Fire Damage Risks of Heating Appliances in Anchorage

The windstorm that just ravaged through the valley here left 6,400 homes without electricity for a couple of days, resulting in freezing temperature indoors. Many in our area had to result to methods other than a furnace and space heaters to keep warm. One common method of heating homes around here is wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. While these prove invaluable during hard power outages, they need to be handled with extreme caution and tended to with care and attentiveness or they could lead to fire damage.

wood burning stove

Fire Damage Restoration Anchorage

While the use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces has led to a growing number of house fires, most of them can be attributed to carelessness, incorrect install, or misuse. Here are some general guidelines to follow that will help greatly reduce the risk of you needing fire damage restoration because of your wood-burning stove:

  • Leave enough clearance between the stove and combustible materials including floors, walls, and ceilings. The National Fire Code requires at least 36 inches of clearance between the top of a stove and an unprotected ceiling, and all combustible materials must be 6 inches or greater from the opening of the firebox. 
  • Be sure that your stove is on a noncombustible, fire-resistant base. This base must also extend at least 36 inches around the perimeter of the stove. 
  • Do not connect a wood stove to a chimney serving any other appliance or where any other fuels may be burned. To ensure the chimney will be safe to use, you should have a mason or other competent person inspect it. You need proper ventilation, so the chimney is critical in burning a safe fire. Keep it cleared so no blockages impeded it. You should also have your chimney inspected every year to be sure it is in good condition.
  • Only burn well-seasoned, dry wood. Burning green wood results in creosote to build up in your stovepipe and chimney. Creosote is combustible and is the main cause of chimney fires. It is also important to never burn trash in a wood stove for the same reason – chimney fires. 
  • When you need to clean out and dispose of the ashes in your firebox, be sure to place them in a metal container outside and far away from anything combustible. Ashes can retain heat for a surprising amount of time, and carelessly discarding them can result in a fire.
  • Make sure you have working smoke detectors not only in the same room as your stove, but in every room of your home. If your detectors are more than 10 years old, replace them. Most new detectors also double as carbon monoxide detectors which can be life-saving in your home. 

While we are no strangers to freezing temperatures around here, when windstorms (or other extreme weather events) do happen and leave us without power, it is important that we be prepared to keep our homes warm. Use safe practices when heating your home with a wood-burning stove or fireplace, and just remember if you do find yourself in need of fire damage restoration that TCM Restoration is here to help.