5 Ways to Make Your Wood Stove More Safe

Posted on: 9 July 2015

Many people worry about installing and using a wood stove in their home because these stoves seem like a greater fire and burn hazard than a standard gas furnace. Every home heating source has its risks, but you should know that there are some things you can do to make sure that your wood stove is safer than ever to use in your home.

1. Burn dry wood.

Burning dry wood is great for fuel efficiency and heat output, but it is also important because dry wood is safer to burn. Wet or green wood requires more oxygen in order to fully combust, which either means leaving the fireplace door ajar, or leaving the damper open. The damper controls how much oxygen is allowed into the fire-burning area, controlling the speed of the burn.

Dry wood burn cleanly and slowly with low oxygen levels, while green wood creates plenty of creosote to coat the chimney. The added creosote, which is highly flammable, and the heat from a green fire, combined with the extra oxygen from the ample air supple, greatly increases the chance of a chimney fire. Also, leaving a door open is always risky for pets and children.

2. Weatherproof your house. 

Heating your home with any type of fuel is dangerous to certain degree, but you can inherently decrease this danger by making your home more energy efficient so that you need to burn less wood less often. The fewer fires you need, the lower the overall risk of fire to the home. Improve energy efficiency in the house by

  • insulating attic and chimney space
  • improving insulation within the home, especially in exterior walls
  • filling holes around doors and windows
  • installing energy efficient windows
  • waterproofing the basement

These above suggestions will decrease your overall need for heat, which is one of the best ways to prevent fire. Staying on top of weatherproofing your home also makes it more safe should a fire actually start-- as the weather-tight home makes it more difficult for a fire to spread quickly.

3. Remove and dispose of ashes properly.

Part of maintaining a wood stove is periodically removing the ashes. Removing ashes from the stove helps a fire to burn more efficiently and reduces creosote production. Also, ashes can store residual heat after a fire burns out, extending the risk of fire. Its better to remove ashes frequently from the stove. However, because ashes can contain hot coals, they should never be emptied while warm and they should never be stored in the house.

Ashes should be removed promptly. They can be mixed into garden soil or be stored in a shallow metal trash can until they are cool enough to throw away with the trash at the curb. Ashes have a tendency to insulate themselves, so be careful when spreading ashes on the lawn or in the garden, as some embers can stay warm for weeks and light dry vegetation on fire. 

4. Keep all flammable materials away from the wood stove.

This tip seems like common sense, but many stove have a small "ledge" in front of the doors to catch falling ashes when the doors are opened. Debris like dry bark pieces and slivers of wood can pile up on this ledge, and as the stove becomes hot, these can light on fire. Keep kindling baskets and logs well away from the actual stove, and sweep the ledge before lighting a new fire. 

Wood stove do not have to be a major fire hazard. They can be a great alternative heat source for your family. By following a few simply guidelines, you will be able to sleep soundly and snug because of your safe and trusty wood stove. For more tips or assistance, visit resources like http://www.aquarec.com.