Although Summer is upon us… We all know there is nothing comfier than relaxing around a bright, warm fire with your family on a cold winter night. Many people love wood burning stoves for their excellent heat that keep their houses warm without increasing their heating bills. These stoves can also help you sell your home faster and at a significantly higher value. However, to continue enjoying the benefits of wood heat, there are certain preventative measures you must take to keep you and your family safe at all times. Here are 7 wood burner safety tips every homeowner needs to know…
Installation and Inspection
If you are planning to buy a new stove, make sure it is installed by a professional. This will ensure the job is done right the first time, thereby preventing accidental fires and unnecessary wastage of time and money. These experts will also adhere to the required municipal codes as well as minimum clearance distance from combustibles when installing your unit.
Ensure your stove is also inspected thoroughly at least once a year by a professional chimney sweep for ash and creosote accumulation, bird nests and cracks. Creosote buildup in the chimney and flu pipe is a common cause of fires in homes with wood burning stoves, so do not light your next fire without having your stove properly inspected. Spring is usually a good time to service your stove since chimney sweeps and stove installers are less busy.
Preventing Heat Damage
Unlike fireplaces, burning stoves heat much larger areas and produce warmth from all sides. Therefore, consider installing a heat shield beside or behind your stove to prevent the nearly walls, curtains, carpet and even the clothes you are wearing from being damaged by heat. Your unit should also be placed on a non-combustible surface like tile floor to reduce fire incidents.
Carbon monoxide buildup and poisoning can happen if the area around your wood burner does not have adequate ventilation. Luckily, you can prevent this by maintaining proper ventilation in the wood burning area. You also need to place carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house to alert you when there is a buildup of this deadly gas. Some of the common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea and headache. In worst cases, breathing this toxic gas for too long can cause death.
Accidents are more likely to happen when you are under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. Therefore, it is very important that you use common sense and avoid being around the fire when you are intoxicated. In addition, you should never go to sleep or leave the house when the fire is still burning.
Always Supervise Small Children Around Wood Stoves
Since small kids are naturally curious, they will try to get close to the burning fire or put their hands into it to test how hot it is. For this reason, you should never leave your young ones unattended around wood burning stoves even if it is just for 5 seconds.
Starting A Fire
Before lighting your stove, ensure the damper is wide open to allow for good flow of air. Keep the damper fully open till the fire is out and the ashes are completely cool to the touch. In addition, never use gasoline, kerosene, charcoal lighter fluid, wrapping paper and other highly flammable substances to start or rekindle a fire. This is because they will instantly create dangerous fireballs, causing accumulation of combustible materials in the chimney.
On the same note, consider building your fire using a few dry seasoned pieces of wood, as they produce more heat and prevent soot buildup. Avoid burning too much wood at a time as this can cause creosote and tar to build up in your stove pipes and chimney, creating a fire hazard. Also, be sure to wait until the ashes are completely cool before you remove them from the stove.
Install Fire Extinguishers And Smoke Detectors
Install smoke detectors throughout your house and inspect them regularly to ensure they are always in good working condition. You also need to be ready for any emergencies by having a fully functional fire extinguisher in a location that is known to all your family members. Make sure everyone knows how to use it properly.
With these wood burner safety tips in place, when it comes to the Winter – you’ll be able to enjoy the warmth of your stove safely all winter long.