If you're interested in purchasing a house with a wood stove, you might have questions about what that means for proper care and maintenance. Wood stoves are a great alternative heat source and can definitely add a cozy vibe to your house during the winter months. However, too many homeowners ignore the upkeep to keep wood-burning stoves safe and efficient.
Here's what you need to know about your new wood heat source.
1. Chimney cleaning is an important annual task.
Burning wood leaves residue behind. You have ashes left in the wood stove, but inside the chimney leading out to the roof, you have a layer of creosote that builds up over time. Creosote is a black, tar-like substance left behind from the gases of wood fires. Creosote is highly flammable.
Cleaning your chimney is important because if too much creosote builds up, the more likely it is to catch fire and cause a chimney fire that spread to the roof and then to the rest of your home. Chimney fires can burn very hot and very quickly, and they can start in a flash, especially if they get a surge of available oxygen (such as when you open the door in the morning to stoke the coals of your fire).
Chimney cleaning greatly reduces the risk to your home and your personal safety.
2. Wood quality matters.
If you want to decrease the amount of residue left behind from burning wood fuel, the quality of the wood you burn matters. If your stove uses logs and not formulated pellets, look for clean, dry wood that has been split so that the interior wood can easily catch flame.
Hardwoods like maple and oak burn long and hot, without much residue. Softwoods, like poplar, burn at a lower temperature and smoke more, especially if they are wet or have a lot of heavy bark. Some softwoods, like spruce, pine, and birch, will burn cleanly if they are nicely dry. You can speed up the drying process by removing heavy or wet bark covering from your logs.
3. Ash removal helps with efficiency.
As your burn wood in your stove, stay on top of emptying the ashes every few days. Ashes contribute to increased burn residue, and they can make it more difficult for you to light a fire, as they can have a smothering effect. To empty ashes, make sure you allow the fire to completely burn out, and use heat-proof gloves to protect your hands in case the ashes are covering some hot coals.
For more information, contact a chimney cleaning service near you.