Sweeping changes

The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced new standards for wood stoves — regulations that are proposed to go into effect throughout the country in 2015 and require newly manufactured stoves to cut maximum emissions by more than a third. The Chimney Safety Institute of America, whose CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps help homeowners keep their stoves swept annually and in prime operating condition, anticipates no impact to the industry.

“CSIA recognizes that the EPA plans to increase the requirements as they seek lower levels of particulate emissions,” said Ashley Eldridge, director of education for CSIA and co-author of the 1990 book, The Homeowner’s Guide To Chimneys, Fireplaces and Woodstoves.

The guidelines will mean that newer manufactured stoves will be cleaner burning and more efficient, but also potentially more expensive than earlier models.

As a practical matter, homeowners with wood stoves may desire to hold on to them longer before buying replacements. If that is their choice, it is wise to ensure that they get those stoves routinely swept by a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, Eldridge said.

Wood stoves come in different sizes and heat a single room or an entire home, depending upon how they are configured. They are much more complicated to operate that a traditional fireplace. And sometimes they are in use 7 days a week, so attentiveness is critical.

“As the EPA correctly states, today’s wood stove models feature improved safety and efficiency, producing almost no smoke, minimal ash, and require less firewood,” Eldridge said. “But they still need to be swept, in accordance with how the homeowner uses their wood stove.”

A technician educated and certified by CSIA is a great resource to homeowners. The technician will not only perform an inspection, but also any indicated maintenance. And, that technician is trained to answer the customer’s questions and to suggest ways they can better enjoy their wood stove.

For more information on the proposed standards, which would begin to go into effect in 2015, and for a place to provide comment, visit www2.epa.gov/residential-wood-heaters