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Wood Stoves and their pollutants. this text file is from the MECA BBS envrionmental text file library.
Topic 656 Wood Stoves
igc:afrey en.energy 11:58 am Sep 30, 1990
The following article appeared in The New York Times 9/29/90:
Coping With Choosing a Wood Stove
By John Warde
Rising fuel costs and concern over the future of oil supplies from the
Middle east have aroused renewed interest in wood stoves.
Retailers of wood stoves are already reporting sales increases of up
to 25 percent in the Northeast since the Persian Gulf crisis began,
said Geoff Wurzel, the communications director for the Wood Heating
Alliance in Washington, a national trade association.
Wood-stove makers are also seeing increased demand from dealers,
some of whom have doubled their orders, Mr. Wurzel said. Prices
are generally not expected to rise as a result, he added, but if the
trend grows, manufacturers may be pressed to meet production
If you are in the market for a wood stove, there are several things
you should know. Probably the most important is that since 1988,
the sale and manufacture of wood stoves in the United States have
been regulated by performance standards established by the
Environmental Protection Agency. The automobile is the only other
consumer product governed by E.P.A. regulations.
Meeting the E.P.A. standards has involved the introduction of
increasingly rigorous antipollution measures, the most stringent of
which took effect on July 1. These limit the emissions of specified
pollutants: for wood stoves with catalytic combustors, the rate is 4.1
grams per hour, and for stoves without such equipment, the rate is
7.5 grams per hour.
A catalytic combustor is a device that cleans smoke by burning
pollutants that usually escape up the chimney. Stoves without
catalytic combustors that also meet E.P.A. requirements usually have
secondary combustion chambers instead; these remove pollutants
from the smoke by burning them at a high temperature.
Virtually all wood stoves now available in stores are E.P.A certified.
A stove with a Phase 2 certification meets the standards that went
into effect on July 1. A stove certified under earlier stages of the
program carries a Phase 1 certification. For stoves with catalytic
combustors this allows emissions of up to 5.5 grams per hour; for
other stoves, the rate is 8.5 grams per hour. These older models can
be sold until July 1, 1992.
Certain stoves that are not certified are still available. these were
made before July 1, 1989, by companies that were granted
extensions because of their small production levels. Stoves in this
category can be sold until July 1, 1991.
Although stoves that lack E.P.A. certification are legal, buying a
certified stove is insurance against any future regulations that may
outlaw them. Local building codes governing new construction are
increasingly specifying E.P.A certification, and some communities
that have banned the use of wood stoves during certain weather
conditions are considering exempting certified stoves.
A certified stove is also usually more efficient, often consuming only
half as much wood as an older stove. Certified stoves are often safer,
since they generally emit fewer indoor pollutants and are less likely
to coat the chimney with creosote, the gummy, flammable residue in
smoke that is the primary cause of chimney fires.
Prices for certified wood stoves start at about $750, but most models,
including those with catalytic combustors, cost 41,000 to $1,300.
Usually, it is best to buy from a local dealer who can take care of
delivery and installation. For extra assurance choose a dealer whose
installers are certified by the Wood Heating Education and Research
Foundation, a non-profit group affiliated with the Wood Heating
Check your chimney before you make a purchase. For safety, a
round chimney flue is best, since square flues like those in many
fireplace chimneys tend to accumulate creosote in the corners. If the
flue is not enclosed in a masonry chimney, it should be double-
Directions for stove installation generally specify the flue size
recommended for the most effective operation. best results are
usually achieved when the diameter of the chimney flue is the same
as that of the stove flue. Expect to pay about $30 per running foot
(more where labor costs are high) for chimney installations or
modifications, said Bruce Nattress, a salesman at Scandia Stoves and
Spas in Kutztown, Pa.
For more information, the E.P.A. has a free booklet, "Buying an E.P.A.
Certified Wood Stove," and a list of certified stoves. These are
available from the Federal Programs Section (EN-341), U.S.E.P.A., 401
M Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20460.
Another free booklet, "Straight Answers to Burning Questions," which
outlines the safe use of wood stoves, and a list of certified stove
installers are available from the Wood Heating Education and
Research Foundation, 1101 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 7000,
Washington, D.C. 20036.
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