Wood Stove Safety Tips
Wood stoves present potential safety hazards including:

  1. Excess heat radiating from the stove, stovepipe or chimney.
  2. Sparks or hot coals flying outside the stove.
  3. Flames shooting out of chimney cracks.
  4. Heat conducted from the chimney to a combustible material.
  5. Flames or hot ashes spurting out of the chimney.

Most of these dangers can be avoided with proper installation. Stove manufacturers include detailed safety instructions with each product. In addition, Underwriters Laboratory (UL) tests and lists stoves that meet standards developed in cooperation with the Fireplace Institute, the Wood Energy Institute and the National Fire Protection Association.

Other safety suggestions are
  1. Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer for proper installation and follow them exactly.
  2. Allow a clearance of at least 36" on all sides of the stove to prevent scorching or possible fire. This distance can be reduced by installing approved radiation shields. Such shields should be placed under the stove on all surfaces except concrete.
  3. Keep as much of the pipe as possible inside the house to retain heat. The pipe should be well insulated where it passes through a wall or roof. The Wood Heating Alliance recommends using stove pipe-not galvanized steel ducts-to vent the stove to a chimney.
  4. To vent the stove into an existing chimney, the chimney should be clean, in good repair, of heavy material and large enough to handle the pipe. Furnace chimneys may not be heavy enough, but fire place chimneys usually are. If a fireplace chimney is used, however, the fire place must be sealed off below the stovepipe.
  5. The chimney should extend about 3' above the highest point of the roof and should always be kept clean and in good repair (as should the stove pipe).
  6. A stove designed to burn wood should be used for just that. Do not try to burn coal unless you have a special grate for coal. Some kinds of coal produce far more intense heat than wood and can damage a standard grate and perhaps even the inside of the firebox.