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Caring for Your Wood Burning Stove
In recent years, wood stoves have acquired something of a cult following. And for good reason. As any wood-burning devotee will attest, nothing beats the atmospheric charm of a rustic fire that burns beautifully in the heart of your home on a cold, dark winter night.
Owners of these fine burners will often tell you it was love at first sight.
On the other hand, wood burners have gained a somewhat unwarranted reputation for their high maintenance.
Whether you’ve recently had a new wood stove installed or you’ve inherited one with new ownership, it’s important to ensure the safety of your appliance and keep it as sparkling clean as the first time you lovingly saw it.
A number of ground rules apply, although you should always do so to consult the instructions in the manufacturers guide.
A well-maintained stove will serve you well for years to come. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your stove will prolong its life, keep it in good working order and make 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 optimal heat diffusion, it is always advisable to use seasoned wood. If you want to season the wood yourself, you should store it in a dry place for at least one year. You can even purchase a “moisture meter” to determine the level of water content in your logs.
Your stove should be cleaned and inspected Before long periods of use. If you have recently installed a stove, regular inspections will ensure that your stove is in perfect working order. Signs of damage such as cracks or leaks must be repaired immediately. Over time, depending on your use, you should be able to judge for yourself when to call in a professional. Remember that cleaning the flue is a basic requirement for safety. 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 air washer so that the glass is automatically kept in a sparkling clean condition. After all, you want to be able to see fire! If your stove doesn’t have an integrated air cleaning system, you can apply a specially formulated cleaning fluid. Make sure you clean the glass little and often to avoid soot and grease buildup.
Ash should be cleaned periodically from the wood stove. You should also clean the interior surfaces of your stove regularly with a wire brush or scraper. Make sure the stove is cool before attempting to clean it. Watch out for potential problems such as holes in the ash pan, cracks or rust. Occasionally the fire bricks or rope gasket may need to be replaced, but these should be minor costs compared to the overall outlay and running of the burner.
Take care of your burner, but above all, take care of YOU
For your own safety, you should always have a fire extinguisher ready to use in a convenient location in your home. Check regularly to make sure it’s in good working order, and make sure everyone in your family knows how to operate it if the need arises.
It is also essential that smoke alarms are placed strategically around the home and tested regularly.
Stuck fireplaces pose a serious safety risk because, on rare occasions, they can lead to chimney fires or the dreaded carbon monoxide poisoning. Paying a licensed chimney sweep to maintain your burner is a small but essential investment.
If however you are not comfortable with or have the time to look after your stove you can always try contacting your woodburning stove installer who may be able to provide assistance services or you know someone who will.
Remember: stay safe, stay warm.
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