Three Wood Stove Safety Tips You Need to Read

fire protection handbookA cool, crisp wind is starting to blow and carry colorful leaves. As summer fades into autumn, many homeowners begin busting out their wood stoves to keep things nice and toasty. After all, what's better than the smell of wood smoke on a nippy day?

Unfortunately, many wood stove and furnace users are unaware of the risks and fire hazards that they can pose. Fires used for heat account for a whopping 36% of the residential home fires in rural areas each year. This means that wood stoves cause a catastrophic amount of home fires every year.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't use one, of course. It simply means you need to use it safely. So, here are a few tips from the fire protection handbook to help you do just that.

Clean It Regularly.

One of the main reasons wood stoves pose such fire hazards is because of a little thing called creosote, which is a highly combustible fuel that may build up in the stove over time. The fire protection handbook says that it can look like a sticky, black liquid, a flaky, black deposit, or even a hard-glazed tar.

In order to properly ensure that creosote doesn't build up, the stove has to be cleaned with a hard wire brush fairly regularly. The fire protection handbook advises against using chemical cleaners or heavy brushes, as these can damage the stove.

Use the Proper Fuels.

According to the fire protection handbook, the best fuel for a wood stove is a hardwood, like maple, ash, beech, hickory, or oak. To tell if a wood is well-seasoned and ready to burn, the fire protection handbook says to look for cracks in the ends.

Invest in a Fire Extinguisher.

A fire extinguisher is one of the only investments you'll hopefully never have to use. According to a 2002 study by the Fire Extinguishing Trades Association and the Independent Fire Engineering and Distributors Association, portable fire extinguishers effectively put out 80% of fires. The fire protection handbook advises that wood stove users invest in a Class A fire extinguisher, which is used to put out ordinary combustibles, like wood or paper. Once bought, fire protection services need to inspect it yearly, lest the protection equipment's seal has weakened.

With proper cleaning, the right fuels, and the right fire suppression equipment, wood stoves need not be a danger to your home. If you have any questions about what the fire protection handbook suggests, feel free to ask in the comments.