Wood burning stoves are auxiliary home heating devices which require care and attention in their purchase, installation, and maintenance. If you want to keep your wood burning stove in top condition, functioning properly and pro long its life, it is of utmost importance to follow the maintenance and cleaning tips found in the stove's manual.
Here are a few basic tips for wood burning stove maintenance, which will help you keep it running smoothly and keep you warm for many winters to come. Although some wood stoves are designed to burn coal as well, most are intended to burn wood fuel exclusively. Wood fuel does not necessarily mean any kind of wood. It is highly recommended to burn only seasoned wood. This is because unseasoned wood contains high amounts of water which can cause problems with smoking, odour, creosote build-up in the flue system and chimney, and dirty glass as well as dirty fire bricks. The moisture content of firewood should always be below 18% (moisture testers are available to test this water content).
You should never burn treated wood, driftwood, plywood, MDF, chipboard or all non-wood items because they can cause damage to the stove, and release potentially toxic fumes (WoodBurningStoves.com2015). Burning trash in a wood stove is dangerous for its potential to start a chimney fire, and also because the trash could contain plastics or other elements which emit harmful gases.
Wood burning stoves are not as convenient as gas and electric heaters, however, their maintenance does not require much time and effort if you follow the manufacturer's instructions as well as burn seasoned wood only. Wood burning stove maintenance and cleaning mostly consists of regular removal of the ashes, which also boosts the stove's efficiency. Make sure the stove's air-intake vents are clear by removing excess ashes. Stoves require occasional cleaning of the internal surfaces with a wire brush or scraper, and keeping a close eye on potential problems such as holes in the ash pan, cracks, spots of rust on the finish and other unusual signs that may indicate damage.
It is a good idea to observe the amount of smoke coming from your chimney, the less smoke seen, the cleaner the burning process. Always leave your stove to cool completely before you carry out any maintenance or cleaning chores, and make sure that the ash is completely cold before disposing of it.
In addition to keeping your stove clean inside and out, be sure to have it inspected by a licensed professional at least once a year to make sure everything is working perfectly. Any signs of damage such as cracks, leaks and warping should always be repaired immediately. You are also highly recommended to have your chimney cleaned and checked by a chimney sweep at least once a year or more often if you use your wood burning stove on a regular basis.
Poorly maintained or blocked chimneys pose a serious safety risk because they can cause Carbon Monoxide poisoning and chimney fires. Outside the heating season, it is recommended to leave the air inlet or the door of the stove slightly open, in order to prevent condensation build-up in the stove and chimney.
Wood burning stoves will look their best and have a long life if they are well maintained and cleaned regularly. The better you take care of your stove, the better the firing will be, and the happier you will be about your stove.