Outdoor boiler units that burn wood and heat homes and hot water have become more popular in recent years and are also generating some controversy. Linn County is looking at an ordinance putting stricter regulations on the units over environmental and neighborhood concerns about their smoke.

Glen Tiedeman of Swisher sells the burners that he says can be fitted to work with about any current heating system. He says they can tell by the interest in the boilers whether fuel prices are up, and he says some people are just tired of the fluctuation in heating costs and buy a boiler as an alternative.

Tiedeman says his units have been selling for 25 years and it wasn’t until just recently that people started expressing concerns.Tiedeman says his units have a secondary burner that tumble the exhaust and burns it over and over until it is light enough to get out of the chimney. He says they were below E.P.A. standards, but now it seems like "in the middle of the game, the rules are getting changed."

Tiedeman says the boilers should not be a problem if people burn dry wood as directed. Tiedeman says if people are burning things they shouldn’t be burning like shingles, tires or carpet and other garbage, then they should be fined. But he says people who’re burning what they should be burning should be left alone. Tiedeman says people should be sure their chimneys are high enough to not cause problems with the neighbors, and should work to get along.

He says it has not been a problem for years, but if you have a couple of neighbors who didn’t get along in the first place, and then a wood-burning boiler is involved, then it becomes an issue and everyone gets mixed up in it.

 Tiedeman says the outdoor units sell from $6,000 to over $20,000, depending on how they will be used. The Linn County Supervisors will have the first reading of the proposed ordinance on Wednesday (August 26th).