Wood stoves built before 1990 were not regulated except if they were approved by a safety laboratory for floor and wall protection clearances. Starting 1988 the Federal government established emissions standards for all wood stoves sold in the United States and by 1990 all manufacturers had to pass that standard or stop producing wood burning stoves. This improvement caused efficiency to rise so that wood stove operators started using from 30% to 50% less fuel, the skies stopped having white wood stove smoke and many other improvements came along like self cleaning glass doors, ash drawers, 8 hour burn times, heat activated circulation blowers and more. You can always identify your stove's make, model and serial number by finding the aluminum label, which is typically on the back of the stove. One really quick way to estimate if the stove is EPA approved is to see if it has a self cleaning glass door. These came about at the same time as the EPA standard was established. If it is EPA approved it will say so there on a label that looks like the photo on the left. Unfortunately on a wood burning fireplace insert the label is usually inside the fireplace on the back or side of the stove and inaccessible without some dismantling of the surround panels or venting. The safety testing laboratory will list the approved clearances to combustibles on a chart like the one on the right that takes into consideration different clearances if the interior stove pipe is a single or double wall, and other possible variations. It has become very common for insurance companies to demand that homeowners identify the Make, Model and Serial number of their stove to determine if it is safely installed. The label where that information is found. Owners manuals also go into much more information on installation and maintenance and are available for many modes on our web site. In the 1970s and 1980s any welding shop in the nation could build a stove and over 600 brands or un-named designs were on the market as energy prices rose dramatically with the Arab oil embargo and homeowners installed them creating pollution and safety problems. First catalytic converters were added to by many manufacturers but these hampered self cleaning glass doors, created a bypass handle that had to be operated every time the stove door was opened and a costly part to be replaced every few years. Non-Catalytic wood burning stoves were also being designed using air tubes across the top of the firebox feeding pre-heated air into the smoke before exiting, which creates a secondary burn cycle burning more particulate matter for cleaner air and more efficient heat burning, as well as a cleaner door. These Non-Catalytic wood stoves soon became the industry standard.
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