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Wood Stoves

Many homes in the United States use wood stoves as a primary and secondary source of heat.  It is important that such items and associated flues and chimneys operate
properly and are well maintained, as they may pose a fire hazard.

Wood stoves are very popular in rural areas.  In some regions of the United States, such as Colorado, the use of wood stoves is regulated based on the air quality.

The following information details the issues surrounding  wood  stoves, and provides some helpful tips that you may wish to consider and apply in your own home.

Clearance to combustibles
The single largest concern with a wood stove is its clearance to combustibles. Many stoves are often installed by the homeowner or unqualified people who violate the required clearances. Manufacturer’s specifications should be obtained in order to verify that the clearances are indeed accurate and comply with regulations.

A common mistake that installers make is they assume that if a fireproof material is installed between the wood stove and combustible materials, they are safe. What they fail to realize is that heat will conduct through ceramic tile, asbestos boards, metal or other materials that are fireproof.

When a combustible material, such as wood, is exposed to heat for extended periods of time, the wood fibers break down and the kindling temperature is significantly reduced. Soft woods have a kindling temperature of approximately 700 to 800 degrees.  However, when the wood fibers are broken down into an ash, the kindling temperature may be reduced to as little as 350 to 450 degrees.

Burning Hazard
Wood stoves are very hazardous to young children for obvious reasons. U.S. Inspect recommends a screening or children’s fence at or around the stove to protect small children.

Hearths

Hearths for wood stoves must be the same as they are on fireplaces. (See masonry fireplaces.)

Common Defects

  • Sharing a flue with a fireplace of another device
  • Improper clearance to combustibles
  • Routing a stovepipe through an interior wall without proper clearance to combustibles
  • Unsupported stovepipes
  • Sags in stovepipes