A wood-burning stove can add cozy warmth and ambiance to a space. However, there are also some risks involved with using a wood stove. Namely, carbon monoxide poisoning, chimney fires, and burns are all hazards you need to worry about. In order to ensure you and your loved ones are kept safe and sound, always practice these safety measures pertaining to your wood stove.
Have your chimney cleaned annually.
Using your wood stove with a dirty chimney puts you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, poisonous gas that is generated whenever wood (or any other fuel) is burned. When your chimney is dirty, the gas may not vent out the chimney properly and may instead end up in your home. Dirty chimneys also increase your risk of a chimney fire.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, all chimneys should be professionally cleaned and inspected once per year. You should also have your chimney cleaned if you ever notice any smoke coming into the home or any black, oily creosote building up where the chimney meets the wood stove. Find a professional chimney service through a website like http://earlytimeshomesolutions.com.
Keep a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Even if your chimney is clean, there is still a risk of carbon monoxide being released into your home if there's a leak in the stove or its vent system. Thus, it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in the room where your wood stove is found. If carbon monoxide builds up in the air, the alarm will go off. You should then put the fire out and open the windows to air out the space. Leave the home for a few hours so you're sure the gas has dissipated (reset the detector and see if it rings again to check.) Do not use your wood stove again until it has been checked out by an expert, and if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, head to the doctor's office:
- Chest Pain
- Confusion and Disorientation
Keep the wood stove door closed.
Your stove should be equipped with vents you can open to regulate the air flow into the burn chamber. It's important that you use these vents rather than propping the door open. Using the stove with the door open puts you at risk of a fire should some burning wood topple out of the open door. It also puts you at risk of a burn should you happen to walk by the stove and be hit by a flying spark.
Reload the stove carefully.
When you need to add wood to the fire, follow these tips to reduce your risk of being burned:
- Use wood tongs to pick up the logs and set them in the fire
- Do not overload the stove. For most stoves, adding 3 to 4 split pieces of wood at a time is sufficient. Adding more increases the risk of the coals tumbling out at you.
- Place the new logs on top of the old coals to keep the coals from piling up against the door.
Never start a new fire on a pile of ashes.
When you're in a rush, it may be tempting to leave the ashes from the last fire in place and just start a new fire on top of them. However, this increases your risk of a fire and burns since the burning logs and coals will be stacked higher and more likely to fall out of the door. They will also be closer to the opening of the chimney, which may interfere with proper ventilation. Always scoop out the ashes from the last fire before starting a new one.