Residential Wood Burning
Outdoor Wood Boilers
What are outdoor wood boilers (OWBs)?
OWBs (also known as outdoor hydronic heaters) are fuel burning devices (1) designed to burn wood or other fuels; (2) that the manufacturer specifies for outdoor installation or installation in structures not normally occupied by humans; and (3) that are used to heat building space and/or water through the distribution, typically through pipes, of a gas or liquid (e.g., water or water/antifreeze mixture) heated in the device. A typical unit looks like a small metal storage shed with a stack. OWBs can also be used to heat swimming pools, greenhouses, milk rooms, etc.
What are the health effects due to inhalation of smoke from an OWB?
Wood smoke contains fine particulate matter (PM) which can cause short-term effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine PM also can affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma, allergies and heart disease. Long term exposure to fine PM may increase the risk from chronic bronchitis, reduce lung function and increase mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. In addition, wood smoke contains known human carcinogens including benzene, formaldehyde, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Check the NYS Department of Health links under "Links Leaving DEC's Website" for more information regarding health impacts from the inhalation of wood smoke.
How are OWBs regulated in New York?
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted 6 NYCRR Part 247 (link leaves DEC's website) on December 29, 2010.
- There are numerous municipal laws enacted across the state regarding OWBs. Check with your town clerk to see if such a law was enacted in your town. Laws enacted by local governments may be stricter than Part 247.
Who must comply with Part 247?
Requirements for OWB Distributors (those who sell OWBs)
Indoor Wood Stoves
New indoor wood stoves are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) through a New Source Performance Standard (40 CFR 60, Subpart AAA). For more information, visit the USEPA's Wood Heater Compliance Monitoring Program site using the link under "Links Leaving DEC's Website."
Fireplaces and Fireplace Inserts
The USEPA has a voluntary program regarding fireplaces and fireplace inserts. For more information, visit the USEPA's Burn Wise - List of Approved Appliances site using the link under "Links Leaving DEC's Website."
More about Residential Wood Burning:
- Are You Being Impacted by a Neighbor's OWB? - conditions that constitute a nuisance under Part 247
- Requirements for OWB Owners - information on approved fuels for OWBs
- Requirements for OWB Manufacturers - Effective April 15, 2011, only certified OWB models may be sold in NYS.
- Requirements for OWB Distributors - guidance on what documentation needs to be submitted to the Department after a sale or lease of an OWB is completed
- List of NYS Certified Outdoor Wood Boiler Models - Effective April 15, 2011, all OWBs sold in NYS must be certified for sale by the NYSDEC.
- Partial Thermal Storage Test Method - Content of a letter and associated attachment received by DEC from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, dated February 15, 2013.