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Inspection of Wood Stoves

There are many different levels of wood stove inspections, and owning a wood stove means you should be familiar with how to conduct a basic inspection.  Energy auditors and home energy professionals must also know how to conduct a basic inspection.


The Alliance for Green Heat developed a more complete visual guide for inspecting wood stoves for the energy audit and weatherization community as those communities have lacked appropriate training in how to inspect stoves.  Safety inspections of wood stoves are supposed to be required for all stoves, whether they are primary or just occasional heaters for DOE funded programs, such as for low-income homes covered by WAP – the Weatherization Assistance Program. Unfortunately, the DOE has failed to take necessary steps, which would include requiring all of their approved auditing software programs to include basic wood stove inspections.

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Nine signs that your wood stove may be a health or safety hazard.

The Alliance for Green Heat developed this shorter checklist as a quick way to do an initial safety inspection for a free-standing wood stove. The goal is to enable a homeowner or an energy auditor with a tape measure to quickly make an initial assessment of a stove and if they spot anything serious, to consider calling in a stove professional.  It does not apply to wood stove inserts or pellet stoves. If any of the following are evident, the stove is likely a health and/or safety hazard. (This is not intended as an exhaustive list and a full inspection would include more details.)

1. No ceiling/wall thimble where stovepipe penetrates ceiling/wall.

2. Single wall pipe with less than 18-inch clearance to combustibles or

    double wall pipe with less than 6-inch clearance. 

3. Floor protection doesn’t extend at least 8 inches on side and back and 18 inches in front. 

4. Stove clearances to combustibles fail to confirm to requirements on

    metal safety label on back of stove or stove manual.

5. Stoves clearances to combustibles are less than 36 inches if there is no metal label on back of stove.

6. A crack in the steel or cast-iron firebox.

7. Worn or missing door gaskets, cracked door glass or missing firebrick.

8. Visible creosote dripping down stove pipe or wall where stove pipe exits.

9. Chimney or stove pipe has no cap on top.

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