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Wood Stoves

Wood Stoves

Fireplaces and wood stoves are cozy and comforting but they can cause serious air pollution problems if they aren't used efficiently. In our north county areas, higher levels of particulates (small airborne particles like soot) are often measured during the months of December to March when residential wood burning is common. Smoke from woodstoves and fireplaces contain many different air pollutants, including particulate matter (fine solid or liquid particles), carbon monoxide, and organic gases, which can be produced at unhealthy levels both inside and outside of our homes. Studies show that these pollutants can cause respiratory problems, cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also contribute to reduced visibility in our atmosphere, and harm soil, agricultural crops and other vegetation.

For tips on how to burn cleaner, read our Woodburning Tips for Clean Fireplace and Wood Stove Burning.

For more information visit the wood stove pages on the EPA and CARB web pages and checkout the California Air Resources Board Handbook.

The District Rule

The Residential Wood Combustion Rule (Rule 504) was adopted by the APCD Board in 1993 to reduce emissions from incomplete combustion of wood in residential wood stoves and fireplaces throughout the county.  The requirements of the rule are as follows:

  • Applies to any person in SLO County who owns, operates, installs, builds, inspects, sells or offers for sale a wood burning device for any dwelling unit. 

  • Only District approved devices are allowed in new or existing/remodeled dwelling units. 

  • Woodburning devices classified as antique or having historical significance, woodburning cookstoves, furnaces and boilers are exempt from the rule.

  • Woodburning devices in existing homes are not affected by the rule, and there are no conditions placed on continued use of those devices upon the sale of an existing home.

  • Used woodburning devices which do not meet the established emission limits may not be resold within the county.

  • Retailers will be required to distribute literature containing clean burning tips and other relevant information with each sale of a woodburning device.

  • A voluntary curtailment program may be implemented by the District in which residents are asked not to burn on days where pollution levels are predicted to be high. Residents with District approved devices will be exempt from this program.

Contact us for more information on the local San Luis Obispo County woodstove requirements. Contact your local woodstove vendor for more information on available devices.