Burn inside, not outside.
November 11, 2012 12:38 AM   Subscribe

Can I stack wood adjacent to (and touching) my wood burner - like this?

I did this because it looks nice and uses the space well. My significant other said that I can't do that, as she reckons the logs could ignite. I'd be surprised if that could happen without a flame, but, askmetafilter: who is right? Thanks!
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots to Home & Garden (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We-eell, only the idea of the risk would be enough for me not to do this. You don't want a stack like that to burn in your living room.

The rationale behind this kind of safety talk is that fire does weird things. You need no more than a spark for a pile like the one you have on the left, if things are going bad.

[Talking as one who central-heats an entire house with wood; I've watched all sorts of sticks ignite both unbearably reluctantly and with astonishing fervor, in seemingly random patterns...]
posted by Namlit at 12:56 AM on November 11, 2012

Big no-no in my house.

You dry out the wood wonderfully well (and, yes it does look good). But when the wood is dry it just takes a spark to ignite. A match that breaks when you try to ligth it... Some embers falling from the stove and - whammo - a couple of hours later a fullfledged fire outside the stove.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 1:21 AM on November 11, 2012

As someone who grew up in a house heated by wood stoves, I would definitely not do this. Having that much hot, dry fuel adjacent to the stove is asking for trouble. Stoves throw sparks fairly often, depending on the type of wood used.
posted by ryanrs at 1:26 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The manual for the wood burner will say something about a minimum alcove clearance and distance from combustible materials. When I had my stove installed, I had to have fire-resistant backing board installed in the alcove despite a gap of several inches between it and the stove.

So while I suspect that the stove isn't very likely to ignite all that wood on any given day, there's a risk. There's also the risk of the odd bit of stuff falling out of the stove when you're feeding wood into it; it doesn't take much to ignite a pile of what will be very very dry fuel.

Probably more significant is the fact that you're blocking air circulation around the sides and back of the stove. This will reduce its ability to heat the room effectively.
posted by pipeski at 1:27 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, think about all that lovely space for critters to move into.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 1:29 AM on November 11, 2012

Almost certainly not. I'd bet the size of the alcove is the minimum clearance required by your stove's manufacturer.

Wood will easily ignite when exposed to high radiant temperatures; actual open flame isn't required.
posted by Mitheral at 1:36 AM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Oh, heck no. You could stack some wood nearby to dry, but it absolutely shouldn't be touching the stove or positioned where a spark thrown from the open door might land on it.
posted by jon1270 at 2:13 AM on November 11, 2012

No no no!

Not only are you asking for trouble regarding a fire, but as pipeski noted, your air circulation pattern will be affected and you won't be getting as much heat value from the wood you're burning. Also seconding the critter hideaway. It's a PITA to have to haul wood in every day, but the less you keep inside, the fewer spiders and hitchhikers you'll be making a home for. Have a pile to the left or right of your alcove, and then a big stack near the door so you can bring in a couple logs every time you come in.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:29 AM on November 11, 2012

OK I'll be the 9th person to vote no. Looks dangerous.
posted by wilful at 2:40 AM on November 11, 2012

whammo - a couple of hours later a fullfledged fire
The point is rather, you can make that minutes...
posted by Namlit at 3:21 AM on November 11, 2012

NO! That is not safe, by any means.

Also, it blocks the flow of air around the wood stove and impacts on the efficiency.

posted by HuronBob at 3:46 AM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

No! That looks super-dangerous!
posted by unreasonable at 4:43 AM on November 11, 2012

Anecdotal, but I my friends' family had a house fire start without a spark when the wood they'd stacked too close to the stove had dried out enough and then heated up enough to catch.

That wood wasn't as closely stacked as yours is.

You've got go remember that woodstoves were designed to radiate heat out into the living space, and that the burning temperature for wood can be a lot hotter than the kindling temperature.

posted by gauche at 4:45 AM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Move that wood now.

Improve your airflow, ease your s.o.'s mind, and increase your own safety: Re-stack that pile TODAY. It's not about who's right, it's about who's not dying in an avoidable house fire.

(Also, thermometer? Steam pot? Separate ricks for kindling and logs?)
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:04 AM on November 11, 2012

If I saw that in any house I would take it apart instantly.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:14 AM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Last week I lit my wood stove for the first time this season. The spider webs between the back of the stove and the wall caught fire just from the radiated heat of the stove. It filled the room with smoke, but we were lucky that there wasn't much to burn there.
posted by fuzz at 5:16 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not just no but hell no. It's possible to run a stove hot enough to make the metal glow red -- do you really think having wood resting against the outside is smart? The manufacturer (and probably your local building code) will spec a minimum distance to combustible material, and I wouldn't be casual about violating that.
posted by Forktine at 6:10 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

A common rule of thumb is to keep combustibles three feet from the woodstove.
posted by meindee at 6:10 AM on November 11, 2012

Husband's comment: Code for clearance on a triple-walled chimney pipe is two inches from any combustibles (here; ymmv, but still). For the actual stove, it's more.

DTMFGoodUseOfSpace and move that wood.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:16 AM on November 11, 2012

Code for clearance from any combustible (such as a wall) is 18-24 inches in most jurisdictions. And nothing should be between them.

Wood does not need a flame to ignite. Wood will smolder over time and gradually turn to charcoal, and then the temperature needed to start an actual fire is much lower.
posted by yclipse at 7:40 AM on November 11, 2012

Another...NO. Move the wood immediately. Close is risky, touching is never. Seriously.
posted by nevercalm at 8:12 AM on November 11, 2012

Just to pile on...no. That's super-unsafe. (I'm surprised there's enough clearance in that nook for the stove, actually.)
posted by leahwrenn at 9:01 AM on November 11, 2012

No. And I'm wondering about the construction of that alcove, too — I'm hoping it is all stucco with brick or concrete block behind it and NO wood lath or studs of any kind inside. What happens to wood inside a wall like that, or sometimes rafters that are in proximity to an unlined brick chimney, is that over a long period of time they slowly carbonize because of the heat, which lowers the temperature at which they spontaneously ignite. So eventually they start smoldering and you have a fire inside your walls.
posted by beagle at 9:11 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

If your house burns down and the insurance company reads this thread or finds out some other way, you won't collect a dime.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:17 AM on November 11, 2012

Gracious, what a consensus.

Thank you all very much for your help! You will no doubt be pleased to see http://imgur.com/o5AFp. And no doubt my young kids - never mind my s.o.! - will all be grateful to you for not being blackened to a crisp...

Thanks again.
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 9:54 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

That nook, without the wood in it, is really pretty, and you're showing the gorgeous lines of that stove.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:05 AM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah, that looks much better! An old, appropriate sized metal box or trunk on either side of the fire nook (but outside of it) could look nice filled with wood. Thank you for saving your family!
posted by the fish at 1:28 PM on November 11, 2012

Hartham's Hugging Robots and family, we're happy to do what we can to keep you around!
posted by BlueHorse at 3:44 PM on November 11, 2012

The other thing is, what about when you want to throw more wood on to keep the fire going -- do you want to have to squeeze past or lean over a hot stove to grab it from behind? Looks like you're rearranging for other reasons already though...
posted by ecsh at 7:10 PM on November 11, 2012

« Older All rape is rape, amirite?   |   Looking for music with a similar mood to the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.