Woodburning Safety & Maintenance
Whether it’s the warm glow of the fire, the crackle of the wood or the deep penetrating warmth, burning wood has a way of making people feel relaxed and right at home. When heating with wood, there are three key elements to achieve optimal economy, environmental responsibility, and efficiency:
- The Woodstove, Fireplace or Fireplace Insert
- The Installation
- The Operation and Maintenance
- Seasoned Firewood
Once you’ve identified the right product for your home and had it installed properly, maintaining, operating, and fueling your appliance properly are the next steps.
Prepare for the Burn…Maintain Your Fireplace, Stove, or Insert
- Stock up the right fuel…seasoned wood, both hard and soft woods.
- Inspect gaskets, door seals, and the chimney annually. Clean the chimney as necessary, by a professional chimney sweep to ensure it’s clear of obstructions and creosote.
- Install a cap at the top of the chimney to avoid the possibility that debris or animals can block the chimney.
- Install both a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. (Make sure the batteries work.)
- Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Clear the area around the fireplace of furniture, books, newspaper, and other potentially flammable materials. (Three feet away is a good rule.)
Build a Safe Fire
- Clean out ashes from previous fires and open the damper before starting a new fire.
- Prepare plenty of kindling. For fireplaces, use grate and cover it with kindling or a manufactured firestarter.
- Close the firescreen and keep glass doors open while operating a fireplace (as appropriate).
- Utilize fireplace tools to tend the fire.
- Burn only dry, seasoned wood in pieces that aren’t too big for your fireplace or stove.
- Follow any specific manufacturer guidelines for your product.
Use Common Sense
For all Appliances
- Never use gasoline or any liquid accelerant to help start a fire.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Never overload the fireplace or stove to avoid burning wood or embers tumbling out.
- Always store ashes in a non-combustible container with a tightly fitting lid and place it away from the house.
- Never burn garbage, rolled newspaper, charcoal, plastic, or chemically-treated or painted wood in the fireplace. They all produce noxious fumes that are dangerous and highly polluting. Additionally, if you have a catalytic stove, the residue from burning certain plastics may ruin the catalytic converter.
- Always make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
- Always keep small children and pets away from the fireplace.
- Never close the damper on your open fireplaces until the embers have completely stopped burning.