General Precautions: No matter what method is used to heat a home, you must ensure that your heating system is safe. This means regular maintenance, keeping hot areas free of clutter, and burning the right fuel.
Chimney Fires: Dry, seasoned wood is critical to avoiding chimney fires. A wood stove fire needs to be kept burning hot to allow the creosote in its smoke to exit the chimney before cooling below 212°F, which causes creosote to build up in the chimney. Allowing a wood stove to burn too hot can lead to a chimney fire if there is creosote buildup in the chimney. Although many chimney fires burn up the creosote and then go out, there is a good chance that a chimney fire will ignite wood in walls and rafters. It can also damage the chimney by causing the lining or bricks to crack or shift.
Fumes: Wood and coal stoves are vented through chimneys because burning wood and coal creates people-killing poisonous fumes. In modern, high efficiency stoves, the smoke is minimal if the stove is burned properly. It is advisable to check for loose flue pipe joints and cracks in the chimney that will allow the poisonous gasses to enter a house.
Safety Precautions for Residential Stoves
- Always have a working CO alarm when using a stove.
- Make sure your coal or wood stove has a flue pipe fastened tightly together with at least 3 sheet metal screws at each joint (count yours!) and a clean, gas tight chimney.
- If burning oil-coated coal, be sure to have the proper type of stove.
- If burning wood, always use well-seasoned, dry wood.
- Keep children away from hot surfaces.
- Never leave children unattended in a room with a burning stove.
- Keep tripping hazards away from stoves.
- Keep combustibles like drapes and furniture away from stoves.
- Check for proper installation of the chimney connector through a combustible wall.
- Inspect chimney connectors for creosote buildup.
- Haul ashes outdoors in a metal can or hopper, always keeping the ash container far from the house.