There are many safety implications with Wood Stoves. Fire due to improper installation or operation and carbon monoxide poisoning are serious concerns! With two young kids safety is a TOP priority for us! With proper installation, detection devices and inspection wood stoves in small spaces is no more a concern than using one in a traditional space. Here are some areas of concern when it comes to wood stoves in small spaces:
INSPECTION & MAINTENANCE
Your stove and flue should be regularly maintained for optimal performance and safe operation. Each stove will have different maintenance needs but some common areas are: gaskets, flue connections to stove and regularly cleaning the flue pipe. In wood fires creosote can build up in the venting system which can be a fire hazard.
If you’re regularly moving your space (bus, RV or travel trailer) you will want to do a pre-burn inspection of your stove after you have moved. With all the movement beating down the road you will want to inspect the pipe fitting to ensure a secure and airtight connection. Regular inspection and maintenance is necessary to keep your stove burning safe.
When considering a Small Wood Stove a direct air option piped to an outside air source is a very good idea. You don’t want your stove to use and burn all the air from inside your living space. Depending on how sealed your space is, this may or may not be a concern. And you can always crack a window or vent but the best and safest solution is a outside direct air source for the primary and secondary (if applicable) combustion. Note: As we have shopped for stoves not all small wood stoves have this option so buyer beware!
A Wood Stove has to be installed with proper clearances from combustibles. If not it can be a fire hazard! This is a challenge for small spaces because the space and location for stove installation is much less. Before buying and installing a stove check the manufacturer’s recommended clearances. If the stove cannot be installed following these guidelines its best to find either a different location or a different heat source. One option to get narrow clearances is to use a heat shield to deflect hot temperatures away from combustibles. We will look more at clearances in the installation section.
The flue (chimney pipe) in a wood stove is crucial. You can’t put a hot pipe through your roof and expect not to have problems. Flue systems are engineered to keep your structure safe from the heat of the stove and from the elements coming in the opening. There may be ways to make or rig a flue that functions but it’s much safer to get one specifically designed for that application.
It’s also vital to use the proper pipe for your stove. Different grades of metals react differently to high temperatures. While you may find pipe that will fit your stove it may not be the best option. For example some water heaters use galvanized 4” pipe. While this will fit your stove galvanized mixed with hot flue gases can create a hazardous combination inside your living space. It’s best to use flue pipe that is specifically rated for hot wood stove gases. We will discuss flue pipe more in the installation section.
Proper detection is essential when using any appliances – gas, wood, or propane! A carbon monoxide alarm, smoke alarm, and propane alarm must be properly installed and regularly tested. Batteries should also be checked to ensure proper functioning. Mount detectors according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The height of the detector and placement in the room matters. Smoke and carbon monoxide tend to rise, while propane tends to sink.
Wood stoves can be dangerous. Understanding these dangers and taking the proper precautions will ensure safe usage. When installing a wood burning stove it never hurts to get a professional opinion. Most likely there is a professional stove installer or dealer that offer you feedback or help to ensure a safe installation. It’s best to be cautious and safe than sorry!