Can Wood Burners Cause House Fires?

Tuesday 14th February 2023

Ellen Warren

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Man putting wood into wood burner CONTENTS

In the UK, over 1.5 million wood burners are used daily. However, if your wood burner was fitted poorly, you use wet wood, or don't have your chimney cleaned regularly, there is a high risk of a fire. 

Here at ICE Cleaning, we provide fast and effective emergency fire cleaning services and restoration. Our qualified technicians are available nationwide, 365 days a year, and can be on site within a matter of hours in an emergency.

Read on to find out about the dangers of installing a wood burner.

Why are wood burners so widely used?

Over the past year, the rising cost of living and harsh winter has pushed people to swap gas and electricity for cheaper, more traditional forms of heating. Wood burners have become one of the most popular alternatives, with sales jumping up to 66%.

Not only are they considered easy to use, they are a great heating source in the event of power cuts or broken boilers. Some believe they are eco-friendly, too, but this is untrue. Wood burners are actually the leading cause of fine particle pollution, and are 3,700 times more polluting than gas or electric heaters.

The risks of a wood burner

There are a lot of dangers associated with wood burners, but most are invisible or not common knowledge. They include:

  • Chimney fires
  • House fires
  • Health risks including cancer and lung disease
  • Damaged or stained brickwork
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning

Wood-burning fires produce smoke that is not only damaging to your health, but can also lead to chimney and house fires.

When the smoke can't escape from the chimney, it produces a black, tar-like substance called creosote. This highly-flammable compound can quickly build up in your chimney and must be removed regularly, or it may ignite.

How can a wood burner cause fires?

Most house fires are caused by human error and are therefore preventable. Here are some of the most common causes:

  • Poorly fitted wood burners
  • Cooking appliances
  • Electrical appliances
  • Candles
  • Space heaters
  • Central and water heating
  • Cigarettes and lighters (including matches)

The best way to avert a house fire is by testing your fire alarms frequently and ensuring any electronics are PAT tested. You should also identify any potential hazards such as kindling materials and faulty wiring.

If you wish to install a wood burner in your home, you must have it installed by a HETAS Registered Installer. It's recommended you burn oak, hard maple, and birch wood, and clean your chimney regularly.

Is there a safer alternative?

It’s important to keep your house warm for you and your family’s health. There are alternatives to consider if you’re thinking about installing a fireplace into your home, especially if you are living in a smoke-controlled area.

Bioethanol fireplaces are a safer and eco-friendly alternative to wood burners. The ethanol fuels burn clean, and do not require a flue or chimney that you need to clean or maintain. However, with any heat source in your property, there is always a risk of a fire.

What to do if a wood burner has caused a fire?

In any event of a fire, you must never try to tackle the flames yourself – especially if they are bigger than you. You must alert any other people on the premises, evacuate, and immediately call 999. You should always prioritise the safety of yourself and those around you.

Once the fire has been put out, you must bring in professionals to carry out fire damage cleaning services immediately. The building will be an unsafe environment, and you may be at risk of serious health issues.

Contact us today

We also offer smoke odour removal along with fire restoration and fire damage cleaning, should it be required. Call us on 0208 066 0360 or email us at enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk for a free, no-obligation quote, and we will help you with a plan to coordinate your needs.

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