While wood stoves do a great job at heating smaller areas of the home, using them as a supplementary source of heat has led to an alarming – and growing – number of fires traceable to careless installation or misuse. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) estimates that wood stoves cause over 4,000 residential fires every year.
If you own a wood stove that you use to heat your home, know that it is a serious fire hazard and take the proper precautions to keep your home and your family safe:
DO—make sure there is enough clearance between the stove and combustible materials, including floors, walls, and ceilings.
DO—place the stove on a noncombustible, fire-resistant base.
DO—have a mason or other competent person inspect the chimney.
DO—burn only dry, well-seasoned wood.
DO—consider opening a nearby window a crack for ventilation.
DO—dispose of ashes in a closed metal container outside away from the house.
DON’T—extend the stove pipe through a wall or ceiling unless there is no possible alternative.
DON’T—connect a wood stove to a fireplace chimney unless the fireplace has been properly sealed off.
DON’T—connect a wood stove to a chimney serving another appliance burning other fuels.
DON’T—start a stove fire with flammable fluids, such as gasoline.
DON’T—burn trash on a stove; doing so can start a chimney fire.
DON’T—let a wood fire burn unattended or overnight.
As long as you follow these 12 principles and continue to maintain and inspect your wood stove, you are significantly decreasing the chances of suffering a devastating house fire.