighting. This makes the stove less efficient because warm air just goes up the chimney.
Use the right chimney
The chimney used for a wood burning stove must be factory or masonry built and UL certified. Never use an unlined chimney or a single brick chimney for a wood stove because it deteriorates rather easily. Some homes still have unlined chimneys made of double brick. This is safe as long as there are no missing bricks or cracked mortar. Metal chimneys on the other hand are not suitable for coal stoves because the gases can weaken the chimney over time.
Use a good venting system
The venting system is also crucial to the safety of your stove. Most fires start with the venting system. The vent should be short, having only two or more right elbows. Sections of pipe should have fastened ends that face down the stove. Clearance of the stovepipe is also important. It must not pass through your ceiling, wall or floor but directly to your chimney.
Use the right fuel
Green wood has high moisture content and is not efficient to use. The right fuel is one that has been dried properly, such as kiln dried logs to make fuelling a lot easier. You can also buy green wood and then dry it yourself, but this can take longer. It is also essential to use the right amount of wood when lighting the fire. Ideally, it is best to burn wood with 20% or moisture or less for it is more efficient. Additionally, it releases fewer harmful particulates and builds up less sooty deposits that can lead to fire as compared to wet wood.
Safety is always a priority for every home. Home heating can start a fire when improperly handled. Clean your chimney and stovepipe regularly. It also helps to have it inspected by a professional at least once a year. This removes hazardous soot and creosote that can build up over time. If you have pets and small kids, consider using a safety gate around the stove and make sure that the area is always clean. Collect ashes every after use and dampen them outdoors.