WETT Inspections – Wood Burning Appliances

Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT Inc.) is a non-profit training and education association managed by a volunteer Board of Directors elected by holders of valid WETT certificates. Through its administrative designate, WETT Inc. functions as the national registrar of the WETT program. Through professional training and public education, WETT Inc. promotes the safe and effective use of wood burning systems in Canada.

A certificate holder will not knowingly contravene any federal, provincial or municipal law, regulation or by-law relating to the sale, installation, inspection or maintenance of woodburning systems. Tests of individual advanced technology stoves show that they produce between 60 and 90 per cent less smoke than the old ‘airtights’. Most advanced stoves average between two and five grams of smoke per hour of use, whereas the old stoves emit as much as 40 grams per hour. In Libby, Montana, where 1130 old wood stoves were replaced by EPA certified models between 2005 and 2007, the average outdoor air pollution (from all sources) was reduced by 30 per cent and indoor air pollution by 70 per cent compared to previous years. All cities and towns with concerns about winter air pollution can achieve big improvements by promoting the use of only advanced technology wood heaters.

Like any other human endeavor, wood heating can be done badly or well. Firewood can be harvested poorly, burned dirty and its heat wasted. The harmful behavior of those who burn wood badly has led to continual attacks in the media on the whole idea of residential wood heating. The increasing public backlash and government response to wood smoke, particularly in urban areas, is of such concern to us here at woodheat.org that we created a new site called The Woodpile to serve as a place to discuss the future of wood heating. Please visit The Woodpile and give your views on the state of wood heating today.

There are no “new” sources of energy that are likely to prove viable. One of the newest energy sources is nuclear power, which has its own environmental problems and is controversial. Regardless of the energy source we choose for home heating, its use will have environmental impacts. The burning of oil and gas contributes to global warming, and their production is declining in many countries, meaning that their price is likely to go up as demand increases. While oil and gas don’t appear to pollute at the point of use, their exploration, production, refining and transportation cause severe environmental damage. Only a relatively small percentage of electricity is from renewables like hydroelectric dams, and even then there are environmental problems due to flooding large areas. Wind turbines will never produce enough electricity to be used widely for home heating.

The US government’s regulation of wood stove emissions, starting in 1988, produced a technological revolution that changed wood heating forever. Wood stoves certified by the Environmental Protection Agency emit roughly 90 percent less smoke and deliver up to one-third higher efficiency compared to older conventional stoves like the so-called ‘airtights’ of the 1970s and 1980s. Advanced technology, EPA certified wood stoves certainly do burn much cleaner and are also more pleasant to use, but there is more to reduced smoke emissions than using better technology. There are really three aspects: advanced technology in the form of EPA certified heaters, good quality fuel that is dry enough and split to the right size, and user practices that can reduce wood smoke and boost efficiency.

All wood, regardless of species, has about the same energy content per pound. The different species vary mainly in density. Traditionally, the favored trees in central North America were oak and maple because they are very dense and produce long-lasting coals. But these are valuable trees and in many areas are not plentiful enough to burn. No problem, just use softer woods like birch or poplar (aspen) or any other tree that is readily available. By far the most important characteristic of any firewood is its moisture content. Keep in mind that people living in the coldest areas of North America have no hardwoods to burn and they get along just fine – their main firewood species are spruce and aspen. Ultimately, it is more important to have wood that is cut and split to the right size and properly dried than it is to get the hardest wood available.

The Barrie Home Inpector is a Certified WETT Inspector and provides services in Barrie, Alliston, Orillia, Midland, Penetang, Bradford, Newmarket, Innisfil, Tiny Beaches, Oro-Medonte, Springwater, Stayner, Wasaga Beach, Alcona Beach, Lagoon City, Brechin, Angus, New Lowell and many other communities in Simcoe County.

Want to find out more about WETT Inspections in Barrie and Area, then visit Roger Frost’s site on how to choose the bestWETT Certified Inspector for all your WETT Certification requirements in Barrie, Alliston or Orillia.

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