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Woodburning Stove Safety Tips

Updated on September 27, 2016
Wood stack.      Photo by rvidal.
Wood stack. Photo by rvidal.

You can't beat the look of a lovely woodburning stove, they can really turn a house into a home and you can spend many a pleasant evening relaxing in the warm glow of a woodburning stove. Once you've decided to buy and fit one, you then need to be aware of how to use them safely.

We're all looking to reduce our carbon footprint and burning wood is carbon neutral, so you get to have a great looking and safe fire, that's helping to save the planet too!

Although they look lovely, some people don't realise the problems they can have if they don't follow some basic guidelines. So here are my:

8 Woodburning Stove Tips

  • Registered Fitter: Make sure your woodburning stove was fitted by a fully qualified and registered fitter. If you're buying a house that has a woodburning stove already in it, then ensure you see all the paperwork that goes with that. Once you have a woodburning stove, get it checked annually.
  • Chimney Checks: Your chimney will need to be checked on an annual basis - and for some chimneys they will need cleaning too. Make sure you use a professional for this. Keeping your chimney in tip top condition will reduce the risk of a fire and any carbon monoxide poisoning if exhaust gases are leaking or if there's a blockage in the chimney.

  • Chimney Clearance Distance: You must make sure that you minimise the chance of anything covering or falling into your chimney on the outside. Keep the top of your chimney clear of trees, branches and leaves - at least 15 feet/4 metres is recommended. This applies to trees and branches that overhang your chimney, not for those that are much lower down to the ground, although you should be aware of how leaves will be blown in the autumn.
  • Chimney Caps: Chimney caps are a great way to stop things falling into your chimney. It will also prevent birds from falling in or dropping things in. Any small animal or bird that can get up onto your roof could potentially end up coming down your chimney - I came home once when I had open fires to find a blackbird flying around my house! A chimney cap will minimise what can fall in.
  • Woodburner Fuel: Make sure you're using the right fuel to burn in your woodburner. If you're buying and chopping your own wood, then you need to make sure it's been seasoned. Wood needs to be chopped and then set aside to season and dry out for quite a long time. You should leave wood a minimum of 6 months before you burn it on a fire. Some trees should never be burnt on your woodburner, such as a Christmas tree or any treated wood you have lying about. Just because it is a woodburner and burns wood does not mean you can burn any wood you want. Logs should be stored off the ground and outside in a covered area.

  • Stacking Your Woodburner: You need to build up your fire properly in your woodburner. Stacking it up will also help you to light it more easily. Any wood or logs should be at the rear of the fireplace and supported on a grate. Start by using kindling wood (small pieces of easy to burn wood). You can put a firelighter into the bottom of your stack (read the instructions on the box), but NEVER use anything flammable (e.g. lighter fluid, petrol, etc).Using kindling at the bottom will enable the first flames to start more easily, which will then transfer to the heavier logs you place on top.
  • Clear Zone: Always keeps a good clear zone around your woodburning stove, ensure the hearth area is clear. Don't keep paper, wood or any aerosol cans or other combustibles nearby. Furniture should be at least 3 feet away from the hearth.
  • Carbon Monoxide: Woodburning stoves can cause carbon monoxide to build up - this is an odourless gas which can kill. Get yourself an audible carbon monoxide detector.

A woodburning stove is a great addition to your home, but just make sure you follow these basic tips to keep you and your family and home safe.

Thanks for reading!

Photo by: rvidal


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    • profile image

      John 6 years ago

      Very interesting and useful information, burning green wood which is not seasoned correctly increases the build-up of creosote which is one of the foremost causes of chimney fires. Regular cleaning of chimney is also worthwhile to prevent creosote build-up and decrease the risk on chimney fires.

    • earner profile image

      Dedicated Content Curator 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Oh my .. a bird in the woodburning stove! That's quite a worry.

      Thanks for your comment.

    • VivBounty profile image

      VivBounty 8 years ago from Canada

      Thank you so much for your most helpful tips.

      We had a bird in our wood stove and can now avoid that mishap in future.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

      Excellent tips. Most people who don't have them don't realize that wood burning stoves are a good bit of work and require attention for your own safety. Good reminder.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your well written hub. I dearly would love to but our chimney was taken away.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 8 years ago from NJ, USA

      This is a very useful and helpful hub - I wasn't aware that you shouldn't burn Christmas Trees in them - luckily mine is plastic anyways! Thanks for the safety tips too....