Wood Stove Safety / House Fires and Carbon Monoxide

feathersnfinsOctober 17, 2005

I was reading a thread a minute ago and felt a little spooked about the safety of my family in regards to house fires and Carbon Monoxide poisoning?

I installed a Quadrafire 7100 zero clearance woodburning fireplace last year.

Is this considered a pre-fab? I would think it is, but it seems to be built like a rock and has great clearances from the framing to the actual stove.

What would cause a house fire if I maintained the proper clearances when I installed the stove and if I keep my chimney clean (which I sweeped myself today! I was whining like a little girl up on that roof, I hate heights!!!!)

Also, I have a cheap carbon monoxide alarm that looks like a smoke detector, is this OK or should I invest in a good monitor for Carbon monoxide?

What are some of the problems on a unit like mine that would cause Carbon monoxide posining?


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there is not a very big risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if you are burning wood, the house would be full of smoke by the time carbon monoxide levels would reach high enough to cause a concern, and like most sane people when a home is full of smoke, you realize there is a problem, long before anything elce happens. however if you are burning natural gas, which has quite oderless emissions, then co poisoning would be more of a concern.

the reason prefab firplaces create a fire hazard is simply because they are junk, they don't have enough thermal mass to absorb high amounts of heat for long periods and they are designed to prevent a certain amound of heat transfer, however during long burn periods the heat continues to build up in the enclosed spaces surrounding your pre fab and can eventually reach temperitures to ignite the surrounding wood. wood stoves do not have this problem because they are usually out in the open heating room air, or they are sitting loosely inside a masonry firplace with high thermal mass. as i said prefab fireplaces are junk and i would never have one in my house (at least that i would use).

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 11:14PM
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You do not have what we consider a "pre-fab".

What you actually have is a woodstove that is built into the house that looks like a fireplace.

One thing that would cause a chimney fire is using unseasoned wood. The green wood burns too slow and it creates glazed or sappy/dripping creosote which is highly flammable. It can only be removed with a chemical treatment from a professional chimney sweep. The chemical treatments can only be done when it is 50 degrees or warmer outside, it takes a few days to let it sit and peel off the creosote and it is an expensive procedure. Hence, it can usually NOT be done in the wintertime.

Burning good, hot fires will keep your chimney pretty clean. And make sure that your chimney cap does not get plugged up. Check it from time to time. The cap is a very good indicator of not only the "health" of your fires but it will tell you when you need a sweeping done. Don't EVER remove the screen around the cap.

I have seen people who need a chimney sweep every 4 weeks because they burn unseasoned wood.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2005 at 11:20PM
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Thanks for the help.

I'm glad I don't have a pre fab. I was hoping it wasn't prefab because it was fairly expensive.

I do burn seasoned wood, though I burned some wood (very little) that wasn't quite seasoned enough last year. I swept my chimney yesterday. I used the fireplace from January until April almost everyday last year. My chimney didn't have any "build up" on the walls like I've seen in some chimneys. After sweeping with a brush, I had enough fine little black flakey particles to fill up a liter bottle. That didn't seem too bad to me. I expect the results to be better this year since all of my wood I will be burning is properly seasoned.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 1:23PM
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I disagree with Berlin about wood fires not producing carbon monoxide without also producing lots of smoke. Last night our CO detectors went off and kept on going off after I reset it. I was thinking that there was no smoke, and we all felt fine. I finally called the fire department and they came with a CO meter and there were high enough levels for us to have to evacuate and go to the ER for oxygen treatment. I didn't think wood stoves were a risk for CO as much as petroleum products. Now I know that I was wrong.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 9:13PM
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