Tips for keeping your wood stove in top condition and avoiding dangerous chimney fires
If you’re like most people with wood-burning stoves, you’re probably anticipating the kind of warmth and comfort that only real wood can create on cold winter nights. A couple simple steps can help to ensure your stove operates safely and at maximum efficiency: periodically inspecting it, and cleaning the chimney at least annually.
Inspect your stove
Give your stove a close look before the real cold weather moves in, and check it again periodically during the winter. Look for these things:
- Make sure nothing flammable is near the stove. This is a basic safety measure that can’t be ignored.
- Inspect the door gaskets. The seal should be so tight that a piece of paper or a dollar bill inserted between the door and the stove can’t be pulled out when the door is closed. Test all door sides and if the paper can be removed at any location, replace the gaskets. A tight door seal will help to create good draft and prevent smoke leakage.
- Check to ensure the stove pipe is in good condition, especially where it connects to the chimney. Stove pipes are subjected to high temperatures and if corrosion develops, the pipe should be replaced.
- Inspect the inside of your stove for cracks in the brick or damaged baffles. If anything needs attention, call your stove dealer, or if you order parts yourself, consult your owner’s manual.
Clean your chimney
Annual chimney cleaning is essential for good stove performance and more importantly – your safety. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, in the U.S. each year there are about 27,000 chimney fires.
Don’t be a statistic. Chimneys for wood-burning stoves (and fireplaces) should be inspected at least once a year by a professional stove dealer or a chimney sweep. They will look for cracks, leaks, warping, baffle gaps, creosote buildup or other obstructions that could potentially lead to chimney fires or carbon monoxide intrusions. Consider having this done early in the season, so everything is in top working condition during the winter months.
One last word of advice, when you buy a wood-burning stove, get the most efficient design with the best technology that you can. It will pay for itself over time. An example is Quadra-Fire’s wood-burning stoves that have a four-point, patented Quad Burn combustion system, which burns the wood, gases, smoke and impurities to produce maximum heat, while requiring less trips to the wood pile.
If you have an old wood-burning stove, perhaps it’s time to upgrade? Check out the best of the best here.