Wood heating regulations in the US

Hm, there’s one thing I don’t quite understand. No criticism at all - I’m only curious.
Why are you across the pond so resistant to heating water with wood? Even off-grid people seem to use electric or propane. Even wood junkies, like me. If you go the electric route hot water is more than half your bill, not counting space heating (even more if you have teenaged daughters).

Turning wood into heat is so much easier than into shaft power. Even if you don’t have a boiler heating water is easy. Heating with electric is to me like using your sunday shirt cleaning out the hopper (Wich I did today (different clothes of course) Wife tells me: Not only am I getting fat, I smell like bacon too) :smile:


I totally agree. I have a hot water coil in my wood stove and I preheat the water going into the tank. For me my hot water heater runs my back up heat for the radiant floors. I put it in because here anyways you cannot get a mortgage or house insurance without a heat source other then wood… when we were fully off grid propane was the only answer. Sorry for the thread jump Chris…


Strange world. That’s crazy.
I thought we were suffering more from rules and regulations than you guys. In this case it seems the other way around.


When we bought our house (old farm house in the country), The insurance guy (friend) asked, with a tremble, you aren’t heating with wood are you? If you are, your fire insurance cost then goes through the roof. We are considered “without fire protection” because the nearest fire house is staffed by volunteers, not a 24/7 staff.
That is why we don’t heat air or water with wood. Fear of the Insurance Company! :grimacing:


Hey Jan-Ola for us USofA and even Canada “homeowners”, and “personal liability” insurances have become a begrudged necessity is you want to keep owning your own Real property; or independently supply goods and services for sale to the general “public”.
We here live in cultures with trolling sue-happy lawyers so starving they will advertise for “I-done-been-wronged” clients.
Serious problem here. Only the move-around never stay in one place homeless are safe from pocket-dipping lawsuits.

Want to Home-base do anything from the same location for raising your children then liability insurance becomes a necessity if you are selling eggs, milk, produce, meats, even firewood ANY personal care, etc.
The Progressive Social Dicto’crats have learned this dog-bite-it’s own tail situation well now. Encourage these lawsuits. They then can control uses that they do not approve of. Easy-pleasie (for them). No need to rabble for laws changes. The “for-profit” Insurance Companies and their rate payers then have to do all of the paying, to play.
Why so many here USofA chosen now to socially just drop out. Stratifying our society even farther into those involved/Haves, from those un-involed/have-nots. Have-nots actually functionally meaning having not the grinding $expenses and $problems of producing, supplying anything.

J-I-C Steve Unruh


A post was merged into an existing topic: How to do an Energy Audit

It isn’t as bad as that statement makes it sound. The US is as big as the EU and each one of our states would make up a country in Europe. What is stated is not a US law; it my just be for the areas Dave lives in. We have many people heating with wood up here. The insurance companies are the big problem, and yes even if it isn’t a law, many will not insure a house with wood heat. The big thing up here is Outside Wood Boilers. The insurance companies don’t object to them although many individuals are against them because they smoke very heavily when cycling to the low heat part of the cycle. A system like yours where you run it and heat a large quantity of water periodically would solve that problems also. I use a fireplaces to raise the heat in the evening when we are sitting around the house During the day we keep the gas furnace on a low setting.
I see a trade off in “laws” here. If we had some laws, which we don’t, that you had to clean your chimney once a year, maybe the insurance companies wouldn’t see so many chimney fires and would not be so strict on wood heat. Also chimney designs and spark arrestors etc.
From what I know, I really like the Swedish people, lovely blond haired ladies, and the big strong Sweeds that settled in the UP of Michigan as loggers and mine workers. But I am beginning to think that I complain about the rules in the US more than I should.TomC


MikeR, SteveU, TomC

I was just about to continue the borderline political discussion when I got to this

Pretty much sorts your priorities

Good night
and happy chunkin


ok now that we are not messing up Chris thread I live in Ontario Canada. I would say Ontario is over regulated especially on building . The houses are so tight we have to mechanically change the air in them and provide fresh air to the stoves or they don’t draw right… Very efficient but costly and regulated. Some provinces are easier going. Woodstove standards are not as high as Some US states but they must attain certain standards to be legal. You do not need a legal stove but you cant get fire insurance if its not. No fire insurrance = no mortgage.
best regards, David Baillie


Northern Ontario
My Dad had a Kresno wood stove when I was a kid.
It would get loaded up and smolder all night long while it tarred up the chimney.
The particulate emissions were also something we did not understand as bad back then too.
Modern stoves are cleaner and more efficient but regulations are not so quick to adjust.
People still want to turn half their wood into smoke too rather than efficiently heat with it.
Most people do not understand how to heat clean and safely with wood even when you explain it too them the can not grasp gasification, primary and secondary combustion air and just how much of their wood is wasted by improper combustion

There is also all that rent seeking from the insurance industry and I am sure big fossil fuel companies have done nothing to make it easier to heat your home with wood.
The heating service companies want you to use gas because YOU can not buy parts to fix it too!
AN oil tank has to be replaced every 20 years now and your furnace must be inspected or the oil man will not deliver you any fuel…

If wood for heat was allowed to be easier and cheaper all these people would be out of work…

In the1960s my Dad bought a house with all electric heat because clean efficient nuclear power would make it too cheap to meter electricity.
In the 1970s my Dad put in a wood stove because the hydro costs were too high.
In the 1980s my Dad removed the Kresno stove and replaced it with a natural gas unit because it was actually cheaper than buying wood.
Since then its all been about trying to prevent people from saving money…

Crazier stuff like stoves that burn food ( corn ) are now pushed as a good idea.


Same as here I guess (newer houses).

What surprices me the most are your regulations.
As long as I live outside heavily populated areas I can pretty much do what I want to my house. There is no such thing as unleagal stoves that I know of and insurance companies never ask questions. Old cast iron stoves are actually becoming very popular and are put in many new houses.

I’ve made extensions to my house, new plumbing, boiler, electric, roofing and built a new garage. No one ever checked up on me. Since I do my own chimney sweeping, only the “chimney sweeper departement” checks for obvious fire hazards every other year. They drop a camera down the chimney to check for cracks/damages.
For exampel I now that when it comes to electric you’re allowed to do your own if you have “the nessessary knowlidge”. If your house go up in flames and it’s obvious you’ve done something stupid it’s proven you haven’t had “the nessessary knowlidge” (rather funny law). Compensation from the insurance company might then be reduced.

TomC, I’ve never been visited by taxman either. Property taxes are set by reasent market prices in your area but maximum property tax for a one family house is 650$ a year.


Seems I have been over paying my taxes!

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This has been very interesting and enlightening. We hear bits and pieces about laws in other areas, and think, “oh I wish we had that law”, or " glad we don’t have that law". We can’t pick where we live by a particular law; we would have our homes in one location, our vehicles in another, and breath the air from another. I hope for all of you that you can see more pluses in the laws where you live than minuses. These bits and pieces of laws that I “hear” are concerning to me, but you folks live with them and are not revolting, so I have to think I am over thinking them.

JO, I have built all the new buildings on my property myself. With my bro-in-laws help, I bought logs, sawed them at his mill, brought them home and stickerd them for a few years in the back forty, I plained them, and stored them in my shed. Then I cut them and nailed them into a house. I had handled each board so may times I knew them by first name. I got one inspection from the building inspector in all the time ( 3 buildings built ). She complained about the slope of my stairs. I showed her the three industrial formula used and ask how she calculated the slope. Her reply was, " they just look a little steep " Hmmmm! I win.

You mentioned taxes. I lived under the rule that you have in Sweden when in California. The problem was I bought a house for $35,000 and was taxed on that, ( about $300 tax) A couple of years later they said the average house like mine was worth $70,000 and so the tax went to $600. This went on. When retiring my house sold for $135,000 and had I stayed the tax would have been like $1,400 a year. Not something you want when retiring on a fixed income. The part of the story I haven’t told is; we revolted. The PEOPLE signed a petition and had a referendum vote and passed a law that said the taxes on a home would not change as long as an individual owns the home, but would be updated to a new owner. My taxes never went over $500. ( incidentally, I have heard that that house is selling for $225,000 there now. Housing in LA is CRAZY)

In Wisconsin it is different and I probably “could” complain, but fortunately my situation is not affected by the taxes. I rent my farm land out for enough to pay all the property taxes, including my house, and have a little money left over.

Thanks for allowing this off subject discussion. It has made me look at things as they affect me. Now my worst complaint is, gas prices are on a move upwards do to OPEC’s latest ruling. I had better get out in the shop and get my wood truck back together before I have to complain about gas prices. TomC


I was able to build a house , sheds , and a big barn with no inspections or permits :relaxed:

Tax this year on the above and 140 acres of pasture and timber land were $ 227.89


Hi Tom I agree. There are regulations I like and others I don’t they balance out. For us building a house involves 5 inspections; footings, foundation, framing, insulation and final. Costs on our house added about .5 percent to cost. Wood stove inspection involves assuring stove is epa compliant and clearances are right and chimney is approved costs are about 200$ at time of install. Taxes on my 10 acres and house run about $800 which gives me school taxes roads, dump, emergency services, library, community centre and arena. Mostly I agree sometimes I like to grumble… there are less organized townships in Ontario where you get lower municipal taxes but less services. You have to vote with your feet…
Best regards, David Baillie


Who is up for a move to a wooded acre (or 5) near Wayne…:relaxed:


What and give up my -40 Celsius winters!


Well . . . in the Evergreen Washington State (Clark County located) my house on 1995/96 remodel from 900 square feet to 1300 square feet was inspected DavidB’s five time’s plus four more. Electrical. Plumbing. Insulation. Mechanical. I figured he left off two of those. The bugger do was the “mechanical”. Had to demo out the old brick chimney and put in a $30 a foot triple walled patent metal “certified” SS chimney. O.K. Better functioning, safer chimney - $1,000 for the pipe sections, ceiling and roof jacket, screened cap, and all the bits and pieces. Then had to cover the two walls (1/2" air-gapped stand off) and floor with concrete board covered with tile, the intended wood stove space out to 56 inches. O.K. Safety first - and gave the wife another decorating feature - $1500 all said and done. Ans STILL I was not allowed to put back in the wood stove removed until I could get a newer Washington State emissions certified (EPA phase II) woodstove. 'Nother min $1,000 and up for that. I was out of money and had to work extra for a year to get that first Phase II certified stove.
Fortunately we had been required to have the house remodeled with a non-woodstove PRIMARY heat. Wood only allowed legally on new and major remodels in Wa as a secondary/pleasure heat.
I was family out voted on a propane furnace for that furnace system. I refused legal to use Cadet style electric wall heaters. We went with a then $4,000 central elecrtic furnace instead. After two board replacements, and multiple element replacements on that one in 16 years, we replaced it out three years ago for a better brand of furnace. $6,000.

You are not allowed to weld up your own residence wood stoves here.
Our own trees to use for construction lumber would have “by code” required specific lumber dimensional planing, kiln-curing, and individual you-hire lumber grading stamped. So. Just had to buy commercial lumber.

Current annual property taxes on this 1300 sf house on a one legal acre has increased from finished in 1996, $900. usd to current $1,600.
The adjoining 14 acres of woodlot land annual taxed as $1,800. usd.
Plus we have bits and pieces of property in and around.

Had the Wa state based, homeowners insurance company we’d had for 15 years opt-us-out in 2005 due to our wood heating.
We had to switch companies to a US national based company.

In the six urbanized counties with the major cities in Wa State; they make it VERY expensive to use wood-for-heating.

Cost us woodstovers here to legally comply heat and send all of that very “Green” air over to Idaho and Montana far less wood-use restircted.

Why live here? Both the wife and I were born here. Will die here. Got the plots already bought in the family section of the graveyard.

J-I-C Steve Unruh


I think you win the" holy crap that’s a lot of bureaucracy " award. You are right I omitted the mechanical sub trade inspections. Luck for us you can still do all of them yourself in your own house as Long as you pass inspection at the end. Note to self I am not moving to Washington state… Vancouver BC was getting that bad when I left the left Coast. 17 years ago.


I live on the opposite side of the state of Wisconsin from Tom C, about 40 miles east of St.Paul, Mn. Our real estate taxes are about $4000 per year for 100 acres, 30 of which is tillable. We built a new house in 1992 and ran into the same “can’t heat with wood” story from the insurance company. Funny thing is, we could have put in ANY kind of fireplace thingy and we’d have been fine.
I think the big “wood stove = house fire” scare started in the 1970’s with the first oil scarcities occurred. Out here in the country, just about everyone who could do it, switched to wood from fuel oil. Trouble was, many of them lived in old houses or farm houses that had once upon a time been heated with wood. They had poor or worn out chimneys. The structures were old. The current residents didn’t understand how to handle a wood fire.
The chimneys were often soot covered from may years of oil-fired smoke. A lot of homes around here still had wood shake shingles.
Well, guess what? Most of them burned down.
Somebody did a study of the kindling temperature of wood as it ages in the presence of heat (think of the wooden structure that surrounds most chimneys, even it it is a foot or two away). They found that the kindling temperature can drop to as low as about 250 degrees F!!! Around here, the wooden structure is/was actually supported by the brick chimneys in many cases!
Well, I can see why the insurance companies would not want to go through that again.
But allowing fireplaces? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Pete Stanaitis