Overview – The Wood Stove Rule
As of October 1, 2015, it is illegal to purchase or operate an uncertified wood stove in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone. The new rule requires any wood stove that is not EPA certified to be removed and recycled, or rendered inoperable.
The Wood Stove Rule:
- Only applies to uncertified wood burning stoves in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone (see map below).
- Does not affect an EPA or Oregon certified wood stoves (usually newer than 25 years old).
- Adopted in response to the WA state law providing Puget Sound Clean Air Agency the authority to ban all uncertified wood burning stoves within the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone
- The only exception is if you have an approved exemption for having no other adequate source of heat in your home. This exemption has very specific requirements and limitations. If you think you may qualify, please apply here.
Even with our air quality improving, we need this rule to meet federal requirements. You can learn more about the effects of fine particle pollution here.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I tell if my wood stove is EPA certified or not?
A certified wood stove/fireplace insert would likely have a label on the back or side indicating it complies with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission standards. Here is a sample label.
Here are a few other ways to help determine whether you have a certified or uncertified device:
- If it has solid metal door(s) on the front, then it is uncertified.
- If it has two glass doors, then it is likely uncertified.
- If it has one glass door, then more information is needed.
- If there is a brand/manufacturer name and model type on the device, look for it on the list of EPA-certified wood stoves (PDF). Otherwise, you will need to take a picture of it and take it to your nearest hearth dealer for help in identifying.
- Look for an EPA label on the back or side. If you have a fireplace insert, you may need to remove the decorative facing (surround) to be able to see the manufacturer's label.
- Consult your owner's manual
- "UL Tested" or "UL Approved" is not the same as EPA certified.
If you are still not sure your device is uncertified, you can take a picture of the front and back of your stove, along with the manufacturer's label, and take it to your nearest hearth dealer. You may also email us at email@example.com with the photos and any identifying information you have about your stove.
When did the wood stove rule go into effect?
October 1, 2015. It is now illegal to purchase or operate an uncertified wood stove in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone. All wood stoves not EPA certified must be removed and recycled or rendered inoperable, except for in a small number of homes that qualify for and have an approved exemption because they do not have another adequate source of heat.
Where does the wood stove stove rule apply?
The rule applies only in the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone. You can enter your address here to see if you live within the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone:
I would like to replace my old, uncertified wood stove, but I need help with the cost.
You can sign up to take advantage of our Wood Stove Program and receive an incentive to help you recycle or replace your old device with cleaner heat.
What does "render inoperable" mean?
Hearth industry (wood stove) contractors can help you by either breaking off doors of a stove so they can't be reattached or by punching holes in the firebox so the stove can't be used again.
What do I do with an uncertified stove?
It's up to you. You can render the stove inoperable and take the stove to a local scrapyard. You can also sign up to take advantage of our Wood Stove Program and receive an incentive to help you recycle or replace your old device with cleaner heat.
Can I buy, sell, exchange, give-away, or reinstall my uncertified device?
No, it's illegal to buy, sell, exchange, give-away, or reinstall an uncertified wood burning device. Wood stoves, fireplaces, and other solid fuel burning devices sold in Washington must be certified to meet both EPA and Washington state emission standards.
See the following link for emission standards for various wood burning devices:
Click to learn more about the laws on wood burning devices: Regulation I, Section 13.03 (PDF), Washington Administrative Code: 173-433.
What about my fireplace? Is that affected by the rule?
No. This rule pertains to uncertified wood burning stoves and inserts (which is basically a wood stove made to be inserted into a fireplace opening). You are still prohibited from burning in your fireplace during an air quality burn ban.
I have an old stove, but it is the only source of heat I have in my house.
In some cases, using a wood burning device may be the only way to adequately heat your home. If you believe this is true for your home, you may apply for “no other adequate source of heat” exemption through the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. You must apply and be approved for this exemption before using your wood burning device. To apply, please download the application or call (206) 716-1195, option 1, and request one to be sent to you.
We already have burn bans. Why is the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency doing this?
Uncertified wood burning stoves can produce 50-60% more pollution than certified stoves. Although our air quality is improving, we need this rule to solve the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone's fine particle air pollution problem for good. This zone is the only area in the state that regularly exceeds the federal health-based standards for fine particle pollution. Wintertime smoke from old wood stoves is driving us over the federal standard. Reducing fine particle levels and maintaining those reductions in the future cannot be achieved without permanently removing those older polluting devices.
How do people know about this rule?
We've been working on getting the word out for the last three years and we'll continue to spread the word about the rule through television, print, online, and outdoor ads, as well as ongoing community outreach. Our website www.airsafepiercecounty.org is the go-to place for all kinds of wood stove and wood smoke information.
Are you going to expand this rule to the rest of the county at some point?
No. The legislature only gave us the authority to do this in the area that was not meeting federal standards and the rest of Pierce County meets those standards. In fact, we helped convince EPA not to include the rest of the county in the area that was designated as being in violation.
How will the Agency enforce this rule?
We will enforce the rule the way we’ve enforced our air quality burn ban and excess smoke rules for years: by looking for smoke. Uncertified wood stoves produce a lot more smoke than a certified stove. If you have illegal smoke, we’ll be checking in with you to find out more about your stove. We are hoping most people take advantage of our funding assistance upfront and remove or replace their older stove. As of October 1, 2015, if we determine that you have an uncertified device, you’ll need to remove and recycle it, or render it inoperable.
Will you ask to enter homes?
No. We do not go into homes. We look for smoke coming from chimneys outdoors.
Where can I find more info about this rule and the state law that authorizes it?
The Washington State legislature has given local air pollution control agencies and the Washington Department of Ecology the authority to prohibit the use of uncertified wood burning devices in an area that is designated as a "nonattainment area" as of January 1, 2015, or if required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This state law referenced above gives the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency the legal authority to prohibit uncertified wood burning devices in the Tacoma-Pierce County Wood Smoke Reduction Zone.
You can see this law in its entirety here:
RCW 70.94.47 - LIMITATIONS ON USE OF SOLID FUEL BURNING DEVICES
(Scroll down to Section 7 of this page for specific language describing the prohibition of uncertified wood burning devices)
You can find the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency's specific regulations pertaining to the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone here:
SECTION 13.07 PROHIBITIONS ON WOOD STOVES THAT ARE NOT CERTIFIED WOOD STOVES
(Scroll down to Section 13.07 to see language specific to Tacoma/Pierce County Wood Smoke Reduction Zone)