For hundreds of years, the wood-burning stove has been the source of heat and cooking for millions of homes. While more contemporary options have become commonplace, those who enjoy the crackling wood and pleasant smell of a wood-burning stove take pride in their mode of heat. Much like any other appliance, a wood-burning stove must be cared for to prolong its life and enhance its operation.
The following tips and techniques are designed to enhance the efficiency and safety of the stove while simultaneously prolonging its lifespan.
Tip #1 – Use the Best Firewood
Not all wood is created equal. While the wood you use for an outdoor fire pit is one thing, you must be selective when choosing wood for your stove. The best firewood contains anywhere from 15 to 20 per cent moisture and is small enough to properly fit in your stove. TIP: Visit your local lumber yard or home improvement store for some FREE, perfectly seasoned and sized wood.
Tip #2 – Don’t Go Overboard With the Wood
Woodstove experts agree, adding too many wood logs destroys overall combustion and leads to a smaller, cooler fire. By stuffing the stove with firewood, you effectively remove air needed for the ideal combustion rate. The perfect amount of wood fills the stove without blocking the air inlet. It’s best to refuel the stove more often rather than overload the stove and reduce its efficiency while increasing its smoke output.
Tip #3 – Keep Your Wood Happy and Dry
While you may have purchased properly dried wood, if improperly stored, moisture can be injected into the wood. Do not store wood under a tightly closed tarp or laid about your hard. The best way to keep your wood dry is to store it off the ground and shield it with a roof-like structure to protect against rain and snow. When stacking wood, do not tightly pack wood together. In order to sustain its optimum dryness level, the wood must have access to free-flowing air. Do not store an excess amount of wood in your home living areas. Only store wood for immediate use in your home.
Tip #4 – Properly Burn the Fire
Running a fire in a wood stove is much different from a campfire. Above all, never allow smouldering, slow fires to bloom. These fires enhance creosote development, which becomes a serious fire hazard. On the other hand, avoid roaring fires. Large fires produce too much direct heat, which may damage the chimney and stove while also wasting wood as roaring fires send its heat directly up the chimney rather than throughout your home and on the stove.
The best fires are those that produce moderately-sized flames and practically no smoke within the stove firebox. The stove thermometer should read between 250 and 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintain this temperature range by monitoring wood amount and airflow.
Tip #5 – Annual Cleaning
All wood stove experts agree the entire system should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year, maybe twice for heavy-use stoves. A properly maintained and cleaned stove is more efficient and significantly safer than a neglected system. Over time, especially if high moisture wood or improper burning techniques are used, a highly flammable substance known as creosote builds up along the chimney. If left unchecked, this deposit grows and increases the chance of a house fire. Therefore, have the entire stove system professionally cleaned before the fall and winter months.
Tip #6 – Glass Cleaning
Don’t bother with the expensive glass cleaner you can buy for cleaning the inside of the stove’s glass panels. Instead, tear off a bit of newspaper, add a little spit, then dab it in the ash-tray. Now use this to clean the inside of the glass. The combination of the moisture and the ash creates a very effective, abrasive cleaner that is better than anything you can buy. Seriously, give it a try if you haven’t!
Tip #7 & 8 – Bonus Tips
– Don’t waste further energy making your tea/coffee If you are going to use a wood-burning stove to heat your home, make sure you also utilize the stove for boiling the kettle (and cooking on). If you drink as much tea and coffee as me, that kettle is on and off all day, using up electricity and costing you money. Get a cheap stovetop kettle and make your brews on the stove. You’ll be surprised how much money you save over the year…
– Get yourself a stovetop fan (See the photo) These little fans generate their own power from the heat of the stove. Basically, you buy it, pop it on the stove and forget about it. When the stove starts to warm up, the fan slowly starts. The hotter it gets the faster the fan blows. A good quality stovetop fan can save money by increasing efficiency by 10-15%. They also help to distribute the heat into the room much quicker as well.