2006 Nov. 7: Think Twice Before Setting Up an Outside Wood Burning Furnace
Using an Outside Wood Burning Furnace is Unsafe for Your Neighbor’s Health
Unfortunately, the federal government has no standards that have to meet concerning OWF’s, as of yet. But some states, including Connecticut, have some requirements in place concerning OWF’s. These strict standards have
a set limit on the opacity limits. If a person operates an OWF and the OWF does not meet this limit, they will be heavily fined and will be expected to shut down their OWF.
The emissions level on an OWF is very high. They are extremely higher than those of indoor wood burning stoves (which are regulated by the federal government). The reasons why are that these furnaces have low efficiency and they do not complete the act of burning.
The state of Connecticut DEP compared emissions from homes heated from natural gas, oil and OWF’s. They found natural gas to be the cleanest.
Why do OWF’s produce so much unhealthy smoke? An OWF system consists of a single closed combustion chamber or a firebox. This system or firebox is surrounded by a water jacket. Before wood combustion is complete, the water quenches the flame. This causes the smoke. Smoke is also caused during the off cycle. When an OWF does not need to generate heat, the air fan is off and the air damper is closed. This starves the fire for air. The fire smolders, creating smoke. When the heat begins again, the dampers open and the smoke is pushed out the stack into the air.
Throughout New England, state regulatory agencies have received many complaints about these OWF’s. Many states are encouraging the EPA to take steps to put standards on all OWF’s, such as a regulatory emission standard.
Please disregard all the internet hype about these OWF’s. They have not been tested. None of the emission promises can be proven. And definitely think twice before building your own OWF.
Who should have an OWF: someone who hates their neighbors, someone who wants to see their neighbors sick, someone who wants to ban their neighbors from enjoying the crisp sunny fall and winter days outside, someone who may someday be banned from using it from the federal or state EPA department?