How to Safely Use Wood Burning Stoves

guide to using a wood burning stove

Wood burning stoves are a great, cost-effective way to warm your home, and there’s nothing like cozying up with your family next to the fireplace. Even though wood burning stoves are a great addition to almost any home, it’s important to know how to keep your home safe from a fire. This article is here to help provide you with some information on wood stove safety.

Safe Wood Burning Stove Installation

All wood stoves have specific clearances for all dimensions around the stove – front, back, sides, bottom, and top. Without this spaces, heat produced my the stove can cause nearby combustibles to ignite, and may cause a serious fire.

Proper Chimney Safety

The chimney for a wood burning stove must be masonry, or specified by the stove manufacturer and factory built. You should never use and unlined, single brick chimney for a wood burning stove. Single brick chimneys tend to deteriorate and can allow potentially dangerous situations to develop. Many older homes have unlined chimneys that are double-bricked. These can be safe for wood stoves, however it is best to check for cracked mortar, and loose or missing bricks.

Ventilation for Wood Burning Stoves

Ventilation is the key to preventing a fire disaster in your home. 90% of all stove related fires are caused by ventilation issues. A venting system is not a chimney – it consists of lengths of 24-gauge or heavier insulated stovepipe which connects the stove to an approved chimney.

Vents should be as short as possible, usually with no more than 2 right angle elbows. The stovepipe must be assembles with the crimped male ends of the sections facing down toward the stove. You should always fasten stovetop sections with at least 3 sheet-metal screws or other fasteners.

How to Operate and Maintain Your Wood Burning Stove

Use Proper Fuel

The best fuel for a woodturning stove are hardwoods like maple, beech, ask, hickory, or oak. Wood should be cut, split, and air dried for at least a year before burning. The best hardwood for burning tends to show cracks in the ends.

Regular Cleaning

Once a year, you should use a wire brush to clean your stovepipe and chimney, or hire a professional. It is also helpful to occasionally use a controlled, high temperature fire to clean your stove, similar to cleaning your oven.

Avoid creosote buildup

Creosote is a highly combustible fuel that burns intensely. Slow burning fires, such as those found in modern wood burning stoves, cause this buildup of creosote on the walls of the stovepipe and chimney.

Creosote takes 3 forms:

  • A sticky liquid that will run down the chimney and stovepipe
  • A flaky black deposit that is easily removed by brushing
  • A hard, glazed tar which is almost impossible to remove, except by a certified chimney sweep

Even when you take the proper precautions, home heating fires can still occur. Use these best practices to help your family avoid the danger of a house fire. If a house fire occurs, Elite Restoration is here to help.