Wood-burning stoves have acquired something of a cult following in recent years. And for good reason. As any wood-burning devotee will testify, nothing beats the atmospheric allure of a rustic fire blazing beautifully at the heart of your home on a cold, dark winter night.
Owners of these handsome burners will often tell you that it was love at first sight.
On the other hand, wood-burners have earned a somewhat unjustified reputation for being high-maintenance.
Whether you’ve recently installed a new wood-burning stove or you’ve inherited one with a new property, it’s important to ensure the safety of your appliance and to keep it looking as immaculately clean as the first time you lovingly beheld it.
A basic set of rules apply – although you should always consult the instructions laid out in your manufacturers’ guide.
A well-cared-for stove will serve you well for years to come. Cleaning and maintaining your stove regularly will extend its lifetime, keeping it in good working condition and making it more efficient and economical to run.
To burn or not to burn?
That is indeed the question when choosing the type of wood suitable for your stove. Always remember: the drier, the better. To ensure optimum heat release, it’s always best to use seasoned wood. If you want to season the wood yourself, you should store it in a dry place for at least a year.
You can even purchase a ‘moisture-meter’ to determine the level of water content in your logs.
Maintaining your stove
Your stove should be cleaned and inspected before extensive periods of use. If you have recently installed a stove, regular inspections will ensure your stove is in perfect working order. Signs of damage such as cracks or leaking should be repaired immediately. Over time, depending on use, you should be able to gauge for yourself when to call in a professional. Remember that cleaning out your chimney is a basic safety requirement. As a rule, the flue should be swept by a professional at least once a year.
Clean as new
Modern stoves will most likely contain an airwash system so that glass is automatically kept in a clean and sparkling condition. After all, you want to be able to see the fire! If your stove does not have an inbuilt airwash, you can apply a specially-formulated cleaning liquid. Make sure you clean the glass little and often to prevent the build-up of soot and grease.
Ash should be cleaned out periodically from your wood stove. You should also undertake regular cleaning of your stove’s internal surfaces with a wire brush or scraper. Make sure your stove is cool before you attempt to clean it. Look out for potential problems such as holes in the ash pan, cracks, or rust.
Occasionally you may need to replace the firebricks or rope-seal, but these should be minor costs relative to the overall outlay and operation of your burner.
Look after your burner, but most importantly, look after YOU
For your own safety, you should always have a fire extinguisher ready for use in a convenient location in your house. Check regularly to ensure it is in good working order and make sure all members of your household know how to operate it should the need arise.
It is also essential that smoke detectors are strategically placed around your home and tested regularly.
Blocked chimneys pose a serious safety risk because, on rare occasions, they can lead to chimney fires or dreaded carbon monoxide poisoning. Paying for a licensed chimney sweep to service your burner is a small but essential investment.
If however you’re not comfortable or have the time to look after your stove, you can always try contacting your Wood Burning Stove Installer who may provide after care services, or know somebody who will.
Remember: be safe, be warm.