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PSA on respecting clearances and keeping your eyes open...

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by mfglickman, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    We have a Fireview, side loading, on a 13" high raised hearth. The stove sits about 2" from the edge of said hearth, so in theory (according to Woodstock) we exceed the 9" (or is it 10"?) clearance from the front of the stove to the wood floor below. It's a side loader, and has about 5 feet of slate hearth to the side, also raised.

    Last Summer my husband and I noticed a couple of tiny burn marks on the wood floor in front of the stove. We questioned whether these could possibly have come from the stove, or perhaps they were from the fireplace, maybe even the previous owners as we just bought the house last winter. We agreed to keep an eye on it.

    A couple of weeks ago, I remembered (!) this conversation and took a look at the floor in front of the stove. Sure enough, there are probably a dozen or more tiny burn marks on the floor.

    I questioned my husband (cause I'm a creep, lol) and asked if he'd ever noticed dropping any embers or even maybe a split that didn't quite fit, on the wood floor. He said no. The couple of glowing embers I've encountered when shoveling ash etc. make me so crazy that I even keep a wet towel with me and wet-wipe the slate.

    So basically we are having these tiny barely-burning embers - evidence is clear - without either of us even noticing it, and they are landing from about the center front to the loading door side of the stove - not even just in front of the door itself. I suspect their location has something to do with the air flow in the room (the outside door to the house is on the loading door side of the room).

    I went out and bought a hearth extender pad that's now living up against the edge of the hearth on the wood floor below. I can sleep again now.

    Just wanted to put this out there, look carefully, very carefully, at your nearby combustibles, even if you meet/exceed the recommended clearances. And for anyone who thinks they don't need to meet front clearances with a side loading stove, think again. My stove board is ugly but it's better than burning the room down.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.

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  2. topoftheriver

    topoftheriver Member

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    Our code calls for a minimum of 20" clearance in front of the stove. I have more and it is wise to be safe than sorry by a foolish misstake. I think many of us have had times when we open the door and a few embers or hot ash comes popping out. I keep a 16oz spray bottle filled with water just in case I need to spray them in a hurry in case you can't pick them up right away.
  3. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    I'm a bit confused - is this a vertical clearance e.g. 10" down? And @ 2" horizontal (to the edge of the hearth) at the front? Sorry if I'm a bit thick trying to understand. So even if you have the distance covered to the floor (for heat), the ember protection is not extended out (to catch the tiny embers)? Even with side loading, it just seems a bit interesting that only 2" horizontal is enough on any side of the stove...? Just curious as my stove has zero heat protection requirement on the floor - but requires ember protection all around - I think it's something like 8" or 10" horizontal distance from the sides (and 18" from the front door - Canada specs)...
  4. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, no, Woodstock counts vertical distance as if it were horizontal, I have their email and it's in the manual. The fact is we exceed their distances, but still were getting little burn marks on the floor. I never would've thought that embers would float out this way but apparently they can, and did. So if it happened to me...it could happen to someone else...take a good hard look at your nearby combustibles. :)
    bag of hammers likes this.
  5. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the sanity check - yeah I assumed you had your facts, it's just my slow fuzzy brain trying to digest things. This is a great heads-up. In fact I was asking about hearth rugs / extenders in another thread - I have a new floor going in now - want some extra protection beyond the hearth, which is already up to spec. I've been worried about this sort of thing - expect the unexpected...
  6. topoftheriver

    topoftheriver Member

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    If you were reading my post (because I received an email) I was referring to the clearance in front of the stove. From the stove's front to the edge of the hearth or other fireproof material should be a minimum 20". The side clearances, rear clearance are all determined from where you are placing the stove and if the materials surrounding it are flamable. For example, in my case, the surroundings are stone. Therefore the clearances can be less than if you were placing the stove near a sheetrock wall, barnboard, panelling, or other flamable materials. If in doubt, check the owners manual and if you don't have it, check online. There is plenty of safety information available.
  7. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure what the email bit, above, is about?

    Anyway, when you say "Our code" what code do you mean? My stove exceeds what's required by the mfr, and my town inspector was willing to accept that once he saw the manual and determined that the front glass was fixed and not a door.
  8. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Do you have a fan on nearby that could be shut off during reloads?
  9. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    No.
  10. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Hi Topoftheriver - I'm not sure what that's about either (the email you got was maybe an alert that someone posted on this thread...?). Anyway, I'm not sure the OP was commenting about a clearance to combustible issue, but more about extending the hearth pad ember protection at the front of the stove (it is a side loader) - to go beyond the manufacturer's spec's. All good info....
  11. ddddddden

    ddddddden Minister of Fire

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    I have a similar install on a raised hearth. I believe Woodstock's hearth requirement is 8" (vertical or horizontal) on the front, 18" on the door side. Your travelling embers might have something to do with hot reloads. I've noticed that sparks shooting out of the door is more likely on a hot reload. I like to let everything settle down, with the stove top ~ 300° before reloading.
  12. topoftheriver

    topoftheriver Member

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    I was referring to the Massachusetts guidelines for fireplace and woodstove clearances. I think they are somewhat universal within minor differences for each state. Nothing else intended.
  13. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    MA also defers to the mfr specs if available, from the few town docs I reviewed. They want 18" off the load/ash door, which for me is on the side, and I've got 4-5 feet of stone hearth there, no problem.

    http://www.amherstma.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1037

    Just a suggestion to keep yer eyes out, not saying my mfr specs are wrong. Fwiw.
  14. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    Also a good time to remind folks that "minimum spec" isn't always the most desirable. We have over 2' on the side and I'm not the least bit unhappy with the extra distance of hearth there. Sure it seems like a waste of space but the door swings open full over the protected area plus enough extra space that if somehow something falls out it would be quite a feat for it to actually get off the hearth and onto the floor.

    On a related thought though - When I was visiting a friend who had one of those hearth extension pads in front of an insert I wondered about something hot falling between the edge of the raised hearth (stone in his case) and the extension pad. That crack there seems like it would almost invite something to jump in and smolder. Does that concern folks who have extended?
  15. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    That is a very good question.... also interested in any comments on this
  16. rijim

    rijim Member

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    It needs to be sealed or flashed with a non-combustible material. Think about the floor material, the combustible dust, wood splinters/chips, etc that is going to fall through that crack; one small hot ash on the super dry material is all it will take.

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