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Considerations When Using Wood Heaters

By: Mike O'Brien

Considerations When Using Wood Heaters

While wood heaters are a wonderful heating source for homes it is important to remember that there are additional safety concerns if a wood heater is being used in a living space in a house. There are also ways to make your wood heater more efficient to get the most out of the wood that you are burning. For the most part good common sense will be all that is needed to operate a wood heater safely and efficiently.


The outside surface of a wood heater gets hot enough to cook food and boil water, and in fact may reach temperatures of 1000 C, so care must be taken to prevent accidental burns from contact with the heater. In addition care must be taken to properly maintain the flue and heater to prevent fires from starting. In order to safely operate a wood heater consider the following:

* If young children are present safety screens should be placed around the wood heater to prevent any burns. Children will be naturally inquisitive about the fire and may reach out to touch the glass door or the heater itself. The screens should be far enough away from the wood heater to prevent a child from leaning over the screen or falling onto the wood heater.

* Children should not be left unsupervised in a room with a wood heater.

* Children should not add wood to the heater as they may fall forward or burn themselves by accidentally making contact with the surface area.

* If the heater is equipped with a cooking surface make sure children are well supervised with preparing food.

* Make sure the heater is the correct distance from walls and ceilings to allow proper clearances.

* Keep any and all furniture, papers or other combustible items away from the wood heater at all times.

* Use a floor protector that is the correct size to stop any sparks or debris from the wood heater from getting on the carpet or floor. This will prevent fires and also prevent any damage to the floor covering.

* Correctly install the flue through the ceiling and provide the correct protection around the flue to prevent build-up of heat and possible fire in the flue. Flue fires occur when creosote builds up in the flue and ignites. A flue fire can reach temperatures of 1200 C.


Wood is a very efficient heating source. In order to get the maximum efficiency from your wood heater follow these simple tips:

* Use wood that is seasoned and dry to provide maximum heat with a minimum amount of smoke.

* Know what type of wood in your area burns with the highest BTU's for maximum heat production with the smallest possible amount of fuel.

* Have the correct sized flue and chimney for both safety reasons and to provide the correct about of venting and amount of pressure or draft to pull in fresh air for combustion.

* Avoid allowing wood or ashes to smolder in the heater. This will build up creosote in the chimney and lead to lots of smoke outside the house. Keep ash and burned materials to a minimum in the wood heater with frequent cleaning.

* Burn wood in cycles, not by adding one or two pieces at a time. If you add pieces of wood continually you disrupt the combustion of the wood and it will lead to an excessive amount of ash and smoke in the fire.

Carefully setting up and installing your wood heater and learning about the best types of wood available will help you enjoy the warmth of your wood heater in the safest and most efficient way possible.

Mike O'Brien is the owner of a number of websites offering valuable information on the following.

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