Goodbye, summer and hello, fall; shorter days and cooler temperatures are on the horizon.
Those seasonal changes signal that it’s time to ready your wood stove for a long fall and winter of warming fires. Modern EPA-certified wood stoves are more efficient at emitting heat, and pollute less, than their counterparts built prior to 1995. But failing to take care of a wood stove will reduce its efficiency and its fires won’t keep you and your family as warm.
To keep your home cozy, do some “fall cleaning” to ensure your wood stove performs safely and properly throughout the cold-weather months. Here’s a refresher on how to properly clean and maintain your wood stove.
Autumn prep: Check the flue, firewood, and more
Fires burn more efficiently and cleanly in an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace. New wood stoves burn hotter fires and require less firewood to generate the heat you need, while producing less smoke than non-EPA-certified wood stoves or fireplaces. But to get that performance, you should clean your woodstove after every use, and give it a good inspection before you fire it up for the first time of the season.
Check the wood stove to ensure it’s in good condition and free of hazards like broken firebricks. Also check that the venting system is in good working order, and the chimney or flue has no holes, cracks, or debris. Inspect that the flue’s damper opens and closes properly.
The chimney may need to be cleaned of creosote deposits. These deposits, which can accumulate over the course of a season, should be cleaned so fires burn safely and at hot temperatures. Because creosote is combustible, wood stove owners should get their chimney cleaned regularly.
A wood stove should never release smoke into the home – that could be a sign that there is a problem with the wood stove, or the wood is too wet to burn. Speaking of the wood you burn, it is best to use seasoned wood that has spent months drying; hardwoods like ironwood, rock elm, hickey, and oak have high energy per cord, meaning they’ll burn longer. Finally, never burn garbage, plastics, treated or painted wood, or cleaning agents in your wood stove.