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Air Quality Program

Outdoor Wood Boilers

What residents of the Municipality of Anchorage should know before they purchase a wood-fired boiler.

With the rising cost of natural gas, heating with wood has become more attractive to Anchorage residents.  Wood stoves are commonly used as a source of heat in many homes, often as a supplement to the natural gas heating system.  In the past ten years, outdoor wood boilers (OWBs), sometimes called wood-fired hydronic heaters, have become an increasingly popular form of space heating, especially in the northeast U.S.  They have also become popular in Fairbanks, where heating costs are much higher than in Anchorage. Many of the communities where OWBs have become popular have experienced serious wood smoke air pollution problems from the boilers especially from those which don’t meet new standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  To help minimize impacts on air quality, the Anchorage Assembly adopted new code requirements regulating all new installations of OWBs in the Municipality of Anchorage. These requirements apply throughout the Municipality, from Portage northward to Eklutna.

New requirements for OWB installations in the Municipality of Anchorage are outlined in Anchorage Municipal Code 15.35.105.  They are summarized below:

  • Beginning July 1, 2009 all OWBs installed in the Municipality must meet EPA Phase 2 standards.  You can find information and a list of OWBs meeting these standards at
  • All OWBs must be installed at least 100 feet away from adjacent dwellings, schools, work places and other habitable structures other than the structure that the OWB is serving. In other words, your OWB has to be at least 100 feet away from your neighbor’s house.  You can, however, locate your OWB less than 100 feet from your own home.
  • Your OWB must be located on your own property and at least 50 feet away from the nearest property line.
  • The stack of your OWB must be higher than the peak of your own home’s roof and higher than neighboring homes and habitable structures within 150 feet.
  • Before installing an OWB you must submit scaled drawings, prepared by a registered professional engineer or land surveyor that show your boiler installation will meet the required 100 foot separation to the nearest habitable dwelling, the 50 foot separation to the nearest property line and that the stack of your boiler will be higher than all habitable structures within 150 feet.  These drawings must be approved by the air pollution control officer at the Municipal Department of Health and Human Services.  Call 343-4200 or e-mail 
  • Only clean, untreated wood may be burned in an OWB.   Burning pressure treated lumber, railroad ties, or wood that has been stained or painted is prohibited.  One of the keys to clean operation of any wood-fired heating device is burning clean and seasoned wood.

                Municipality of Anchorage Wood-fired Boiler Setback Distance Requirements

Outdoor Boiler Diagram

Click here for a printable version of the diagram


Please contact the Municipal Department of Health and Human Services at 343-4200 or e-mail