Wood Heating: Is Your Family Safe?

Wood Heating: Is Your Family Safe?

Are you fortunate enough to have a wood stove? Or have you recently acquired a property with such a system, but are unfamiliar with its maintenance guidelines? Here’s what you need to know to make sure you use your wood-heating appliance in a manner that is safe for you, your family, and your home.

Fireplaces or wood-burning stoves are responsible for hundreds of house fires every year. A neglected system can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hiring a certified technician to clean your chimney once a year is essential to eliminate the soot and creosote buildup that can become a fire hazard. The best time to have the chimney swept is in spring. 

Before Winter

While relying on a professional is important, you can carry out some tasks yourself.

In autumn, before you use your fireplace or wood stove for the first time, inspect the inside of your chimney with a small hand mirror. Make sure there are no birds’ nests nor that anything has become loose. You should likewise check that the bricks and the mortar joints are in good condition. Is the door still airtight? Has any rust appeared? These are signs that you need to carry out more extensive repairs.

Necessary Precautions

  • When you are ready to build your first fire of the season, make sure the area is free of any object that could be a tripping hazard. The room must be well ventilated.
  • Moreover, before you light the logs, open the damper to ensure good air circulation. Don’t close the door as soon as the wood starts to burn as inadequate airflow can increase the risk of an accidental house fire and generate toxic smoke.
  • Use newspaper, kindling, followed by a few dry logs. Avoid damp or resinous wood, coloured flyers, plastic, household waste, cardboard and liquid or gel accelerants.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and set a fire extinguisher nearby. Be sure you understand how to operate it.
  • Don’t forget that ashes stay hot for up to three days. If you still want to clear them away immediately, remove them with a metal shovel and place them in a metal container with a metal lid. Store them away from the house or any flammable object and wait several days before emptying the ashes into a trash or compost bin. 
  • Keep in mind that most fireplace or wood stove-related accidents are the result of improper installation or operation. Don’t hesitate to call on a certified professional for all your wood heating needs. This will guarantee that the system is installed by a member of the Association des professionnels du chauffage and according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • You must likewise inform your insurance company that you are using a wood heating appliance. You will have to pay a higher premium, but you’ll be well protected in the event of a house fire caused by your wood-heating system.


There is nothing like cozying up to a real flickering crackling fire; however, to enjoy this simple pleasure, you must follow safety guidelines!

RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

A leader in the real estate industry since 1982, the RE/MAX network brings together the most efficient brokers.