Here are some maintenance tips to help reduce your need for wood stove repairs.
Be aware of the fuel limitations of your stove. Most wood stoves are meant to burn wood only, although some stoves are built to burn both wood and coal. Do not burn driftwood, trash, treated wood, artificial logs, or any product containing zinc, sulfur, lead, or plastics. They will damage the catalytic combustor. Trash is dangerous for its potential of starting a chimney fire, and also could contain plastics or other elements which emit harmful gases.
It is best to burn only seasoned wood for maximum heat release, less creosote buildup, and economy. Avoid burning green (unseasoned) wood which may contain up to 50% of its weight in moisture and needs to be burned off before the heat can reach your house.
A stack thermometer installed on the stove flue will give you information on gases leaving the stove. Monitoring their levels is important for efficiency and pollution control. 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit is an optimum range.
Build small, hot fires for maximum burning of volatile gases and for fewer air quality and other safety problems. Your increased effort and attention are well worth the effort.
Keep the stove’s air-intake vents clear by removing excess ashes. This also lowers the level of oxygen required for an efficient fire.
It helps greatly if your house is well insulated, and window and door leaks are corrected with caulking, weather stripping, etc. Observe the amount of smoke coming from your chimney. The less smoke, the cleaner the burning process.
It is strongly recommended to have wood stoves and chimneys inspected at least once each year by a professional-the stove dealer or a chimney sweep. They should check for all signs of deterioration such as cracks, leaks, warping, baffle gaps, and creosote in the chimney.