Tips to maintain a healthy woodstove

February 11, 2019

With cold weather encouraging people to stay inside near a warm fire, now is a good time to think about how the proper maintenance of our woodstoves can protect our safety and health, as well as the longevity of the stove.

It’s important to keep tabs on what you are burning and how it burns. For instance, a black, soot-filled window on your woodstove can be an indication that maintenance is needed, or burning practices need to be changed.

A black window indicates too much smoke and soot is being produced by your fire, which means the fire is not burning cleanly. This could be because a) not enough oxygen is getting to the fire or b) your wood is wet. Either way, smoke is not good for your woodstove or for your health, and adjustments need to be made.

Follow these tips to keep your woodstove running well and wood smoke to a minimum:

  • Burn seasoned wood – wood that is dry, split, stored for six months before use, if possible. The more seasoned your wood is, the better it will burn. The better it burns, the less smoke it will produce.
  • Never burn painted or pressure-treated wood, wood that contains glue (plywood), household garbage, trash, cardboard, plastics or foams. All of these products emit toxic fumes when burned, can damage your woodstove, and can be damaging for your health should you breathe them in.
  • Keep track of the creosote accumulating in your chimney. Creosote is a flammable, black, tar-like substance that is created from the wood smoke. Too much on the chimney and it can quickly become a fire hazard. No creosote is best; if it starts to build up, clean the chimney.
    • Avoid creosote buildup by burning dry wood. Wet wood creates more smoke, and thus, more creosote.

For more information about keeping your home healthy, visit the ANTHC Air and Healthy Homes Program page at

Information from this article was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency.

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