Keep an eye on your wood-burning stove

  • Published
  • By Eric T. Hoehn
  • 88th Air Base Wing Safety Office

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - As evening temperatures in our area begin to descend, now is the perfect time to get your wood-burning stove in good working order.

The Environmental Protection Agency provides the following guidance:

  • Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to alert you and your family in the event of a fire or increased carbon-monoxide levels. To be effective, smoke alarms must be in the proper location and tested regularly. Batteries should be replaced regularly, too.
  • Have your wood stove, chimney and vents professionally inspected and cleaned each year to keep them in safe working order.
  • Season wood outdoors through the hot, dry summer for at least six months before burning it. Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood. Do not burn wet or green (unseasoned) logs.
  • Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.
  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood that has been split properly.
  • Start fires with clean newspaper and dry kindling.
  • Burn hot, bright fires and use smaller fires in milder weather.
  • Let the fire burn down to coals, then rake them toward the air inlet (and wood-stove door), creating a mound. Do not spread the coals flat.
  • Reload your stove by adding at least three pieces of wood each time, on and behind the mound of hot coals. Avoid adding one log at a time.
  • Keep all flammable household items — drapes, furniture, newspapers and books — far away from your wood stove.
  • Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter or a propane torch.
  • Do not use logs made from wax and sawdust in your wood stove or fireplace insert — they are made for open-hearth fireplaces. If you use manufactured logs, choose those made from 100 percent compressed sawdust.
  • Build small, hot fires. A smoldering fire is not safe or efficient.
  • Keep the doors of your wood stove closed unless loading or stoking the live fire.
  • Regularly remove ashes from your wood stove into a metal container with a cover. Store the ashes container outdoors on a cement or brick slab (not on a wood deck or near wood).
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Follow the above guidance to ensure your wood-burning stove performs safely. More information is available at