Getting a long and efficient life out of your wood stove and keeping your home and family safe when using it are important to every wood stove owner. Here are five operational and safety tips to follow for the best experience with your wood stove.
The wood your burn in your stove
Modern heating stoves are high heat producers and are designed to burn more efficiently than wood stoves of the past. You can contribute to your stove’s efficiency and heat generation by burning the right wood in the right way.
First, use only seasoned (dry) wood for your fire. Damp wood is harder to get started and keep burning, and it produces far more smoke than dry wood.
Hardwoods such as elm, maple, beech, oak and ash will produce longer, hotter fires than fir, red pine, cedar and other softwoods. Choose your firewood based on the length and intensity of the fire you want. Remember that because of their density, hardwoods take longer to dry, so keep that in mind when purchasing or chopping your wood.
Wood stove maintenance
For safety reasons, it’s important to clean out your wood stove’s firebox periodically. You’ll want to remove ashes and wood chips, then use a wire brush or similar apparatus to scrape soot and creosote from the stove’s inner surfaces. Excess creosote inside your stove can become a fire hazard, so keep it clean.
Cleaning the vent pipe
More of a concern than built-up creosote inside your stove is the creosote that builds up inside the vent pipe, which you can’t see. Creosote forms when smoke is burned and can be flakey, sticky or hard within your flue pipe.WFD
The best way to deal with cleaning your stove’s vent system is to let a professional do it. Certified chimney sweeps have the tools and expertise to safely remove creosote, soot and other debris from stove pipes. They also can perform system-wide inspections to check for structural damage, venting/drafting issues and worn components. Chimney sweeps are best known for cleaning fireplace chimneys, but they also service vent systems for all supplemental heating appliances.
How not to start a fire
Using non-approved items to get your fire started can result in dangerous stove operation and also can void certain free-standing heating stove warranties. Never use these items to start a fire:
- Accelerants such as gasoline, charcoal starter or lighter fluid
- Painted or treated wood
- Clothing or any kind of fabric
- Christmas trees
- Road flares
- Household trash
Smoke and CO monitors
Whenever you have a stove or fireplace in your home, you also should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide (CO) monitors. You already know the reason for smoke detectors. CO monitors check the air for carbon monoxide, which is critically important because this gas is invisible, odorless and potentially fatal to humans and pets. Set up your smoke and CO detectors according to manufacturer’s instructions or the advice of your chimney sweep.
These are five important tips for running your wood-burning heating stove safely and efficiently. When you schedule regular cleaning and inspections from a CSIA-certified chimney sweep, you’ll learn a lot more about getting the most out of your wood stove and keeping your home and family safe.
If it’s time for a good cleaning and stove inspection, High’s Chimney Service of Gaithersburg, MD, is ready to get to work. We offer the very best in chimney sweep services, stove/fireplace maintenance and all levels of stove and fireplace repair. Call us today at (301) 519-3500.
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