Wood heaters are a popular heating solution in many homes in Australia. However, these heating fixtures can be dangerous if not installed and operated well. Wood heaters run at extremely high temperatures and where there is a fire there is a need for strict safety measures. Fire departments give out recommendations on the installation and use of wood heaters to prevent any disastrous events like house fires. Interior designers are also aware of these regulations and manufacturers of wood heaters often indicate safety regulations on their products. Here are a few safety tips for operating your heater.
Maintain Distance From The Surrounding
Local fire departments have clearance requirements on the installation of wood heaters. A safe distance must exist between the top, bottom, sides, front and back of the stove and all combustible materials. 3 feet is the most common recommended distance between wood heaters and drapes, furniture and other items. This fire safety code prevents items in your living space from catching fire from the heater. Highly combustible items should be placed far from the heater to prevent any accidents. The installation of a heat shield along the combustible wall reduces the clearance distance recommended by the fire safety code.
Only Burn Seasoned, Dry Wood
The best wood fuel for a wood heater is dry wood that has been seasoned for at least 6 months. This type of wood burns quicker and brighter. Moreover, dry wood reduces the formation of creosote, a highly inflammable by-product of incomplete firewood combustion. This by-product forms in the chimney and can increase the likelihood of a fire. Wet or unseasoned wood forms a lot of creosote which is dangerous. Moreover, the wood burns slowly and gives off less heat. Dry, seasoned wood can be purchased but if you have the time and skill you can prepare the wood yourself.
Only Light Small Fires
Small fires are more manageable than big fires. Wood heaters are efficient at generating heat, therefore, there is no need to have big fires for more heat. Small, bright fires are good enough to warm up any living space since they combust fully. Big piles of wood undergo incomplete burning and result in overheating of the fireplace and chimney. The uncontrollable temperatures are dangerous and can cause house fires. Most wood heaters have a specified capacity for wood fuel. That capacity is sufficient for effective heating of any space.
Clean And Inspect Your Ventilation System
Most stove-related fires originate within the ventilation system. A wood heater ventilation system consists of insulated stovepipes that connect to the chimney. The build of the system has precise dimensions to prevent any fires. The stovepipes must be as short as possible with a maximum of 2 right angle elbows. Regular cleaning of this system is recommended to facilitate its functioning. A wire brush should be used to clean the stovepipe and the chimney at least once a year. Heavy materials like bricks, chains or a brush at the end of a rope should not be used to clean the chimney. They can cause grave damages to the interior lining of the chimney. A licensed chimney sweep should be called in to inspect and clean your chimney. The maintenance of the ventilation system is crucial since it removes any soot and creosote formation.
Keep Children And Pets Away
Children are very curious, and they are likely to be intrigued by the dancing flames in a wood heater. If you have children in the house, never leave the fireplace unsupervised. Children and pets must be kept a safe distance away from a wood heater to avoid any accidents. A safety gate around the wood heater is effective at maintaining a boundary but if your heater has safety doors, it’s prudent to keep them shut.
Use The Right Fuel
Wood heaters use wood fuel and nothing else. Do not burn paper or trash in your wood heater. Although these items combust fast, they are dangerous and can cause uncontrollable fires. Moreover, paper and trash have toxic by-products that can cause health-related problems. Some items we throw in the trash are also highly flammable. When thrown a wood heater, the results may be fatal.
You should store your wood outdoors, neatly stacked off the ground and covered at the top. This prevents the wood from getting wet. When you are setting up a wood fire, use clean newspaper and dry kindling to start the flame. Let the fire burn down to coals then rake the coals towards the door of the wood burner. Add at least three pieces of wood each time you reload your burner and regularly remove ashes from the wood stove into a covered metal container. A smoke and fire detection system should also be installed in your house to guarantee fire safety.