Having a wood burning fireplace in a home or building is a long-standing tradition.  As a result, many home and business owners desire to have fireplace which burns wood in their environments to provide both warmth in cold months and comforting ambiance. However, in the United States, several local municipalities have specific legal requirements to reduce wood smoke. Before building a fireplace, you should familiarize yourself with wood burning practices in the US, and be sure to know any regulations that apply in your community.

 According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), local jurisdictions set up specific laws governing construction and use of wood burning appliances, such as fireplaces, their local area. Some laws place restrictions on new construction of wood-burning appliances. Other jurisdictions do not inhibit construction of a fireplace, but do limit use if air quality becomes compromised. In those scenarios, a local agency issues an alert to let you know that you should curtail or cease use of your wood burning fireplace until air quality improves.

To help you understand requirements and restrictions on wood burning in the US, the EPA maintains a list of local area and state regulations on this topic. The local ordinances cited range from voluntary programs to reduce use of wood burning appliances to all-out bans of new fireplace construction.  For example, in the Yolo-Solano air quality management district (AQMD), the voluntary “Don’t Light Tonight” program suggests that residents not burn wood in their fireplaces during periods of threatened air quality. In Palo Alto and Santa Clara County California, new wood burning stoves or fireplaces cannot be built within those communities.

In addition to listing certain local regulations, the EPA identifies statewide laws for seven US states which govern wood burning.  Some states have established emission standards for newly installed wood burning appliances. Other states offer tax incentives for homeowners who choose to install a modern fireplace to replace older model, uncertified wood burning stoves. Since provisions for wood burning in the US very widely, you should always consult regulations for your state and local area before building a new fireplace in your business or dwelling.

Although some local and state governments put restrictions on wood burning options, the end goal is not to restrict citizens’ opportunity to enjoy fireplaces. Instead, these regulations aim to reduce health hazards from air pollution by reducing wood smoke in vulnerable areas or during hazardous periods. If you live in an area with restrictions on construction of a new wood burning fireplace, you can look into options for cleaner burning gas fireplaces.  Alternatively, if your area allows new build of wood fireplaces, you should always be attentive to local alerts to ensure you do not use your fireplace during times of compromised air-quality.

Whether you are seeking a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace model, the masonry experts at Mason-Lite have the building materials and professional expertise you need to choose the perfect fireplace. You can enjoy the fireplace of your dreams while meeting guidelines for wood burning in most of the US by choosing on quality masonry or metal fireplace designs from Mason-Lite.