Are you considering installing a new wood stove in your home but realized the ideal location would place it directly in front of a window? Did you perhaps just buy a new home where a wood stove is already in this precarious position and find yourself wondering “how safe is this setup?” If so, you’re not the first. Wood stoves are fantastic appliances for heat and cooking, but people often wonder how risky it is to place them near a window’s glass panes.
Wood stoves should not be installed directly in front of windows for risk of heating the window’s glass to unsafe temperatures that could pose a fire hazard or cause cracking and other damage. The minimal clearance distance for a wood stove from a window is 36 inches. This should be paired with other precautions for maximum safety.
In this article, we’ll discuss why it is vital you install your wood stove several feet from any nearby windows and how certain wood stoves can alter this distance. As you read, you’ll also learn some precautionary tips for ensuring safety if you choose to place your wood stove near a window or if this location is unavoidable.
How Far From a Window Should a Wood Stove Be?
While it isn’t recommended to install a wood stove directly in front of a window, it is possible to place it near one, as long as it is a safe enough distance away.
Most experts agree that the safest distance to put between a wood stove and a window is at least 36 inches. However, if your goal is simply to install one that will meet the minimum requirements set by most building codes, then 12 inches is usually sufficient.
These distance regulations and recommendations are ultimately for safety, as wood stoves can exude a significant amount of heat around and behind it. This is why many people install wood stoves in their homes, as they are an efficient appliance for heating a room.
One factor you’ll want to consider when installing your wood stove, apart from building codes, is the stove’s size and average heat output.
The larger your wood stove measures in size, the more wood and fuel it can hold, and the higher temperatures it can reach that then radiate from the woodstove onto its surroundings.
Therefore, you’ll want to increase the distance between these large wood stoves and any surroundings buildings, as they are at an increased risk of causing unwanted damage.
What Are the Risks of Placing a Wood Stove Too Close to a Window?
Although it might be tempting to place your wood stove directly in front of a window, maybe for aesthetic purposes or to increase usable space, there are several reasons why this is inadvisable.
Wood stoves are one of the most common sources of residential fires in the United States. In fact, the United States Fire Administration estimates that these charming fixtures cause over 4,000 residential fires annually.
This, in turn, leads to thousands of insurance claims that could have been avoided if the wood stoves were installed properly (although other factors are at play here, such as the stoves age, maintenance, etc.)
There are several risks associated with installing your wood stove too close to windows, such as:
- Cracking, warping, or shattering the glass panes
- Setting curtains, blinds, and other window fixtures ablaze
- Damaging walls surrounding the windows
- Setting wallpaper ablaze
You might be surprised to read that wood stoves can wreak such havoc on your home, but it’s true. Most wood stoves can generate heat well over 1000 degrees, which is enough to cause a significant amount of damage, particularly to your windows.
Modern day windows are usually made from tempered glass, a material that can withstand temperatures up to 470 degrees Fahrenheit. While this is certainly enough to endure the hottest summers, its not enough to overcome the extreme heat radiating from your wood stove.
So, while its tempting to budge your wood stove up against a wall or window for the sake of space or aesthetics, this is far from the safest location for it.
What Additional Safety Precautions Can You Take?
Providing sufficient clearance between your wood stove and windows is only the first step to ensuring your home is safe from any wood-stove-related risks.
In addition to installing a wood stove at least 36 inches from windows, it is recommended that owners:
- Have the wood stove properly installed by a professional
- Inspect the stovepipes and chimneys for blockages before each use
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the wood stove
- Have a fire extinguisher present in the same room as the wood stove
- Only install a masonry or UL-listed chimney (never single brick)
- Install a proper ventilation system (should be as short as possible and connect the stove to a chimney using crimped, male ends and no more than 2 right angle elbows)
- Use proper fuel (hardwoods are best ex. maple, beech, ash)
These precautions are vital for preventing any serious fire hazards or damage cause by a wood stove as well as ensuring you are prepared should an emergency occur.
Apart from these helpful tips, it is also recommended that owners clean their wood stoves regularly. You should clear any debris after each use and then give your wood stove a thorough cleaning once a year.
This will guarantee your wood stove’s functionality and longevity as well as prevent any excessive creosote buildup (a highly combustible fuel that can line your wood stove’s chimney and stovepipe and pose a serious fire hazard).
If you’re considering installing a wood stove in your new home or vacation cabin, we highly recommend avoiding the windows altogether. However, if you’re really set on placing the wood stove here, for whatever reason, make sure it is at least 36 inches from the window for the sake of safety.
The damages woods stoves can cause when not provided proper clearance should not be underestimated. That being said, in the end, most of these issues can be avoided by keeping this appliance well maintained, giving it the space it needs, and hiring a professional to have it properly installed.