When you own a wood-fired heater it is important that you have it serviced regularly. It’s that routine maintenance that will ensure your wood-fired heater will operate efficiently and not become a potential fire hazard.
Wood heaters and flues should be serviced annually by a licensed or registered mechanical service plumbing practitioner. Summer is the perfect time to have this maintenance performed, you are not using the heater, and it will ensure it will be ready for the upcoming winter or colder months.
Wood-fired heaters that are not maintained properly are a fire hazard if you do not have the heater and flue serviced and maintained regularly it increases the risk of it starting a fire.
In Victoria research by the Coroners Prevention Unit found that in the ten-year period 2003 – 2013 there were at least 48 fires where a wood fire heater flue was the likely source of ignition.
What issues does regular serving address? The regular servicing of a wood-fired heater and its flue system addresses two key fire risk hazards –
- It removes any creosote that has accumulated in the heater or the flue. Creosote forms when the gases from the burning wood condense on their way out the flue, leaving a tar-like material behind. This substance can build up quickly and will block the flue, leading to inefficient heater operation. Creosote is a highly combustible material that can catch fire which makes it the common cause of wood-fired heater-related fires.
- A check of the flue system will ensure it is free of flammable materials and defects such as grass, small twigs and other debris that may have entered the flue as a result of birds nesting in the flue or the surrounding chimney cavity. The intense heat that is generated in flues when the heater is being used can cause this debris to catch fire and burn.
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In addition to reducing the fire risk, regular servicing of your wood-fired heater ensures it will continue to operate efficiently, and it’s important that you keep any overhanging tree branches clear of the flue.
In addition to regular servicing, there are other things you can do when using your wood heater that will help with wood usage and allows your heater to burn at maximum efficiency.
- Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for lighting, fuelling and operating the heater
- Use kindling wood or paper to get your fire started
- Only used dry and seasoned wood
- Arrange the wood so plenty of air can circulate all sides
- Always leave the air control open for at least 20 minutes after starting or refuelling your fire
- Do not overfill the heater or try to burn logs inside it that are too big