WSAZ - John Marra - Headlines

Burning Wood in a Fireplace

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- There are still lots of people out there that are still using their wood burning stoves or fireplaces. For the well-being of your family not to mention your pocketbook, you need to know how to use your wood burner safely. Most of the people know the importance of regular chimney inspection and cleaning and the need to keep combustible materials a safe distance from the stove. If you don't, you should.

The type of wood you burn and how quickly you burn it directly relates to creosote buildup and possible fire hazards. Creosote is that part of unburned wood that collects on the walls of your chimney and can cause a terrifying chimney fire. Believe me, I can relate first hand on this one.

Hardwoods are not necessarily better than softwoods, and dry wood is not necessarily better than somewhat wetter wood with regards to the amount of creosote that can accumulate during burning. Actually, its better to understand the rate of burning or the speed at which the wood gives up its wood burning material it contains.

People sometimes boast about how long their stove will hold a fire, the inference being "the longer the better." A 12 hour burn is convenient because it means the operator will not have to get up in the middle of the night to fuel the fire, and will not have to start a new fire in the morning. But some of the factors that permit a long, slow burn also encourage creosote accumulation and the chance of a chimney fire.

A hotter, shorter fire usually consumes the volatile gases before they leave the stove and reduces its collection on the chimney walls. Here is something interesting, the flue/gas temperature in a HOT fire are usually above the point where creosote can accumulate.

Its best to know how a wood burner works, to help keep the buildup of creosote at a manageable level. Have a good day.


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