As the days start to get a little colder, your wood stove will start to see more and more action: pretty soon, it’ll be time to throw another log into the fire. Alternative heating is cool (pun intended) because it allows us to keep warm and toasty during the coming winter months. However, using a wood stove is not without its potential hazards: you always have to watch out for the ever-present dangers of fire, skin burns, and carbon monoxide inhalation. To help you steer clear of all of these safety risks, we’ve compiled a list of things to avoid and precautions to take when you fire up that wood stove. So without further ado, let’s start:

  • Forewarned is forearmed, people. In order to avoid danger, you have to be aware of it. Make sure that the smoke/fire and carbon monoxide alarms in your house are in working condition, and replace them if they’re not.

  • Remember the embers: clean your stove by disposing of the ashes properly. Keep in mind that ashes can take a few days to cool off completely, so simply dumping them into a Trash Can (along with other potentially flammable items) can be like…well; like playing with fire. Instead, store them in a metal container (like a can) that can be covered. Store this container preferably 10 feet away from cars and buildings.

  • Make sure that your kids and pets stay a safe distance away from the stove when it’s lighted. The metal exterior of the stove; as well as its flue pipe is dangerously hot and may cause nasty burns. In fact, you need to keep flammable items at least 3 feet away from your stove.

  • Be on the lookout for any damage to your wood stove: buckling or corroded metal, cracks in the glass, any seams or holes (even tiny ones) in its structure. These are indications that you need to have your stove repaired or replaced.

  • Have your wood stove inspected by a qualified professional annually to keep it in good working condition. Have him or her pay special attention to the doors and hinges, the exhaust section, and the combustion chamber.

  • While you’re inspecting things, have your chimney inspected (and cleaned) before the colder weather sets in and when the stove has been burning for a few weeks. Check for potentially flammable (and toxic) creosote deposits and get these cleaned and removed.

  • Avoid burning non-wood items in your stove: it’s called a wood stove, remember? Items that are made of rubber or plastic; or even coal can cause damage to your stove, give off noxious fumes, and might even explode.

  • Avoid excessive ash buildup at the bottom of the stove; as this prevents proper air flow to the combustion chamber and traps heat, making these ashes take a longer time to extinguish completely.

  • Avoid putting too much wood into the stove or making the fire grow too large for the stove to safely contain. This “over-firing” can be hazardous as it may cause undue damage to the stove, the connector, or the chimney and potentially cause a house fire.

Responsible and safe operation; as well as proper maintenance of your wood stove will ensure that you continue to enjoy many years of reliable performance out of it.

Are you thinking about getting a wood stove? Haven Spa Pool & Hearth has a complete line of Freestanding Wood Stoves that can keep you nice and warm during those cold winter months. We also offer Freestanding Pellet Stoves; as well as Gas Inserts. Visit us at one of our showrooms in Clackamas, Beaverton, or Vancouver to see our product lines. You can also request a quote or contact us online for your product inquiries and for more information.