Wood Burning Appliances

Burning of wood is a significant source of fine particulate pollution. Scientific studies indicate that where particular pollution levels are high, respiratory illness and death rates increase. The lifetime cancer risk from wood stove emissions may be 12 times greater than exposure to an equal amount of cigarette smoke. Wood smoke is released both into the homes where stoves or fireplaces are used and in nearby homes.

What limitations are there on installation of new wood-burning fireplaces or wood stoves?

New wood-burning fireplaces are no longer allowed in San Rafael. Fireplaces with EPA Certified wood-burning fireplace inserts are allowed, as well as fireplaces with permanently installed gas log units (basic gas log lighters are not allowed). Conversion of a gas fireplace to a wood-burning fireplace is prohibited.

New wood stoves must also be EPA Certified units. Check out this list of certified wood stove and fireplace inserts! Certified wood stoves have an affixed EPA label on the back.

When must existing non-EPA phase II-certified wood stoves be removed?

When major remodeling is being done to a structure (defined as an addition, alteration or remodeling which exceeds 50% of the floor area of the existing structure) and an existing non-EPA Certified wood stove exists in a room being remodeled or enlarged, that nonconforming wood stove must be removed and/or replaced with an EPA Certified wood stove.

Are there exemptions to these regulations?

Yes! The following types of wood-burning appliances are not restricted by this ordinance:

  • outdoor barbecues
  • outdoor fireplaces
  • gas and pellet fueled appliances
  • wood-burning appliances specifically designed for cooking, and
  • wood-burning fireplaces legally installed prior to August 17, 2007.

Are there financial incentives available for removal of non-EPA certified wood stoves, fireplaces and fireplace inserts?

Yes! The County of Marin currently offers rebates of $250 for removal of non-EPA Certified wood stoves, fireplaces and inserts which are disposed of at an approved recycling facility. County rebate application forms are available at the San Rafael Community Development Department at City Hall (1400 Fifth Avenue) and at the Marin County Community Development Agency at Civic Center (3500 Civic Center Drive, Room 308). The Bay Area Air Quality Management District also has a rebate program.

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