Informational Guide

Are Pellet Stoves Safe To Use?

Learn how they impact health and where they can be place for maximum safety.

by Josh M

Pellet Stove in an Old HouseIt’s getting colder, so we all need to consider the best ways to heat our homes.

Pellet stoves are becoming increasingly popular and provide very economical heat during the winter month.

However, as with any heater, you need to know how to use them safely, or they can be a hazard in your home.

In this guide, we’ll determine how safe pellet stoves really are and what you can do to ensure your safety while using them.

Let’s start by looking at the safety features built into most pellet stoves. These vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but you should expect to see most of them in any modern model:

Temperature Sensors

Pellet stoves come equipped with thermocouples to sense the internal temperature of the device. If your stove becomes too hot, this will cause it to break the circuit and shut off. They’ll also shut the stove down if the temperature isn’t hot enough. This is important because it could indicate a blockage in the machine, which could be a fire hazard if it kept running.

Vacuum Switches

Airflow is required to allow the stove to maintain the flames and circulate the heat throughout your home. Sensors are used to gauge how much air there is around your burn pot and will sense if there’s a blocked vent or a significant leak. This will shut the stove down and prevent it from turning on until the issue is resolved.

Automatic Shutoff

Automatic shutoff is used if an issue is detected in the machine. This could be a problem with fuel delivery or if the whole stove has tilted in some way. This helps to mitigate any risk of a fire in your home.

Are Pellet Stoves Completely Safe to Use?

The simple answer to this question is yes, but every heater has hazards. Pellet stoves are one of the safest ways to heat your home because of the device’s safety features and simplicity.

There are two main factors you need to consider with any heater: the risk of fire and injury. The risk of fire with pellet stoves is minimal due to the built-in safety devices. Some people have expressed concern about half-combusted pellets causing blockages, but there is minimal risk of this. If you properly clean and maintain the stove, there is very little risk of fire.

Pellet stoves are also reasonably safe from a user standpoint. Most modern pellet stove models come with heat ventilation which stops the device from being hot to the touch. This makes them safe for children and pets, but you should still avoid leaving the heater unattended. However, some older models don’t have this functionality, so they may be hot to the touch even after switching the stove off. Make sure you approach this type of stove with caution.

All residential wood heaters require testing and verification according to government regulations. All manufacturers abide by these, which should give you more confidence in the safety of pellet stoves. To help ensure the heater’s safety, you should pay for professional installation with a Wood Energy Transfer Technology (WETT) inspection to verify it’s done correctly.

Pellet stoves can be left unattended provided there are no children or animals nearby. They’ll continue to burn until the pellets run out, and if there is an issue, they should shut off automatically. This is a real advantage of a pellet stove as you can safely leave it on overnight and wake up to a cozy home.

In summary, pellet stoves are remarkably safe and much safer than some electric heaters. Of course, they need proper maintenance, but if you handle them correctly, you’ll have one of the safest heating methods available in your home.

Is Regular Pellet Stove Use Good For Your Health?

Pellet stoves, like other wood burners, do produce some by-products. Carbon monoxide is the most dangerous, but your ventilation is specifically designed to get this out of your home safely. Smoke and ash should also be ventilated, so if you have proper ventilation, then there is minimal risk.

Some research has shown that tiny particles from the burned pellets can enter your lungs if breathed in and get into your bloodstream. These are not overtly hazardous, but in large enough doses, they could pose a risk to your health. Proper ventilation will help to limit this risk, and you can try to limit the amount of time you spend next to the stove to prevent breathing too much in.

The key to safety here is ventilation. Make sure you get a professional to fit certified ventilation, and don’t be afraid to pay more for a good job. The money spent here will ensure your family’s safety.

When Are Pellet Stoves Dangerous?

As with any home appliance, you need to be aware of the hazards, and this is doubly true when it comes to heaters. Your pellet stove is designed to be very safe, but there are a few instances when it can become dangerous:

  • Improper Installation
    Your pellet stove needs to be installed in the right place, with ventilation and with all components in place. The most common issue comes from when your stove is placed somewhere without enough air circulation, like in an old chimney, and this stops the stove from working correctly. Getting a qualified professional to install it is vital here.
  • Lack Of Maintenance
    A blocked vent or grill can stop your stove from working properly. Regularly cleaning and maintenance are vital for using your stove safely, and you should also have a professional check-up every year.
  • Unsupervised Usage
    You don’t need to stay with your pellet stove all the time, but you should never leave children around it unsupervised. This could lead to burns or injuries.
  • Improper Ventilation
    If your ventilation isn’t installed correctly, then carbon monoxide can leak into your home. This is potentially deadly, so we advise having certified installation and a carbon monoxide detector installed to be doubly sure.

Ultimately, your pellet stove isn’t going to explode, and there is very little risk of it causing a fire. The automatic shut off should stop any issue before it develops into a real problem, so you can use your pellet stove with confidence that it won’t burn down your home.

Where Should You Place a Pellet Stove?

As we’ve said, installation is key to safety with a pellet stove. You need to have the right location in your home, and it’s best to install your stove as close to the area you want to heat as possible. A basement is usually one of the best locations because heat will naturally rise through your home, and homeowners tend to install pellet stoves there.

A garage may also work well if you’ve got enough free space around it. Installing your stove near a staircase is also a good idea as it allows heat to drift upwards more freely. Whichever room you decide to fit your stove in, you should always try to install it against an exterior wall, allowing you to vent it directly outside.

A pellet stove should never be installed in a bedroom, and you should avoid putting it right in the center of a room. Some homeowners choose to install their stove in an old fireplace, which is fine if there’s enough airflow around the device. If not, you may have to invest in extra ventilation through the exterior wall behind the stove.

Wherever you decide to install your stove, you need to put safety first. You need at least 10 inches of clearance at each side of the device and 1 inch between the back of the stove and any combustible material.

There should be 3 inches of space from the stove’s vent and 16 inches between the top of the stove and any combustible materials. You should also keep any flammable materials, like curtains or blinds, at least 36 inches away from the stove for safety.

How To Use Pellet Stoves Safely (5 Safety Tips)

We’ve given you a lot of information in this article about handling a pellet stove safely, but here are the top 5 safety tips to help keep you and your family safe:

1. Use Recommended Pellets

When fuelling your stove, you need to get the most appropriate pellets. These range in density and size (roughly 3/8 inch to 1 inch), and you should consult your user manual to see what is recommended for your stove.

Wood Pellet Storage
2. Keep Combustibles Away

Keep all combustibles and other fuels away from your stove. Never use any other fuels to light your stove; only use the electrical ignition built into the device. Make sure all other flammables are kept far away, especially if you’ve installed the device in a potentially cluttered area like a garage. Make sure you keep your family away from the stove while it’s running and never leave it unsupervised.

Learn more on how to start a pellet stove and how it works.

3. Clean Regularly

Your ashtray needs to be emptied every week, and your stove needs to be cleaned every month. The ashes can still be combustible, and you should keep them outside until they’ve fully cooled and you can dispose of them safely.

4. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Your pellet stove ventilation should eliminate all harmful gases and carbon monoxide, but you should still install detectors to be safe. These will notify you if you have an issue and mitigate the biggest risk to your health.

5. Inspect Regularly

Your pellet stove needs a professional check-up every year. You should hire a professional to do this for you and get them to check your ventilation, components, and safety features properly.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Are pellet stoves safer than wood stoves?

Pellet stoves burn more efficiently than wood stoves and are therefore more environmentally friendly. The burning is more controlled with pellet stoves, and they are safer than wood stoves.

Are wood stove pellets safe for cat litter?

Yes, wood stove pellets make perfectly safe cat litter as the wood chips absorb waste well.

Are wood stove pellets safe for rabbits?

Yes, they are safe for rabbits as long as nothing has been added.

Can a pellet stove be near a window?

No, your pellet stove should be at least 36 inches from any window for safety reasons.

Conclusion

Pellet stoves are a very safe way to heat your home. This is primarily due to the built-in safety features and the various government codes and regulations that must be followed in manufacturing and installation. Hopefully, this guide has helped explain some of the safety features and given you confidence that pellet heaters are perfectly safe for you and your family.

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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