Chesterton Tribune

New IDEM rule forbids summer use of some outdoor wood boilers

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The Indiana Air Pollution Control Board has passed a new rule—to take effect on Wednesday, May 18—regulating the use of outdoor hydronic heaters (OHHs) in the State of Indiana, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) said on Wednesday.

That rule will restrict sales of future heaters to qualified units and places restrictions on existing units close to neighbors’ buildings.

Outdoor hydronic heaters, also known as outdoor wood boilers or outdoor wood furnaces, provide heat and hot water to homes, barns. and small businesses by using wood to heat water.

“Traditionally used in rural or remote areas, OHH units are being installed in more populated areas due to increases in petroleum and electric heating bills,” IDEM said. “The smoke from these units can affect neighbors, particularly when best management practices are not being used by the operators.”

The rulemaking process began over six years ago after IDEM received an increasing number of complaints regarding OHH units. Development of the rule was delayed several times as state and federal regulators researched the impact of OHH emissions on human health and the environment.

Highlights of the new rule:

•All units are only allowed to burn clean wood or other approved fuels.

•Newly-installed OHH units must pass the U.S. EPA’s Phase II emission standards.

•Non-Phase II units within 150 feet of occupied buildings on neighboring property must have stack heights that are five feet above the peak of the occupied building (stack height limited to 22 feet).

•Non-Phase II units within 300 feet of occupied buildings on neighboring property are not allowed to operate from May 1 through September 30.

IDEM created a fact sheet about the rule. The fact sheet and other information about OHHs can be found at

The agency is reaching out to owners of OHH units affected by the rule.

“A large number of comments from the public and regulated community also affected the rulemaking,” IDEM said. “The agency received comments from over 1,000 citizens and businesses while considering the rule. Each type of comment required a response before rulemaking could proceed.”

“We received more comments on this rule than we have on any other single topic,” IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly said. “Getting the public to participate throughout the process helped IDEM and the air board understand how Hoosiers and our environment are being affected by these heaters. The comments helped IDEM write a rule that would protect human health and the environment while addressing public concerns. We also made a conscious effort to not put undue restrictions on the people who operate their heaters in a responsible manner.”



Posted 5/12/2011