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How to Stay Safe When Using Wood Stoves

Wood stoves are popular because they can help lower heating costs, but avoid these common mistakes to make sure you stay safe.

Heat wisely. Avoid these common mistakes when using wood stoves:

“I’m going to buy used and save big.” Take extra precaution when buying a used wood stove. Always get the original manufacturer’s name and serial number to verify that the unit is certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or another testing facility. The stove also should be EPA-certified. Older stoves burn more wood and may not meet local air quality standards. In addition, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association cautions against buying used wood stoves because of the things an average buyer can’t see: cracks, leaks and failing metal that create fire and health hazards.

Better Idea: Play it safe and buy a new high-efficiency wood stove. Go to hpba.org for more details on finding the right stove for your home.

“I’m going to install it myself.” A wood stove essentially allows you to put flaming logs in your living area. So unless you install wood stoves for a living, this is one job best left to the pros.

Better Idea: Hire a certified installer who’s familiar with local building codes from the National Fireplace Institute. Many towns and cities require permits and inspections, and running afoul of the law could cost you more in the long run.

“Why throw wrapping paper away? I’ll burn it.” Resist the temptation. Holiday wrapping paper (and evergreen branches) burn too hot and too fast and can quickly overwhelm a wood stove.

Better Idea: Burn only seasoned wood. Call area tree cutters and ask if they’ll drop off wood at your home, suggests the EPA. You’ll get free firewood, and they’ll save on disposal fees. Of course, you still have to properly season the wood before burning it.

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