woodburner/nonwoodburner interface

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woodburner/nonwoodburner interface

Postby bodhi » Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:47 am

recently i have noticed that some of the woodburners on the forum have stated that they feel certain kinds of woodburning should not be allowed in populated areas. i find this interesting and encouraging.
in many populated areas where woodburning exists, it has created serious problems for people living next to the burner.
the problems have ranged from not being able to open windows or be outside in the yard to the house filling up with smoke and having to spend the night in a hotel, or even selling the house.
do any of the woodburners have ideas about how to address this issue and how it might be resolved.
your thoughts will be appreciated,
~bodhi
p.s. lets save the pollution problems associated with gas and electric for another topic.
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Postby Harley » Thu Mar 15, 2007 9:02 am

Well, I'll take a stab at it, but I know its really not going to be a definitive answer.

The part:
"house filling up with smoke and having to spend the night in a hotel, or even selling the house."

is the part of the question I have a problem with, since I cannot fathom that situation. I'll make the leap of faith that the situation has happened. That's the easiest to deal with. If it REALLY IS THAT BAD, immediately call the police, the fire department AND local health department. Take pictures if you need to and make sure the situation is well documented. I'm sorry, but i cannot believe that if the fire department and health department come to your house and its "FILLED up with smoke", they are not going to do something about it, no matter where you live.

The other issues you describe will certainly need to be handled in a different way, since each neighbor is going to react differently, and its going to depend on your history with them. I tend to think of myself as a pretty reasonable and considerate neighbor, and I think my neighbors are the same way (that could be because we are about 1/3 mile apart on either side).

Here is what I would do and the way I would react:

lets say I were burning brush over the weekend (actually I may end up doing that this weekend). I get the permit in the AM, then I head over to each of the neighbors houses and let them know what I'm doing, so they don't call the FD if they smell smoke. I've never had an issue or complaint in the 13 or so years I've lived there.

Next example - I get a call or visit from my neighbor who says "I think there's something wrong.... I am getting smoke over at my house and I think its from your woodstove". I would take that seriously, since I KNOW that should not be happening. I will pull the stove, inspect the chimney, and find out what the problem is and have it corrected.

The next example I have to state as hypothetical, since again... my neighbors aren't like this. lets just say I have a neighbor who is a chronic complainer who just like to make noise. This person comes over to my house in the winter and says "your woodstove is dirty, offensive, dangerous, etc, etc. and I can smell the smoke over at my house - I want you to do something". The first thing I would do is walk over to the chimney and ask them to look up. I'd say "can you see any smoke"... answer "no"... "can you smell any smoke?"... answer "no". Then I would offer to go over to their house and see if I could detect any smoke of find the source. If I go over and cannot detect any smoke or smell, I guess I'd have to leave it at that. IF they insist they can smell smoke, when there isn't any there.... I don't think there is much I can do.
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Postby slowzuki » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:20 am

Well the start would be emissions regulations on outdoor wood boilers. There are some good ones, but mostly terrible ones.

Next, ban on using fireplaces. They are dangerous in inexperienced users hands, they don't make any heat and they pollute a lot. Make people block them or install epa inserts. Start with new houses and use the energy efficiency codes like other areas to enforce it. A massive brick chimney costs a fortune, why not make an insert manditory too.

Stove exchange programs, offer rebates to scrap old pre-epa polluters and replace with epa tier 2 stoves or pellet stoves.

Education for users, many new stove owners via house purchases don't know how to use a stove effectively and will burn all kinds of garbage. I still haven't convinced my father in law that burning plastics is terrible for the people around him.

Better automation of stove controls, most problems are still caused by improper appliance operation or lack of maintenance. There exists ways of compensating for some of this in stove design.
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Address all forms of pollution

Postby begreen9 » Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:10 pm

Best not to be too myopic. Address all forms of pollution and the wood burners will get the message to clean up their act as well.

"You can help to reduce global air pollution and climate change by driving a car that gets at least 35 miles a gallon, walking, bicycling, and using mass transit when possible. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, make your home more energy efficient, and buy only energy efficient appliances. Recycle newspapers, aluminum, and other materials. Plant trees and avoid purchasing products such as Styrofoam that contain CFCs. Support much stricter clean air laws and enforcement of international treaties to reduce ozone depletion and slow global warming.

Earth is everybody's home and nobody likes living in a dirty home. Together, we can make the earth a cleaner, healthier and more pleasant place to live."

from: http://healthandenergy.com/air_pollution_causes.htm
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Re: Address all forms of pollution

Postby slowzuki » Fri Mar 16, 2007 5:50 am

1 lighting is a tiny fraction of energy use.
2 if you heat with electricity it makes no difference in your electrical consumption to make the switch (northern climates)
3 compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury
4 compact fluorescents are disposible products, not servicable like full sized ones.
5 the ballasts of cf's don't like being turned on and off so to have long life they need to be left on. Incandescents last longer when left on too but are more forgiving to cycling.

LED's hopefully will help us improve this entire field.

begreen9 wrote: Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs,
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Postby begreen9 » Fri Mar 16, 2007 8:00 am

1 lighting is a tiny fraction of energy use.
2 if you heat with electricity it makes no difference in your electrical consumption to make the switch (northern climates)

While I don't disagree with the concern about the total life process of CFLs, the first two statements are totally false.

Lighting is about a quarter of the total US electrical load - 8.2 quads! That is not a tiny fraction. In many office buildings it is over half the building load. And in summer extra cooling has to be added to deal with the heat given off by lighting. A home electrical bill can easilly be 25% lighting, especially in the winter. This can be even larger with large outdoor lighting setups or in homes with their ceilings peppered full of recessed lighting.

Getting back to the focus of the thread:
Most wood burners are a responsible lot. They try to burn cleanly and efficiently. The industry is constantly working to improve its product and sponsors old stove changeout programs. Just as one bad apple doesn't mean the tree is bad, one irresponsible woodburner does not represent the community. We'll all work better together by understanding this.

Here's a link on stove changeout programs:
http://www.woodstovechangeout.org/
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Postby bodhi » Sat Mar 17, 2007 9:30 am

begreen9 wrote:Most wood burners are a responsible lot. They try to burn cleanly and efficiently. The industry is constantly working to improve its product and sponsors old stove changeout programs. Just as one bad apple doesn't mean the tree is bad, one irresponsible woodburner does not represent the community. We'll all work better together by understanding this.


how should a non woodburning neighbor deal with an irresponsible woodburner? ie: the inside of the house smells like smoke, the windows cannot be opened and the yard is unusable.... and the stove owner is not concerned about this impact.
unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in populated areas.
~bodhi
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Postby northlands » Sat Mar 17, 2007 11:37 am

bodhi wrote:
begreen9 wrote:Most wood burners are a responsible lot. They try to burn cleanly and efficiently. The industry is constantly working to improve its product and sponsors old stove changeout programs. Just as one bad apple doesn't mean the tree is bad, one irresponsible woodburner does not represent the community. We'll all work better together by understanding this.


how should a non woodburning neighbor deal with an irresponsible woodburner? ie: the inside of the house smells like smoke, the windows cannot be opened and the yard is unusable.... and the stove owner is not concerned about this impact.
unfortunately, this scenario is quite common in populated areas.
~bodhi


I don't see this as a wood burning issue. Rather, it's a "neighbor" issue. I have a neighbor who insists on burning stuff in a firepit in his back yard. He burns everything in that pit, including plastic. When the wind blows away from my house, it's no problem. If it was blowing directly at my house, however, it was a problem. I complained to him. I complained to his wife. I complained to his kids. Nothing happening. Then a bunch of us neighbors got together over a few beers and we cornered the guy and he promised not to burn garbage in his pit anymore. When he broke his promise, we got together a petition and presented it to the county law enforcement office. Burning plastic is illegal, and he was warned that future violations would result in heavy fines. The problem went away. We had the same issue with a constantly barking dog in our neighborhood. Again, the threat of fines made the problem go away.

I can understand how some people might be very sensitive to wood smoke. I know I'm that way about cigarette smoke. However, I'm afraid that you're not going to find that many people who get all excited about the dangers of wood smoke. I like the smell of a campfire, and it doesn't irritate my respiratory system at all. Sure, if I get too close to the smoke it does, but I simply move away, and I'm fine.

My suggestion is to draw on the old adage that it's easier to attract flies with honey than vinegar. Be nice to the neighbor. Do him favors. Let him or her know gently about that oversensitivity to wood smoke and how it's making life miserable. If it's truly and actually bringing the smell of smoke into one's home, then I suppose it's time to call law enforcement about treating it as a public nuisance. But I suspect that it would really have to be bad before law enforcement would be willing to get involved. The average "joe" or "jill" just doesn't see wood smoke as being that big of a deal, although I'm sure there are exceptions--just like there are some people who will die if they eat a nut.

As far as opening windows goes, that's hard to relate to in the upper midwest. During wood stove season, the windows never get opened, and the yard generally has a couple of feet of snow in it. Maybe this is an urban/big city and southern issue?

northlands
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Postby Anti-Cancer from New York » Sat Mar 17, 2007 8:13 pm

hey, i live in a rural area, with everyone on about 7 acre properties and i had a problem with woodsmoke covering my lawn a few nights ago, and getting in my house, and my eyes burning, and i had to breath through my mouth cuz my nose was stopped up from the smoke. what am i going to do? my neighbor has an outdoor wood boiler about 1500 feet away. he does not give a damn if i get smoke on my property. and yes, i have seriously considered moving away and i think my neighbor hopes for that too cuz he isn't going to do anything. some neighbors are selfish and not so smart.
lori stilts, in the midwest, had to sue her neighbor and cite her family's deteriorating health. she refused to talk about it on the phone, but yeah, she had to sue and move. also, a woman named sharon, in poughkeepsie, had to move from some outdoor furnaces. she was totally stressed. i have an acquaintance in town who had to move and she said she has had tens of thousands in medical bills from woodsmoke. and i am talking about a very rural area that i live in. i hope all people who have woodstoves follow down the same path as those who smoke. cuz woodsmoke is secondhand smoke, and it will cause worse health problems.
Woodsmoke causes cancer. Woodsmoke kills. Cigarette smoke kills 1200 people a day in America. About 1 out of 2 people now have cancer in the United States. Without your health, you have nothing
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Re: woodburner/nonwoodburner interface

Postby NY Woodburner » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:57 am

bodhi wrote:recently i have noticed that some of the woodburners on the forum have stated that they feel certain kinds of woodburning should not be allowed in populated areas. i find this interesting and encouraging.
in many populated areas where woodburning exists, it has created serious problems for people living next to the burner.
the problems have ranged from not being able to open windows or be outside in the yard to the house filling up with smoke and having to spend the night in a hotel, or even selling the house.
do any of the woodburners have ideas about how to address this issue and how it might be resolved.
your thoughts will be appreciated,
~bodhi
p.s. lets save the pollution problems associated with gas and electric for another topic.


I think the biggest bang for the buck item is to get OWBs up to EPA standards. As noted elsewhere, while nearly any vehicle/appliance gets worse over time, the EPA standards made a huge leap forward for indoor woodstoves. Even after years of use and questionable maintenance, these stoves still outperform pre-EPA stoves by substantial margins. And that trend continues to improve with each new generation. OWBs are exempt from this and as a result exhibit many of the worst possible practices. I would hate to live next to one myself. The situations described are indeed shocking and nothing like anything I have seen locally.

At the same time, it's important to have an educated group setting policy on OWBs. There is one well known European company (TARM) that sells a very advanced unit that is clean enough to pass EPA regulations for installation in a house or basement, but can also be installed outside. This unit uses state of the art gasification technology. They make it very clear that it is not designed for wet wood, trash, etc. (Hard to say what the guys selling OWBs at the county fair are telling potential customers...) Additionally, they strongly advocate using large water storage tanks so that one can light a very hot fast fire that inherently burns cleaner than even EPA woodstoves. This is a big contrast with typical unregulated OWBs that damp the fire way down when the thermostat isn't calling for heat, and that leads to a very nasty smoky cycle. TARM systems transfer the intense high heat into water storage tanks, and those tanks are tapped throughout the next 1-2 days to provide radiant or baseboard heat as needed. These kinds of systems should not be banned - they represent the state of the art in wood heating technology. If you read up on masonry heaters, you'll see they share the same principle - burning very very hot through complex gas channels that result in complete incineration beyond what any woodstove can do. They too are outstanding, common in Europe, but very expensive. So the EPA stove guidelines are designed to find something close to these ideals but affordable. Just like you can find European oil burners that exceed our efficiency numbers, but are prohibitively expensive for most Americans.

Our area also imposes outdoor burn bans when towns reach a threshold population. It does not ban grilling, but it does ban large leaf/brush burns, and of course garbage. Does CA do the same?
EPA certified catalytic wood heaters - A carbon neutral renewable green energy solution!
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Re: woodburner/nonwoodburner interface

Postby bodhi » Sun Mar 18, 2007 9:14 am

NY Woodburner wrote:Our area also imposes outdoor burn bans when towns reach a threshold population. It does not ban grilling, but it does ban large leaf/brush burns, and of course garbage. Does CA do the same?


NYWB,
what is the threshold?
do they allow outdoor firepits?
sorry, i am not familiar with california code.
~bodhi
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Re: woodburner/nonwoodburner interface

Postby NY Woodburner » Sun Mar 18, 2007 11:27 am

bodhi wrote:
NY Woodburner wrote:Our area also imposes outdoor burn bans when towns reach a threshold population. It does not ban grilling, but it does ban large leaf/brush burns, and of course garbage. Does CA do the same?


NYWB,
what is the threshold?
do they allow outdoor firepits?
sorry, i am not familiar with california code.
~bodhi


I seem to think it is a number on the order of 10,000 people within a township. In general, it seems that townships with one-acre or less zoning that are fairly well built out with houses have the ban; on the other end, townships with 5 acre+ zoning are generally not impacted.

I am not sure about the firepits, but given how many I see for sale at HD/Lowes, I can't imagine those are affected. Personally, I don't see a lot of sense behind the outdoor fireplaces, but I can't say I've tried one. I work way too hard cutting/splitting my wood to waste it warming the outdoors :-)
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Postby MSG » Sun Mar 18, 2007 2:18 pm

unfortunaly, outdoor kitchens and patio living is one of the largest growing sectors in the hearth industry. I think this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. Fortunatly, in our area people are opting for gas firpits instead of wood ones. Its govenrned here for 2 reasons, particulates and firedanger.
If i had a neighbor that was burning non stop in a open firepit or fireplace, and it was affecting my home and family, i would first try to maintain a freindly relationship, and made sure that i wasnt percieved as a enviro extremist. Invite them into your home so they can see what your dealing with. That might be done by invation and a small gift (nice bottle of wine or something) and note explaining the problem, and to try to solve it diplomaticly.
The problem in, if you get into a pissing contest over something that leagle, the are going to do it more to annoy you.
Untill the rest of the country gets on the EPA bandwagon, there is going to be some folks out there that are going to have to deal with neighbors burning wood in the back yard.
15 years ago the you could not see denver from boulder. Now you can see the intire city from 40 miles away. This state has came along way cleaning up the air. That was done by banning outdoor burning without a permit, only allowing epa stoves to be installed, banning OWB's and banning coal as a fuel source.
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Re: woodburner/nonwoodburner interface

Postby xarmynsdq » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:19 pm

bodhi wrote:the problems have ranged from not being able to open windows or be outside in the yard to the house filling up with smoke and having to spend the night in a hotel, or even selling the house.
~bodhi
p.s. lets save the pollution problems associated with gas and electric for another topic.


just curious, if its cold enough for somone to be operating a woodstove, why would you open your windows?
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Re: woodburner/nonwoodburner interface

Postby bodhi » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:15 pm

xarmynsdq wrote:just curious, if its cold enough for somone to be operating a woodstove, why would you open your windows?


many people sleep with the window open a crack for fresh air. (even in winter)
in fall, spring and summer the use of backyard fire pits has made it impossible for some neighbors to open the windows or be in the yard.
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