Q:

What are safety tips for operating an outdoor wood-burning furnace?

A:

Quick Answer

When operating outdoor wood furnaces, owners should use the proper fuel. Dry wood is essential, and hard woods are preferable to soft woods. Furnaces should be installed by professionals on fire-resistant bases. During the summer, burn smaller fires to avoid overheating and ease cleaning.

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Full Answer

It is critical to install wood furnaces well away from flammable structures. Typically, outdoor wood furnaces are installed at least 30 feet away from homes. Users should take care in disposing of ashes, and it is best to collect ashes in closed metal containers and dispose of ashes outside, well away from combustible materials.

Regular inspection and cleaning prevents the buildup of creosote, a byproduct of wood smoke. Besides creating a fire hazard, creosote decreases the efficiency of wood furnaces. Some types of outdoor furnaces are designed to prevent creosote buildup by burning off creosote as it gathers.

For electric outdoor furnaces, bury the electric line sufficiently deep to meet local codes. Chimney caps are useful for arresting and diffusing sparks that can start fires.

Users can take a number of other measures for proper outdoor furnace maintenance, including checking water levels regularly, as well as inspecting and cleaning water filters. When leaving on extended trips, owners should arrange to have their furnaces refilled regularly.

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