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Shop Woodstove Safety

January 30, 2013

Burnt car serviceWe lost a detached building the other day.  The structure was a shop/garage.  It was not a residence and no one was inside this structure so no lives were threatened.  The structure was a complete loss however.  While life safety was not impacted (and that’s good), we’re not quite willing to write the whole thing off as “no big deal”.

The owner used the building to work on cars.  The primary source of heat for the building was a woodstove.  The owner fired up the woodstove and went inside to eat something while the stove heated the shop up.  During lunch, the owner noted smoke and upon investigation found flames up the wall around the woodstove.  He called us and investigators found that the stove pipe ran from the stove up and then elbowed out through the wall.  The problem was that the installation only used single-wall stove pipe.

Spokane County requires that the minimum clearance between a single-wall stove pipe and an unprotected wall is 18”.  Anywhere the stove pipe penetrates a wall or ceiling, an approved installation must be in place to ensure the heated stove pipe doesn’t ignite combustible framing materials.  In contrast, most codes allow double-wall pipe to have a minimum clearance of 6” from combustible construction elements.

Many people take a relaxed approach to woodstove installations in shops and garages.  After all, no one sleeps in the garage so life safety isn’t much of a risk.  That may be true, but think about what you keep in your garage and ask if you can afford to lose it.  In most cases we have things stored that we’d just as soon keep around.  A bit of careful attention to woodstove installation can ensure the shop or garage doesn’t get burned down.

In our case last week, the only thing stored in the shop was a 1967 Camaro, and the tools the owner used to restore hot rods.  Give it some thought.  If your shop/garage woodstove installation is not up to code, you could be doing yourself a favor by ensuring it gets upgraded.

If you’ve got questions about woodstoves and fire places you can call us at 466-4602, or email me at, or you can post your questions here as comments on this blog.

From → Fire Prevention

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