Dufferin Mutual Insurance Company

Wood Stove Safety

The winter heating season is upon us and its time to be reminded about heating safety. Whatever the system in your home, be sure to have it inspected by a certified Technician.

If you heat with wood, get a WETT certified Chimney Sweep to clean and inspect your appliance. If a chimney develops significant creosote deposits very quickly it is cause for concern. One of the following factors may be responsible:

  • The wood is too wet. High moisture content consumes energy and inhibits combustion. Wood that is dry enough to burn will have cracks in the end.
  • The rate of combustion is too slow causing a smoldering, smoky fire. In the fall and spring heat demand is lower so we tend to have just a little fire. This can result in more rapid creosote formation in the flue pipes and chimney.
  • The appliance is poorly designed and cannot burn wood efficiently.


If you need to clean out creosote deposits several times each year and it is black, tarry consistency, its time to discuss the problem with an expert.

CREOSOTE THAT RESULTS FROM PROPER FIRING IS SOFT, FLAKY AND DARK BROWN IN COLOUR.

A common problem with wood stove installations is the selection of a stove that is too large for the space to be heated. This results in long periods of low firing and that can lead to creosote build-up. Experienced wood stove retailers know the performance capabilities of each unit so seek their advice when choosing the appropriate unit for your home.

Chimney fires are the result of poor appliance firing techniques combined with a lack of proper chimney maintenance. Creosote is a highly-flammable material and deposits as thin as 1/8 inch can cause a chimney fire.

WoodWood that has been treated with chemical preservatives should not be used as firewood because it can release pollutants into the air and the chemicals may attack the steel in your unit.

Tree varieties with the highest heat content (BTU/Cord) are Sugar Maple, Beech, Oak and Hickory. Medium heat content trees are Yellow Birch, Ash, Elm, Red Maple, Tamarack and White Birch.

Do your homework before purchasing wood. Know what the bark looks like on the kind of wood you want. And be aware of the difference between a face cord and a bush cord. A bush cord is 4ft. high, 4ft. deep and 8ft. long. A face cord is 4ft. high, 14-16in deep and 8ft. long. (3 face cords = 1 bush cord.)

712 Main Street East, Shelburne, Ontario. Canada. L9V 2Z4
Tel: 519 925 2026 • Toll Free: 800 265.9115
Fax: 519 925 3357
email: info@dufferinmutual.com
© Dufferin Mutual Insurance Company 2012