For the past fifteen years, the number one cause of fires in New Hampshire has been linked to solid fuel burning appliances. These include wood, coal, corn and pellet stoves and furnaces. These devices have improved over the years and should be treated just like any other machine or appliance. In order for them to work properly they have to be maintained regularly. Just as you normally take your car to the mechanic to have the oil changed and other preventative maintenance performed, you have to do the same with heating appliances, regardless of the fuel type.
The recent rise in fuel prices has led a lot of folks to start thinking of alternative heating appliances. Whether you are dusting off that old wood stove in the garage that you haven't used in a while or going to the store to buy a new one, make sure you plan out your installation properly. Appliance manufacturers design and build these appliances to very strict tolerances for things like clearances to combustible surfaces and venting arrangements. Make sure that you follow the manufacturer's installation instructions very carefully when installing a heating appliance. If you can't find the instructions, contact the manufacturer for another copy. Many manufacturers have copies of these important documents on their Web site. If you are unable to locate such a document, it probably means that the appliance is too old and you should consider replacing it with a newer one.
New technologies are coming out every day with regard to heating appliances. Gas appliances are getting smaller and more efficient. The important thing to remember when burning any fuel, solid, liquid or gaseous: Fire needs air. Every fuel burning appliance requires combustion air. Today many folks overlook this important fact as they tighten up their homes for energy efficiency. When a fuel burning appliance starves for air, the burning characteristics change drastically and the production of lethal carbon monoxide increases dramatically.
If you have questions about your heating appliance installation, contact your local fire department. Some helpful links are provided below.
University of New Hampshire - Extension Service
Insurance Information Institute - Media
Heating Season Fire Safety Powerpoint Presentation
Microsoft PowerPoint format. You can download a free reader from Microsoft.