Is Your Wood Stove Safe?
Research into safe wood heating installation led to an official code
specifying how wood heat appliances should be installed. Most new stoves
meet recognized standards and come with installation instructions. Many
wood heat appliance retailers, installers and inspectors attend training
programs and can give you up-to-date advice on safe installation if you’re
upgrading your system.
If you already have a wood heat appliance, have it inspected to ensure
it meets today’s safety guidelines – WETT certification. A
fire department, building inspector, wood heat retailer or chimney sweep
may be able to help with this. Remember, the fire department wants to
prevent fires by reducing fire risk. They may do the inspection themselves,
or recommend a complete inspection by a certified installer or chimney
If you're installing a new chimney or wood heating appliance or replacing
one wood stove with another, you'll probably need a building permit, and
the building inspector may automatically inspect your installation.
- If you ever have a fire either in the stovepipe or in the chimney,
have the system inspected by a professional before you use it again.
Serious damage may have been done to the pipes or chimney.
- Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms. Add an
extra alarm near the exit to the room where your wood heat appliance
is located. It can give early warning of smoke from chimney blockage
or from something smoldering close to your appliance.
- Keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach of your wood heat appliance
– but not too close! Use an all-purpose and approved (ABC) fire
extinguisher. Fire departments recommend a 4 or 5 lb 2A-10BC system.
Check it every month for any loss in pressure or noticeable damage and
follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions. Read the label carefully
before using it.
- A flue gas thermometer can tell you if the temperature of your appliance's
flue is within the safe range specified by the manufacturer. Ask a certified
professional to explain how these work.
- Keep heat-proof gloves near your appliance. If a log rolls out of
the firebox, the fastest way to get it off the floor and back inside
is to pick it up – as long as you've got the gloves on!
- Child guards are designed to keep small children away from hot stoves.
A certified professional can give you suggestions. Make sure it is made
from non-combustible material.
- Check the chimney and flue pipe often for creosote. Clean them regularly
– or have them cleaned by a certified professional annually.
- Use properly seasoned wood and follow proper burning techniques to
minimize creosote production.
- Check flue pipes for corrosion at least once a year – the end
of the heating season is a good time. Replace any pipes beginning to
corrode. Don't wait until there are holes – it may be too late!
- Use a covered metal bucket for ashes. Store it carefully outside
or on a concrete floor well away from walls or anything that could burn.
- Check the door latches, hinges and gaskets of your appliance regularly
to be sure they are tight.
Insurance is part of wood heat safety, and making your
system safer ensures you the best possible premium for your insurance.
Call your insurance representative to review your coverage and inform
him or her when you make any changes. This includes adding or changing
a wood stove, modifying a chimney – anything that may influence
the safety of your system. Your insurance representative will want to
know if your unit is certified by Underwriters' Laboratories of Canada
(ULC) or the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) and may refuse to insure
your home if the stove is not certified. He or she will also want to know
if your unit was installed by a professional and if the clearances are
up to the latest Building Code and Fire Code, including a proper floor
pad, venting system and so forth.
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