Next Door Neighbor Installing Outdoor Wood Boiler - WWYD

jan_in_wisconsinAugust 24, 2014

Our next door neighbor wants to install an outdoor wood burning water boiler heater thing. We are very concerned about the effects it could have on air quality.

There are no ordinances in our area, though we live in a rural subdivision on several acres. Our neighbor would be installing this within about 50 feet of our home. The neighbor's ranch house sits on a much lower lot than our two-story on a hill.

Our neighbor asked us if it was okay and my hubby said we'd look into it more, since we don't know a lot about it. After researching, we're both really concerned. We think the proximity to our home is too close and that due to the much lower lot elevation, the smokestack couldn't be placed high enough. Our neighbor is an engineer, and it sounds like he will be constructing it himself.

Would you be concerned, and if so, why would you do?

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I don't know what you can do, but I would do everything in my power to stop it or at least have it moved to the other side of his property. Smoke flows upwards. When the neighbor below me uses his fireplace or his charcoal grill, the smoke flows right into my bedroom window. Since my windows are open year-round, it's a major annoyance.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 7:14PM
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I guess I'd talk with him about how he'd feel, what would he do if the shoe were on the other foot? Would he appreciate a neighbor smoking out his enjoyment of their property? If he continues and no gov't agency can stop it (it must have to be permitted, right? You could try to file an objection to a permit being issued, based on the smoke nuisance, but not sure that's even possible). Next I'd consult a land use attorney to see what the laws are in your state regarding nuisance affecting your quiet enjoyment of your property.

Here is a link that might be useful: don't take legal advice from wikipedia :)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 10:42PM
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This wouldn't require any kind of permits? I find that kind of strange. I had to google it, because I had no idea what it was! I know that here in Oregon we have restrictions on wood burning stoves-for air quality issues they have to meet stringent standards.

If he's an engineer, perhaps he can construct it in such a way that the smokestack is tall enough to not cause a low lying plume of smoke. Maybe he can also look at thermal air flow-it's possible that the smoke could rise high enough due to air currents.

In any event, I don't think there is much you can do but express your displeasure. At least he's consulted with you-you should count your blessings. I'd definitely mention to him your concerns, see if he's willing to compromise. And just flat out ask him why that is a heat source he's considering.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 10:49PM
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I don't know if a permit is required. He has already discussed it with the fire chief. It isn't really possible for the smoke stack to be higher than our home. The difference between our elevations is at least 25 feet due to the hill we're on and the fact that we have two stories.

I've seen these types of units along the highway in the winter, and they produce a lot of smoke non-stop 24/7. It's one thing out in the middle of farm country, but quite different when living right next door. Even though we have 3 acres and our neighbor 5, the distance between our homes is quite close due to house locations on the properties.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:18AM
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Which direction does the wind blow - are the prevailing winds going to blow it towards you or away?

You have the potential for a private nuisance lawsuit if the wind is going to blow the smoke towards your house.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 7:08AM
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Pesky, if Jan isn't in city limits I doubt her neighbor would need a permit.

Jan, I'm not familiar with them, but when you say they produce smoke non-stop all the time, then I'd find a way to put a stop to it. The wind could send it right to your house, and it would be even worse on non-windy days.

I'm going to read more about this, but it seems like having a constant fire would be a fire hazzard.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 7:12AM
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Collect all the research you can. I hate when people are inconsiderate to their neighbors.

We had a vacation home that was close to neighbors. They insisted on burning their outdoor chimina. (One of those small clay structures. It the smell was horrible. Luckily they only did it once because I would have said something. Your situation is a thousand times worse.

I am wondering if there is a fan system that could keep smoke like this at bay or directed in another direction.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 7:45AM
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I think olychick has the best suggestion--consult a lawyer who knows about these things, property rights and land use.

Just because there are no local ordinances does not mean that there aren't any state regulations about these boilers. Or about smoke blowing into your house.

You may not be able to stop your neighbor from putting the boiler in, but you may be able to force him to locate it as far away from your house as possible, and get other mitigation as well.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 8:00AM
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I think I would tell your neighbor that you empathisize with his desire to reduce heating expense but that you are concerned. Share that you realize your town doesnt have a local ordinance but many do, indeed many states have statewide regulations because complaints are common. Encourage him to comply with regulations from other states and towns - share with him a bunch of examples.
I live in Maine- we have regulations. Here the setbacks are based on the particulate emissions of the specific unit- which you have to prove. It would be difficult to build your own. The regulations also specify stack height and take into consideration situations like yours. The stack must be at leasit 2 feet higher than the closest building.
Based on your user name I checked Wisconsin. There have been calls for statewide regulation but it does appear to still be handled locally. The state has published 'model oridinace' documentation for towns desiring to adopt regulation. The model ordinance says 500 feet from nearest building.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 8:46AM
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That's correct about local ordinances. I'm a State Regulator and we have permit requirements the local governments don't have. Generally when it's an issue that creates public nuisance that crosses local boundaries, particularly when it affects air or water quality, the State becomes involved.

(Oregon has some of the strictest land use laws and strict regulations on air/water quality. I'm just outside City Limits by 3 blocks, our County regs are not as stringent as the City regs however)

This post was edited by pesky1 on Mon, Aug 25, 14 at 10:24

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 10:22AM
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Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWB) have caused more Hatfield and McCoy feuds between neighbors in cold climate states than any other issue in recent times. Also, these devices have lowered property values and soured relationships between government officials and those who file complaints. If local or state government do not have ordinances or statutes, respectively, there isn't anything an attorney can do until after the fact. Meaning, you can file a nuisance lawsuit once you prove the smoke and odor is interfering with your quality of life. I know of people who spent upward of 20K in legal fees fighting to have an OWB removed. At this point look at the document I provided and set up a meeting with the township to express your concerns.

Here is a link that might be useful: OWB Document

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 10:28AM
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I think you have a good case for saying, " No, thank you."

Here is a link that might be useful: neighbor's wood burning water boiling heater

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:10PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

What is his goal? Save money on hot water? Help him find an alternative, make it win-win: he saves $, and you can continue to breathe.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:13PM
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I would prevent it by any legal means available.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 10:57PM
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I would ask him what the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations are for the system he hopes to install.


Here is a link that might be useful: EPA - article

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 9:19AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Maddielee beat me to it. I would look into violations of the Clean Air rules. Big guns, but still... Most definitely let him know what a nuisance it would be AND that you have concerns about health issues connected to the smoke (which will contain particulate that you will be breathing in!).

Our neighbor built an outdoor pizza oven and the smoke from that is maddening at times (I also like open doors and windows). Your situation would be SO much worse! Also, even if you aren't in city limits, counties also require permits for almost everything it seems.

Let us know what happens.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 6:36PM
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You can also check to see if there is a local community organization with an environmental focus.

We've had a number of environmental issues in the small town where we have a vacation home and I've become somewhat active with a local citizen's group. I'm amazed at the talent and resources displayed by these 'regular' citizens.

There's strength in numbers and while this may seem like an isolated concern there may be others in your area with the same worries.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Our neighbor has one. I have not experienced any of the fear you are guessing COULD happen. This particular neighbor is very in-tune with the organic farming people and living chemical free. Leave him be, your fears will all go up in smoke.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 5:53AM
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From what I have researched, there doesn't seem to be much of a permit process. He has to check with the local fire chief, which he has already done.

Wisconsin is apparently the second highest state in the nation for sales of these types of units, and yet, we have little regulation of them. Check this out from the Wisconsin DNR website:
Complaints, ordinances and regulations
The DNR and Department of Health Services have limited ability to address outdoor wood boiler (OWB) related problems because OWBs are not regulated by the state.

Citizen complaints are handled on a case by case basis depending on the community where the OWB is located and the nature of the grievance.

As a first step, citizens should contact local government officials to see if there is an OWB ordinance for their area. Where there is no local ordinance, direct complaints about the burning of materials such as garbage, plastic and recyclables in OWBs to DNR. For health concerns due to smoke inhalation (for example, if a home is routinely overcome with smoke or if asthma is triggered by the use of an OWB), contact your local health department.

Government authorities may facilitate voluntary compliance by:
contacting the OWB operator about the complaint;
reviewing proper wood-burning practices with the operator; or
checking for proper stack height so that smoke will not impact neighbors.

In communities that have existing OWB ordinances, it is easier for officials to handle complaints because they can write enforcement letters by referring to the ordinance sections being violated.

By adopting ordinances, local authorities can proactively manage OWBs. The DNR has developed a guidance document and model ordinance for local communities interested in regulating the installation and use of OWBs, as well as outdoor burning and the burning of refuse.

Although the EPA has regulations for reducing pollution from residential indoor stoves, furnaces, and fireplace inserts, there are currently no Federal or Wisconsin standards regulating the residential use of OWBs. The EPA offers Burn Wise [exit DNR], which has links to state and local agencies that are working to reduce emissions from OWBs.

The EPA is considering rule revisions that would regulate OWBs by establishing emission limits but these are not expected to be in place until mid 2011, at the earliest.

It doesn't appear there have been any rule revisions for the EPA stuff, because I can't find them anywhere.

From the above, it looks like the health dept is an option, but that would happen after it is constructed and causing issues.

My DH did voice his concern to the neighbor who said he would reconsider, but at the same time, seemed disappointed/irritated. And, I heard some sawing going on over there yesterday. :o(

If you want to see an idea of what these are like, check out the video link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Outdoor Wood Water Boiler Pollution

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 8:16AM
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I am sincere in my question, not trying to be antagonistic. I know a number of people that heat their homes with wood stoves. I have never heard of complaints, what is the difference?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 2:37PM
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I know a number of people that heat their homes with wood stoves. I have never heard of complaints, what is the difference?

The wood stoves sold now have a catalytic converter to minimize wood smoke ... these OWBs do not.

I see a business opportunity for a really efficient, pellet-fed boiler :)

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 2:43PM
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Outdoor wood boilers can only reach a relatively high level of efficiency if they deploy thermal storage. Basically, the fire burns hot and continuous while heating a large volume of water which is subsequently stored in an insulated container. The water is then used to heat the home throughout the day/night. In essence, the OWB uses one burn cycle to heat the water then is not used again until the water reaches a set temperature. This process eliminates the closed damper mode problem as explained below.

Catalytic combustors cannot be used with an OWB because they require a high temperature fire to sustain the chemical reaction needed to to burn the smoke. Since OWBs cycle on and off based on heat demand from the home, the temp is always in a state of flux. In other words, when the home no longer calls for heat the damper closes on the OWB depriving the fire of oxygen and hence cooling the fire. There has been attempts to utilize catalytic combustors with OWBs but all have failed. One company even added a heating element in the chimney to try and sustain the temperature needed but that kinda defeats the purpose of burning wood when you have to pay for electricity to keep the element hot throughout the winter.

Although the newer models burn more efficiently than the older units they use secondary air to achieve a higher efficiency. That said, to achieve a secondary burn, again, a high temp is needed. And again cycling precludes this from happening a majority of the time. In order for a newer model to work as advertised, the OWB must be matched to the square footage of the building calling for heat, the outside temp must be relatively constant, and dry wood must be used. How many of you live in a climate where the temp stays constant throughout the winter? During early Spring and late Fall people continue to use these devices and because the home does not need heat as frequent as during the middle of a cold winter the unit sits in closed damper mode a large percentage of the time belching out sickening dense smoke when the damper opens from time-to-time. This is some of what dealers don't tell potential buyers of an OWB. Manufacturers are notorious for misleading advertising. Unfortunately, the neighbor pays the price in reduced property values and a life of living in hell.

Another very common problem is most people purchase OWB's over-sized to heat additional building which may or may not be used all the time ( outside pole barn) or they simply oversize them with an expectation of installing another building in the future. Bottom-line if the building(s) calling for heat do not constantly call for heat the damper closes smoldering the fire and hence cannot sustain a secondary burn. Again, OWBs can only run efficient if the fire continues to burn hot. When the damper again opens, the fire is energized and burns the creosote that accumulated on the internal metal surfaces during the closed damper mode creating smoke, odor, and particulates. Exacerbating the problem is cold smoke sinks after exiting the chimney. This is why added chimney does not solve the smoke problem. Think of a hot air balloon. When the pilot adds heat the balloon rises when the air inside the balloon cools it sinks, this is the same principle of how a OWB acts during operation. In fact, the higher the chimney the colder the smoke gets as it ascends based on ambient air temperature. Manufacturers' used added chimney height as a possible cure to overcome some local governments' effort to ban OWBs, essentially playing on their ignorance of the science of chimneys.

This short essay explains the dilemma of OWBs. Unfortunately the Heath, Patio, and Barbecue Association is a powerful lobby and uses its clout to convince law makers not to pass laws protecting families' from the health effects associated with large volume of smoke. Keep in mind, a typical wood burner installed inside a home is designed to heat a few rooms OWB's on the other hand are designed to heat whole homes and out-buildings. The firebox in a OWB is large holding over 300 pounds of wood. All in all it's an incinerator smoking out entire neighborhoods.

This post was edited by samual54 on Sun, Aug 31, 14 at 8:34

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 5:08PM
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Samual, Thanks SO much for that explanation. You articulated so well just what the issues are with these things. I'm just sick about this. I'm very careful with and concerned about chemicals.

How can people be so inconsiderate? We live in an upper middle class neighborhood.

Wisconsin winters are notoriously frigid, and heating costs are high. Last winter, there was a serious propane shortage in the state. But that's the way it is here. We pay our heating bills and thank the heavens that we don't have hurricanes.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 5:51PM
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Forgot to mention that in addition to the air particles, things can get worse when some people burn plastics and other junk instead of clean dry wood. There is really little oversight.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 5:54PM
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Suggest that he capture the smoke to fuel an internal combustion engine (gasification) to power a generator. He could probably generate enough electricity for his house AND yours (win/win).

Barring that, some outdoor wood boiler designs are more efficient and cleaner burning than others. If you can't prevent him from building it, work with him to build one that produces the least amount of smoke and ash.


Here is a link that might be useful: Backyard Wood Powered Generator

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 6:28PM
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Update to the first gassification article.

Here is a link that might be useful: Update

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 6:39PM
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Here is a story from a Connecticut newspaper:

Smoke from outdoor wood furnaces burns neighbors

The day that someone in your neighborhood decides to install an outdoor wood furnace is the day that you will forever regret.

These smoke-belching devices will take away one of your basic rights ---- the right to breath reasonably clean air. Unfortunately, that's not a right listed in the U.S. Constitution, so when your neighbor fires up his outdoor wood furnace, you're pretty much on your own.

Just ask Suzan Converse of Maple Street in Weston, who has lived in a cloud of wood smoke since she and her husband and two kids moved there five years ago.

"That's why the previous owners moved ---- and, of course, they didn't tell us," she says.

She says that the smoke from her across-the-street neighbor's OWF seeps into her house, despite her best efforts at keeping her windows and doors closed. She can't hang her wash on the line. Her kids can't play outside. When spring arrives, she can't open the windows. And she, along with her husband and two children, have suffered from various upper-respiratory illnesses from the omnipresent smoke.

Here is a link that might be useful: Outdoor wood furnaces

This post was edited by LucyStar1 on Thu, Aug 28, 14 at 23:45

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 11:43PM
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This poor man that Jan posted prior has been filming (and fighting) the neighbor for 7 years or so.
Here's the video where he shows the difference between stoves and an OWB.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 10:51AM
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After reading everything I could get my hands on, I sure hope this outdoor wood burner never comes to be.

I am stunned there are so few restrictions in this state. Forced to breathe preventable polluted air.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 4:42PM
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I would alert,your other neighbors to the situation, perhaps show them the YouTube video posted above, and warn them that when the wind changes it might not just be your problem.

Our housekeeper had one of these contraptions for several years. Her husband installed it, and they were told by the salesman that it was really a trash burner, not just a wood burner. I don't think people realize the sheer volume of wood necessary to keep these things stoked, Anyway, HK and fam just tossed their PLASTIC bags full of UNSORTED trash into that thing as fuel in addition to granddaughter developed asthma that winter, seemingly "out of the blue," and they all had upper respiratory infections, bronchitis, HK had pleurisy, irritated eyes, etc. A few winters later the symptoms magically abated when the husband was too arthritic to chop enough wood for the boiler and they stopped using it.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 6:48AM
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"How can people be so inconsiderate? We live in an upper middle class neighborhood"

Wow. SO much I want to say..

People move out to rural areas so that they don't have people telling them what to do. If you chose to live in a rural area, then you have to deal with all that comes with it. Unless you want to pay your neighbor's property taxes, I doubt you have any right to dictate the use of his property.

Move to the city, and live within an HOA, so that you can live among your own kind, you know, the upper middle class people who are simply too good to be inconsiderate.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 7:02AM
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Is a lung in rural America different than a lung in urban America?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 8:42AM
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I did not mean to sound snobbish at all but realize that's how I came across. That was not my intention.

We live in a subdivision with covenants, although this is a rural area. This neighbor lives right next door, just as close as a house in town. These outdoor wood burning units are banned in neighboring towns for that reason.

While it may be legal, that doesn't mean it is considerate to install. We chose a subdivision with covenants to protect our property value, but this issue is not addressed (I'm still looking into this though.) In the covenants. My comment you quoted was meant in regard to the concern for property value. These outdoor wood burners, in addition to air pollution, can reduce property values for surrounding homes. Also, some older farm homes never had modern heating systems installed, so these wood burners are replacements for indoor wood burners. But again, these units are not common in closely placed homes in neighborhoods. Our neighbor's house is only ten years old and has an energy efficient heating system installed.

I've seen these burners out on farm properties with many acres, but never so close to a neighbor. I'm shocked there are no setback rules related to other homes. Our neighbor wants this installed just 50 feet from our home. Recommended guidelines are hundreds of feet. Also, it is not possible for him to have the smokestack high enough.

It will affect our air quality, visibility across our property, property value, and possibly even our health. Sealed windows and doors do not stop the smoke from entering the house. Smoke ruins things.

I'm upset about this, and stand by my statement that this is completely inconsiderate given the fact that this unit cannot even possibly be placed within recommended guidelines on our neighbor's property. My husband and son both have asthma, and our neighbor knows this.

Were the roles reversed, I could never make a decision to do something that would so negatively impact my neighbors just to save myself some money.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Again, I did not mean to imply that the virtue of being considerate has anything to do with economic means. I don't believe that, and it's not what I meant.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 9:19AM
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My God, this thread has piqued my curiousity because I have never heard of such a thing. Those videos that forboys posted are incredible. They seem to be prevalent in MN. I live in Canada and this is the first I've heard of these OWB.

Jan, I hope with all my heart you can get this stopped. Those poor people in the videos are suffering, and the proof is there for everyone to see.

Can you show these videos to the authorities?? The condensation and mold in the homes, because of not being able to even use an air-to-air exchanger is beyond imaginable. Anyone who says that these are no different than an indoor fireplace/woodstove is lying.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 10:09AM
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Jan---i'm near lacrosse, i've seen these things in action on cold winter mornings:

not my pic, but gives others the idea of what will happen:

These things should be outlawed unless you are out in the country on 40 acres with no one around you. There is one on the other end of town that during the winter, i've driven through that area and it was like a house was on fire. The problem is some of these people will burn anything in them..wet wood, treated wood, railroad ties, garbage? who knows...they are smoke dragons.

I'd tell him to get a woodstove. Waaaay less wood to stack, buy, haul... other then that... tell him to burn seasoned, dry wood...or...can you get a realtor out there quick? Time to move! Even if you got your township to put an ordinance on them, he might get grandfathered in? (not saying you could get an ordinance implemented).

If you are upwind (say you sit north or nw of his smoke dragon) or west of would be better off. In Wisconsin, the coldest winds come out of the NW/W/N...although in the spring, you can get cold days with strong east winds. South winds are rarer in winter and usually end up being ""mild"", but in that kind of weather he might be tempted to throw some wet mossy logs on because not much heat is called for..the smoke dragon will be belching big time...

Inversions will be your worst enemy (look up what happens in Fairbanks, AK during cold spells)...the air gets caught near the surface and doesn't go anywhere....horrible air quality. You'll probably have to go stay in a hotel in the Dells...or move to Florida until spring arrives.

Good luck...

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 10:30AM
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jasdip - Boy, I'm surprised these outdoor wood burners aren't prevalent in Canada. Maybe there are regulations, and for good reason.

frank - Hello, fellow Wisconsinite! Thanks for posting the picture. It gives a great visual of how far the smoke travels, as well as how it hangs low in the cold temperatures. Our home is on the north side of our neighbor's, but with the close proximity, the direction of the wind is less relevant. Plus, as I mentioned, our neighbor's property is at the base of the hill our home is on, so rising smoke will not be our friend.

We are presenting some sample ordinances to our town board, but I doubt it will go anywhere. The issue is there are properties in our town with many acres of land that could accommodate these things. The properties in our subdivision are in the neighborhood of 2.5 - 7 acres. We have 3 acres, but the placement of our home, relative to our neighbor's is fairly close. So, we could hope for an ordinance that would require a decent setback that would be harder to achieve on properties close to one another.

Still, some states have banned these things altogether, and you can see why.

I am posting a link to the Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers website, if anyone is interested in reading more about this issue.

Here is a link that might be useful: Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 10:56AM
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Because of the amount of smoke generated people a quarter mile away will still be affected by the smoke, depending on wind direction of course. I'll post a few pictures showing some aerial view of the smoke generated from an OWB. You tell me if 1000 feet is far enough away.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:04AM
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Picture # 2

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:06AM
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Last one:

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:07AM
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Lovemytrees - agree so much. We live in the country and I value my freedom with my property.

Jan, I do understand your concern. I have 5 kids and would be ticked if smoke was rolling through my yard and into my kids lungs on the daily. If he is an engineer, he is most likely very cognisant that the most effecient, low maintenance units are those constructed to minimize smoke. That also creates an almost ashless system. I've included a link for some of the nicer systems. Many ways to do it. Obviously can go cheap and have a smoke stack, which majority of people do. Mainly because they don't know how to make an effecient system and it is cheaper. But again if you live in a nice area, he is an engineer, he isn't going to construct something that wouldn't be a reflection of his degree. Most engineers are anal perfectionists. Best thing to do, is something people don't do anymore, talk to him. Tell him your concerns and listen to his ideas.

As far as stopping him, honestly you can't. So work with him, talk to him. The fact he asked you in the first place, sounds like he is a pretty nice guy. I wouldn't have even bothered to ask your opinion. If you gave it and didn't like it, I would give you the option to pay the difference in my heating bill. But thats just me, and i am not very nice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smokeless Heat

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:14AM
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Also, as far as "I don't think people realize the sheer volume of wood necessary to keep these things stoked," on an effcient system, one to two logs daily, not huge logs either, will keep a properly installed effecient system running.

This post was edited by whatwhat on Sat, Aug 30, 14 at 12:23

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:19AM
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Thanks for the images. They are really helpful in appreciating the effects of the smoke. The aerial views are especially eye-opening.

As awareness about caring for the environment increases, more laws and regulations about these sorts of things would be expected. A different neighbor of ours said he looked into heating his workshop with an OWB, but he decided against it after reading and learning more about it.

I'm all for freedom, but when someone else's freedom to install an OWB causes a host of others to lose their freedom to breathe clean air (and all the health effects and personal property damage that comes with it), there is a problem.

Beyond the town ordinance, I'm also researching the restrictions our subdivision covenants have in place.

And there's always the hope that our neighbor will reconsider installing the OWB.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:22AM
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I'm not really sure why no one on here hasn't mentioned smokeless systems. Here is another one. Jan instead of doing all the research for how to stop him and listening to the negatives of the old school systems. Do some research on the new systems.

Also the decorating forum isnt where you will find the most knowledgeable opinions on the matter. Another forum, familiar with alternative heat methods or even construction, might be more appropriate for getting opinions on the matter. Should repost there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Smokeless outdoor wood furnace

This post was edited by whatwhat on Sat, Aug 30, 14 at 11:31

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:27AM
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whatwhat, you both misquoted and misspelled what I said.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:48AM
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You are right, your quote was originally much better than my misspelled and inaccurately quoted one. Guess I was more interested in the misconception of wood needed to power one of these systems, than the quote itself. Should have just not included the quote. Thank you for letting me know. It has been corrected.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:33PM
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Ok, so those pictures change everything.

I had no idea what you would be dealing with. Yes, yes, definitely speak up, do whatever you must, but do everything you can to encourage your neighbor not to do this. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 8:14AM
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What what, your point about the smokeless systems are well taken. Unfortunately, that is not the type of system our neighbor will be installing. Honestly, I've never even seen a smokeless unit in this area, but the smoking type are prevalent.

We have spoken with our neighbor about our concerns, as I have mentioned. He said he will consider our concerns but seems to still be moving forward with his plans to install.

You are right that he doesn't have to get our permission or talk to us at all, and if the only thing that matters is his heating bill, why should he? But as members of a community and neighborhood, shouldn't the impact our decisions have on others matter too?

It's interesting to me that you support our neighbor's rights to install, but discourage my right to take action to preserve the clean air we currently breathe. The smokeless system is not the type that will be installed, so what am I supposed to do?

I'm sorry you think i'm posting in the wrong place. This is a conversation board, and I value the wisdom, support, good grace, and common sense from a group of fantastic people who also cherish the places they call home. They've never once let me down, and this is no exception.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 3:25PM
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The pictures are dramatic but the snow makes me wonder how much of what is seen is only the difference in the air temperatures not actually SMOKE? Wood burning fireplaces are being discontinued in many areas over smoke and tree saving issues. You for sure are not alone in your fears. My REALITY is your fears are unfounded. The neighbor who has an external heat system, well NEVER have I been aware when they are the neighbor who burns his trash because he is too cheap to pay to have it hauled away, him and his melting plastic emissions I could live with out.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 7:25AM
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I'm guessing this would affect more of your neighbors than you. Have you talked with the closest ones? It would likely affect them too, maybe not the same degree, but they would be affected and it could affect the property values of the whole neighborhood.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 11:35AM
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I find this idea that people move to rural areas to be able to do whatever they want, to be very interesting. I didn't know that being rural meant you were exempt from following rules of law.

We have rural property so that we can enjoy the quiet and beauty of nature and breathe clean air. Does the right to do whatever you want in rural areas trump the rights of others to enjoy the outdoors?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 12:12PM
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Even in rural areas, there are still state or county or townships regulations and ordinances. I live in a small city in a rural area. Sure, I can, if I want, keep chickens in my back yard. But I can't have a rooster, except under certain conditions, like I have to have over 1/2 acre of land, which I don't. And if I do keep chickens, I have to a have a proper house for them, and they can't annoy the neighbors.

You still have to get permits for building. If you have livestock, there are regulations regarding their care. You still have to get a dog license. Things like that. There may be *fewer* regulations in rural areas, but there certainly aren't *no* regulations at all.

And it is always possible for regulations to be changed. I'd encourage the OP to address the matter with the HOA board, and see if these boilers can be prohibited, or limited, or the owner be required to show that installation won't affect neighbors in a negative way.

Same with whatever country or other local government there is. Several complaints to local officials are often more effective than the same complaints to state officials. Although, since it appears that the state government is aware of the issue, getting people to contact their state representatives wouldn't hurt, either. No one is going to change the regulations until enough people complain about the existing regulations, or lack thereof. I would at least want an answer from the state as to *why* they don't regulate the boilers. It's clear someone at the state level knows they can be a problem or the document the OP found wouldn't exist.

And the OP may have to wait until after the boiler is installed and in use before anything can be done. My dad once objected to a neighbor's application for a zoning/building permit variance, because the proposed addition and expanded driveway would cover most of the neighbor's back yard. And Dad's house was down hill from them, and he already got a lot of run-off in his yard every time it rained. He was worried about his cellar flooding.

The neighbor was allowed the variance, but wording was included that if water run-off became a problem for any of the neighboring properties, he would have to remediate the problem.

The neighbor could have incorporated some drainage in his plans, but chose not to.

Two years later, after Dad's basement had flooded several times (in the previous 15 years he'd lived there, it had flooded once), and inspection by the town, the neighbor had to install a drainage system that required digging up pretty much all of his two-year old driveway.

So if the boiler does get installed, the OP should document things, starting now. Pictures of her house in various typical types of weather. Then pictures after the boiler is installed. Notations on medical issues for her family members with asthma, what normal usage of their inhalers is now, and later with smoke blowing all around their house. It might come in handy.

But I still think investing a couple of hundred dollars talking to a lawyer experienced in these matters would be a good thing.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 1:51PM
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