Understanding the Residential Wood Heater Rules

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What types of wood heaters are covered under the current rule?

The current rules, issued by EPA in 1988, only apply to new catalytic and non-catalytic wood stoves and wood stove inserts. Any wood stove or wood stove insert built after 1988 must meet EPA's mandatory smoke emission limit of 7.5 grams of smoke per hour (g/h) for non-catalytic stoves and 4.1 g/h for catalytic stoves.

You can learn more about wood stoves on EPA's Burn Wise website.

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Which wood heaters are covered by the proposed rule?

The proposed updates would strengthen the emissions standards for new wood stoves, while establishing federal air standards for other new wood heaters, including outdoor and indoor wood-fired boilers (also known as hydronic heaters).

The proposed standards also would set particulate matter (PM) emission limits for newly manufactured adjustable-rate woodstoves, pellet stoves, wood-fired hydronic heaters, forced-air furnaces, masonry wood heaters, and a type of previously unregulated woodstove known as a “single burn rate” stove.

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Are all wood heaters covered by this proposed rule?

The proposed rule would not affect existing woodstoves and other wood-burning heaters currently in use in people’s homes. EPA has a number of tools available to help local governments address existing heaters, including “Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke.” Issued by EPA’s Burn Wise program, this comprehensive document covers local regulations, voluntary programs, funding mechanisms and best burn practices - all of which can help reduce particle pollution from existing wood-burning appliances.

The proposal also would not apply to new or existing heaters that are fueled solely by oil, gas or coal, and it would not apply to outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, pizza ovens or chimineas.

In addition, EPA did not include new indoor fireplaces for regulation in the proposal, based on the agency’s review of data indicating that typical fireplaces are not effective heaters. However, the agency is seeking additional data and comments that could help the agency determine whether standards for new fireplaces would be appropriate in the future. Fireplaces are included in an EPA voluntary program that encourages manufacturers to make cleaner-burning new fireplaces, and retrofits for existing fireplaces, available for consumers.

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