With winter approaching, many homeowners are preparing to fire up their wood stoves for warmth and comfort. Wood stoves have been a popular heating source for centuries, but the question of whether they cause house fires lingers in the minds of many.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the factors that contribute to house fires and examine the role that wood stoves play in this type of disaster.
Whether you’re a seasoned wood stove user or considering installing one in your home, it’s important to understand the potential risks and take steps to prevent fires.
So, let’s explore this topic in more detail.
Do Wood Stoves Cause House Fires
This will ensure that the stove is properly vented and that there are no leaks in the exhaust system.
In addition, it is important to have your wood stove inspected and cleaned regularly. This should be done at least once a year, preferably before the start of the heating season.
A professional can identify any issues with the stove and make any necessary repairs.
Another way to prevent house fires from wood stoves is to use the right wood. Hardwoods such as oak, maple, and hickory burn hotter and longer than softwoods such as pine and spruce.
This means that hardwoods will produce less creosote buildup in the chimney, which is a major cause of fires.
How to Prevent Wood Stoves Fires
Preventing wood stove fires is crucial to ensure the safety of your home and loved ones. Here are some important tips to help you prevent wood stove fires:
Install a certified wood stove: Make sure your wood stove is certified by a reputable testing organization, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes.
This includes proper clearance from combustible materials, proper chimney installation, and the use of a proper chimney cap.
Keep the stove and surrounding area clean: Regularly clean your wood stove, including the firebox, flue, and chimney, to remove creosote buildup and other debris that can increase the risk of a chimney fire.
Keep the area around the wood stove clear of combustible materials, such as furniture, drapes, and rugs.
Use dry and seasoned firewood: Only burn dry and seasoned firewood in your wood stove.
Wet or green wood can produce more creosote and increase chimney buildup, increasing the risk of a chimney fire. Store firewood outside in a dry, well-ventilated area, away from the house.
Use a spark screen or glass door: Use a spark screen or glass door on your wood stove to prevent embers or sparks from escaping and igniting combustible materials in the room.
Never leave the fire unattended: Never leave a fire burning in your wood stove unattended.
Always make sure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving the house or going to bed.
Use a proper ash container: Dispose of ashes from your wood stove in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.
Place the container outside, away from the house, and never dispose of hot ashes in combustible containers or near combustible materials.
Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors: Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, particularly near wood stoves and sleeping areas. Test them regularly and replace batteries as needed.
Have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually: Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a qualified professional at least once a year or more frequently if you use your wood stove frequently.
The clean, well-maintained chimney is less likely to experience creosote buildup and fires.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions: Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating and maintaining your wood stove.
This includes properly using dampers, air controls, and other features to ensure safe and efficient operation.
Uses Of Wood Stoves
Wood stoves have been used for centuries for heat and cooking in homes. Here are some common uses of wood stoves:
Heating: Wood stoves provide heat in homes, cabins, and other buildings.
They are often used in areas where other heating sources may be limited or costly, such as rural areas or during power outages.
Wood stoves can efficiently heat a room or an entire house, and many modern wood stoves are designed with features that make them highly efficient and environmentally friendly.
Cooking: Wood stoves can be used for cooking, especially in rustic settings or off-grid locations. Some wood stoves have cooktops or ovens, allowing cooking or baking.
Wood-fired cooking can provide a unique and traditional method of preparing food, particularly for those who enjoy a rustic or back-to-nature lifestyle.
Ambiance and aesthetics: Wood stoves are often used for their ambiance and aesthetics, as they create a warm and inviting atmosphere in a room.
The sight and sound of a crackling fire in a wood stove can be comforting and soothing, creating a cozy and inviting environment in a home or cabin.
Emergency preparedness: Wood stoves can be used as a backup heating source during emergencies or natural disasters, such as power outages or extreme weather conditions.
They provide a reliable heat source and cooking when other utilities are unavailable, making them a valuable asset for emergency preparedness.
Sustainable and renewable heating: Wood stoves can be a sustainable and renewable heat source, as wood is a renewable resource when harvested responsibly.
Using wood as a fuel source in a wood stove can be an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, as it produces lower carbon emissions and is a renewable energy source.
Off-grid living: Wood stoves are often used in off-grid or remote locations where other heating options may be limited or unavailable.
They can provide reliable and efficient heat without relying on external power sources, making them suitable for off-grid living or remote cabins, where access to electricity or other utilities may be limited.
Recreational use: Wood stoves are sometimes used for recreational purposes, such as camping, hiking, or outdoor activities.
Portable wood stoves can be used for cooking or heating outdoors, providing warmth and comfort during camping or other outdoor adventures.
Percentage Of House Fires Caused By Wood Stoves
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), wood United States. The NFPA reports that between 2014 and 2018, wood stoves were responsible for an average of 9,900 house fires per year, resulting in an average of 90 deaths, 800 injuries, and $209 million in property damage.
These alarming statistics highlight the need for proper safety procedures when using wood stoves.
One of the primary causes of wood stove fires is improper installation.
It is essential to have a professional install your wood stove and chimney to ensure it is up to code and meets all safety regulations.
A poorly installed wood stove or chimney can lead to dangerous creosote buildup, which can easily ignite and cause a fire.
Another common cause of wood stove fires is improper use.
Following the manufacturer’s instructions for using and maintaining your wood stove is crucial.
This includes using the right type of fuel, not overloading the stove, and regularly cleaning the chimney.
Cause Of Wood Stoves Fires
There are several common causes of wood stove fires, including:
Creosote buildup: Creosote is a flammable substance that accumulates in the chimney and stovepipe of wood stoves over time.
It is formed when the wood is burned incompletely, and it can build up and create a highly combustible layer inside the chimney and stovepipe.
Creosote is a leading cause of chimney fires in wood stoves, as it can ignite and cause a dangerous and potentially devastating fire.
Improper installation: Incorrect installation of wood stoves can result in fires.
This includes improper placement of the stove, improper clearance of combustible materials, improper stovepipe installation, or using incorrect materials for the chimney or stovepipe.
Improper installation can create hazardous conditions that can lead to fires.
Overloading the stove: Overloading the wood stove with too much wood or burning wood that is too wet or green can lead to fires.
Overloading can cause excessive heat buildup, which can result in the stove or chimney getting too hot and potentially igniting nearby combustible materials.
Lack of maintenance: Poor or inadequate maintenance of wood stoves can also lead to fires.
This includes neglecting regular chimney cleaning, failing to remove creosote buildup, not cleaning the stovepipe, and neglecting other routine maintenance tasks.
Lack of maintenance can increase the risk of fires and reduce the overall safety of wood stove operation.
Using improper fuel: Burning improper fuels in wood stoves, such as trash, treated wood, or other materials not intended for wood stoves, can lead to fires.
These materials can release toxic fumes, produce excessive heat, or create sparks or embers that can ignite combustible materials in the stove or chimney.
Operating wood stoves with damaged or malfunctioning components: Using wood stoves with damaged or malfunctioning components, such as cracked stovepipes, damaged chimney caps, or faulty dampers, can increase the risk of fires.
These issues can compromise the safety and efficiency of the wood stove, leading to potential fire hazards.
Human error: Human error, such as improper operation of the wood stove, leaving the stove unattended, or not following proper safety precautions, can also lead to fires.
It is essential to operate wood stoves according to the manufacturer’s instructions and follow proper safety practices at all times.
What To Do If Your Wood Stoves Catches Fire
If your wood stove catches fire, it is crucial to act quickly and follow proper safety procedures to minimize the risk of injury or property damage.
Here are the steps to take if your wood stove catches fire:
Stay calm and immediately alert others in the vicinity. Activate the fire alarm or call emergency services (such as 911) to report the fire.
Do not attempt to extinguish the fire with water or other liquids, as this can cause a steam explosion or spread the fire.
If available, use a fire extinguisher suitable for a wood fire, and follow the proper operation instructions.
If the fire is small and manageable, you may attempt to smother it with a fire-resistant blanket or use a Class A fire extinguisher specifically designed for wood fires.
Close the air vents on the wood stove to cut off the air supply, which can help to slow down or contain the fire.
Evacuate the building immediately and do not attempt to re-enter until it is deemed safe by the fire department.
If possible, close any doors or windows in the room where the wood stove is located to prevent the fire from spreading to other building areas.
If the fire becomes unmanageable or starts spreading, evacuate the building and move to a safe location outside, away from the fire.
Do not attempt to fight the fire if it poses a threat to your safety.
Once outside, please wait for the fire department to arrive and provide them with relevant information about the location and nature of the fire.
Do not re-enter the building until it has been inspected and declared safe by the fire department.
Wood stove fires can be dangerous and devastating if proper precautions are not taken. It is essential to follow best practices for wood stove usage, including regular maintenance, safe operation, and proper disposal of ashes.
Preventative measures, such as installing fire-resistant materials, using spark screens, and keeping flammable materials away from the wood stove, can greatly reduce the risk of fires.
In the event of a wood stove fire, quick and decisive action is crucial, including activating fire alarms, calling emergency services, attempting to extinguish the fire with appropriate means if safe to do so, and evacuating the building.
Following proper fire safety protocols and seeking professional help when needed can help prevent wood stove fires and ensure the safety of individuals and properties.
Hi, I m Aaron Smith, a firefighter, and creator of Firefighterline.com, a website that provides top-notch training courses for firefighting organizations. After completing my studies, I quickly rose through the fire service ranks, eventually becoming Captain at one of the busiest fire departments in the state.