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Burn Wise

Consumers -
Installation and Maintenance

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EPA and fire officials recommend having your wood-burning appliance, chimney, and vents professionally inspected and cleaned each year to keep them in safe working order.

Do you smell smoke in your home?
Shut down your wood-burning appliance, open a window, be sure the flue is open, carefully check the venting (chimney) system, and call a professional wood stove installer or chimney sweep.

EPA recommends that your wood-burning appliance be professionally installed and maintained by a certified technician to insure its safety and proper performance. The safety of your home and family depends on fully understanding and carrying out the critical manufacturer and building code requirements that include:

  • Proper clearances between the wood-burning appliance and venting system and combustible materials.
  • Proper protection of combustible floors.
  • Proper assembly of appliance and venting components.
  • Errors in installation (by a non-professional) may not be visible, and problems may not be apparent for a considerable length of time—and then only by a resulting home fire.

Furthermore, experienced professionals can properly size and place equipment for best heat distribution. The venting system (or chimney), in particular, is a critical area that requires professional involvement. This is the “engine” that drives the whole burning process—or causes it to perform poorly or fail. Professional decisions about the venting system to ensure adequate draft include:

  • Proper sizing (particularly avoiding oversized flues).
  • Proper height (often taller than minimum code requirements).
  • Proper location (interior of the house when possible) or protection from extreme cold.
  • Proper configuration (avoiding excessive horizontal runs and system turns in direction).
  • A wood-burning appliance that is sized and placed properly with a venting system that delivers adequate draft will reduce wood consumption, produce more usable heat, and reduce maintenance from inefficient fires.

One of the best ways to find competent installation and maintenance professionals is to check their credentials. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) is a source for finding a certified chimney sweep. CSIA is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to chimney and venting system safety. To learn more about CSIA and to locate a CSIA specialist, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America. Exit EPA disclaimer

A source for certified hearth system planners and installers is the National Fireplace Institute® (NFI). NFI is a non-profit certification agency that conducts nationwide education and testing of hearth professionals. To learn more about NFI and to locate an NFI Wood-Burning Specialist, visit The National Fireplace Institute Exit EPA disclaimer


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