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Home Heating with Wood - Introduction

Numerous home fires occur each year from heating with wood. The purpose of this booklet is to help reduce these losses by providing information on the proper installation, operation and maintenance of modem wood stoves, chimneys and flues. Please take a few minutes to review these pages.

How Wood Burns and Temperataures Evolve

For wood to burn, there are three essential ingredients: heat, fuel and oxygen. The fire triangle illustrates this principle:

                                           FUEL            HEAT

Fuel/Heat/Oxygen Fire Triangle
                                                 OXYGEN

Eliminate any one of the above from the triangle and combustion will cease. With proper amounts of each, a fire will burn well.

When wood burns, it goes through three stages:

1. Evaporation - the driving out of moisture.

2. Pyrolysis - at temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit wood actually begins to bum with the release of volatile gases and liquids. These gases will bum with increased temperature and in the presence of adequate oxygen. About 40-60% of the heat produced is from the combustion of these gases and liquids. If temperature or oxygen is inadequate, creosote is produced.

3. Charcoal burning - at temperatures above 1100 degrees Fahrenheit charcoal is consumed with heat being released more evenly and slower than in the previous stage.

SUCH HIGH TEMPERATURES CAN BE DANGEROUS IF A WOOD STOVE IS NOT PROPERLY INSTALLED OR KEPT CLEANED.

Next: Home Safety with Wood Heating