Wood Stove & Fireplace Safety

Back To Articles Fire in a wood burning stove fireplace
With proper installation, regular maintenance and careful operation of wood stoves and fireplaces, there is typically little safety risk.
The resurgence of the wood-burning stove as a supplementary source of heat has led to an alarming — and growing — number of fires, traceable to careless installation or misuse.

If a wood stove is installed properly and carefully operated, there is little safety risk. However, many people take shortcuts in an effort to save money or time. This often results in fires that destroy property and endanger lives. Always have a fire escape plan that you practice regularly with your family.

Here are some important safety do's and don'ts when it comes to fireplace safety:

  • 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 that extends at least 36 inches around the perimeter of the stove.
  • Do have a mason or other competent person inspect the chimney.
  • Do burn only dry, well-seasoned wood. Burning green wood will cause combustible creosote to buildup in your stovepipe and chimney.Creosote is the cause of most chimney fires.
  • Do consider opening a window a crack for ventilation.
  • Do dispose of ashes in a closed metal container outside and away from the house.
  • Do have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Replace any detectors that are more than 10 years old.
  • Do keep a filled fire extinguisher handy; make sure to replace it if it's beyond the expiration date printed on its label.
  • Do have your chimney inspected at the start of every burning season.
  • 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 sealed off.
  • Don't connect a wood stove to a chimney serving another appliance or burning other fuels.
  • Don't start a stove fire with flammable liquids, such as gasoline.
  • Don't burn trash in a wood stove; doing so can start a chimney fire.
  • Don't use your wood-burning stove for cooking.
  • Don't store wood or other combustibles beside or behind the stove. Keep material at least 3 feet away from the stove.
  • Don't burn pressure-treated, painted or stained wood because it contains toxic chemicals.
  • Don't start the season without a chimney inspection.


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