Wood-burning stove fire safety

There’s something so cozy about a wood-burning stove, isn’t there?

During these cold winter months, nothing sounds better than curling up in front of your wood stove, furnace, or fireplace while the snow falls outside. But if you’re not careful, that cozy evening could come crumbling down — quite literally.

Protect your home from fire damage in Sioux Falls by following our seven fire safety tips for wood furnaces and stoves.

Top 7 Wood Furnace Safety Tips

1. Check Your Furnace or Stove Setup

First and foremost, make sure your chimney is fit for a wood-burning stove or furnace. (If you have a freestanding stove, make sure it’s as close to the chimney as possible.)

Wood furnaces and stoves should never be installed on or near combustible surfaces, such as wood or carpet. They should also be kept a safe distance from surroundings. Most fire departments recommend at least a three-foot gap between drapes, furniture, and other items.

Remember to keep children and pets as far away as possible, too!

2. Have Your Chimney Inspected and Cleaned

Hire a professional to inspect and clean your chimney at the start of every fall or winter to make sure it’s up to snuff for the season. You’ll want to clear your chimney of any soot or creosote formation — both common causes of house fires in Sioux Falls.

Creosote is a chemical mass of carbon that forms whenever wood is burned. If you don’t dispose of it immediately, it can build up in your furnace or fireplace, not only restricting the airflow but also posing the threat of fire damage. Creosote is highly flammable and toxic, so even if you don’t wind up with a chimney fire, you don’t want to be breathing it in on a daily basis. Get it cleaned out!

3. Burn Only Seasoned, Dry Wood

Ideally, your firewood should be completely dry and seasoned for at least six months. This will allow your fire to burn faster and brighter, thus reducing smoke, odor, and the buildup of dangerous creosote.

4. Light Only Small, Bright Fires

Don’t start off with a large pile of firewood, or your furnace could overheat due to incomplete burning. You could also damage the stove and increase your risk of fire damage.

Instead, light a little fire to begin with, and add small pieces of seasoned wood as needed.

Also, don’t use starter fluid (which could cause an explosion), charcoal (which could emit harmful carbon monoxide into your home), or paper or trash (which are highly combustible and could emanate toxic gases). If you own combustible liquids like kerosene or gas, keep them in a protected location outside — never inside — your home.

5. Dispose of Ashes Appropriately

After a fire has died out, remove the ashes, and place them in a metal container. (Don’t put them directly in a trash can, since ashes can take several days to cool completely.)

Dispose of the ashes outdoors, away from trees and plants and at least ten feet away from buildings or vehicles.

6. Store Firewood in a Dry Place

Wood will absorb the moisture around it (and thus begin to rot), so don’t keep your firewood in a wet place. Store it instead in a dry location like a garage or shed, both of which allow for air to pass through to help keep the wood dry.

7. Install and Test Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

All homes with wood-burning stoves, furnaces, or fireplaces should have fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed outside each sleeping area and on every level. Even if you have them installed already, you should inspect them regularly to make sure they’re working.

Another good safety measure is keeping a fire extinguisher on hand in case of emergencies. Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but if you do, you’ll be immensely glad you have it.

Who to Call for Sioux Falls Fire Restoration

Wood furnace fire safety tips

We truly hope you never have to deal with fire damage due to wood furnaces or any other cause.

However, if you do, remember INTEK. We offer Sioux Falls fire restoration services that can help put your mind at ease during a time of terrible confusion and loss.

Unfortunately, the holidays are prime time for house fires, thanks to the candles and Christmas trees that can be found in nearly every home. Learn more fire safety tips by reading this post on fireplace safety for winter.