Use Caution With Alternative Heating Sources
With energy prices on the rise, consumers are turning to alternative heating sources to keep their homes warm this winter. But the Institute for Business & Home Safety reminds consumers improper use of some alternative heating options could be dangerous.
Before using any heating device, consumers should install carbon monoxide detectors in several parts of the house. Never use a kerosene heater indoors.
According to model building codes, stoves within compartments or alcoves should have a minimum of 3 inches of clearance along the sides, back and top with a total width of the enclosing space being at least 12 inches wider than the stove. Stoves having a firebox open to the atmosphere should have at least a 6-inch clearance along the front combustion chamber side.
The IBHS also offers the following tips for other alternative energy sources:
WOOD PELLET STOVES
• Always hire an installer who is licensed and certified.
• Stove placement must allow for access to proper venting and electrical sources and must meet minimum required clearances.
• Outlets must be checked for proper voltage, grounding and polarity.
• Use noncombustible floor protection near the stove.
• Inspect chimney before installation.
• An outside air source may be required in some cases.
• Regular maintenance is critical to ensure safe operation.
• Vent pipes or chimneys must be inspected prior to use.
• Choose a stove that has been tested by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
• Second-hand stoves should be free of broken parts or large cracks.
• Maintain at least a 36-inch clearance between the stove and combustible materials or use fire-resistant materials to protect woodwork. Follow manufacturer's guidelines.
• Noncombustible floor covering should be used under and around the stove.
• Prior to using the stove, place a layer of sand or brick in the bottom of the firebox.
• If a metal chimney is used, make sure it is UL-approved.
• Whether masonry or metal, the chimney should extend at least 3 feet above the highest point where it passes through the roof and at least 2 feet above any portion of the building within 10 horizontal feet of the chimney.
•The chimney flue lining should not be blocked.
• Keep the chimney flue and stove pipe clean and free of obstructions.
• Look for products that have been tested by UL.
• Buy a model with an automatic shut-off feature and heat element guards.
• Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials.
• Do not leave a heater unattended.
• Electric heaters should be inspected prior to use.
• Liquid-fueled heaters must be operated using only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer.
• Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel.
• Allow the heater to cool down prior to refueling.
• Annual inspections should be done by a professional chimney sweep.
• Regular cleaning will keep the fireplace free of obstructions and creosote.
• Have a removable cap installed at the top of the chimney to keep out debris and animals.
• Install a spark arrestor that has half-inch mesh.
• Maintain proper clearance around the fireplace and keep it clear of combustible materials.
• Always close the screen when in use.
• Keep glass doors open during the fire.
• Use a fireplace grate.
• Never burn garbage, rolled newspapers, charcoal or plastic in the fireplace.
• Never use gasoline or any liquid accelerant.
• Clean out ashes from previous fires and store them in a noncombustible container with a tight-fitting lid.
• Never leave a fire unattended.
• Make sure the fire is completely out before closing the damper.
• Gas fireplaces require specific maintenance: adjust the milli-volt output, keep glowing embers and logs clean, inspect and clean the air circulation passages and fan, clean the glass as needed and avoid obstructing the vents.
For more information, visit The Institute for Business & Home Safety Web site at www.disastersafety.org