It is important to take care of your wood burning stove so that it functions at its best. Not only will this make it more efficient but it will also mean that it is safer to use. You can employ a professional installer to carry out regular maintenance checks on your stove. However, if you prefer to maintain it yourself, the following maintenance tips should give you an idea of what to look out for.
Firstly, the chimney should be swept at least once a year, preferably twice, to prevent the build up of tar deposits, which can be a fire hazard. Secondly, the chimney itself needs to be fit for use. There could be gaps in the mortar of brick chimneys, and if it leaks smoke or gas through the cracks, then it is unsuitable. You can check for leaks by using smoke pellets.
The chimney should also be adequately lined. If there isn’t a flue then you should have a liner installed, which is made from either corrugated stainless steel or pumice. To enhance the performance of the chimney the gap between the chimney and the flue should be insulated using materials such as leca. A properly insulated chimney will help the escaping gases to stay hot until they are discharged from the chimney, therefore preventing tar from forming.
When inspecting your chimney you need to look out for tar deposits. These are flammable and must therefore be removed to prevent chimney fires. To avoid a build up of tar in the future you should use only woods that have been seasoned (dried out) for at least a year. Also, avoid allowing the fire to smoulder.
Lastly, you need to check to make sure that the rain cowl or rain cap is not broken as this protects the chimney from rain, debris and birds.
The flue also needs to be checked for tar deposits and checked to make sure that there are no gaps between the various pieces of flue pipe. This includes the joint from the stove outlet pipe to the single skin flue and the joint from the single skin flue to the double skin flue. N.B. The single skin flue is generally the part of the flue pipe that is indoors whereas the double skin flue extends through the walls or ceiling and up the chimney.
The door to a wood burning stove should be airtight for optimum performance. If the door is leaking smoke or seems loose then it is possible to replace the door seals or gaskets. Gaskets vary in thickness depending on the model of wood burning stove so it is best to check with a stove supplier or the stove manufacturer to find out what size is used for your particular model. The new gasket will need to be cemented in place using cement suitable for wood burners. There will be a groove around the door into which the gasket will sit.
The glass in the door can also be replaced if it becomes damaged. As stove glass is specially made to suit wood burning stoves it shouldn’t get damaged through fire as it will be able to withstand heat, but it may get broken in some other way. Specialist stove suppliers sometimes have the glass in stock, but if not, it can be cut and shaped to fit the door of the stove. It must be sealed in to ensure that it is airtight, usually using a gasket.
If the whole of the door is badly damaged then you could have it completely replaced.
Paint and Enamel
High temperature paint is widely available and can be used to touch up any marks on a stove. First of all, be sure to cover any areas that you do not wish to paint, such as the stove glass. If you have a factory enamelled stove, which has become damaged, you can touch it up with an enamel filler kit. You can buy these from specialist stove supply companies.
Firebricks sometimes become cracked or damaged, but these can be replaced. However, it is important to make sure that they are replaced with the same type of brick otherwise the stove will not operate as efficiently.
A fire grate lies at the bottom of the firebox and the fire is built on top of it using kindle, wood logs and rolls of paper to ignite. Because of the high temperatures that a grate has to withstand, it can become worn out over time. When replacing the grate make sure that the new grate fits properly in your wood burning stove.
Like grates, baffles also have to withstand high temperatures. This is because they are situated inside the firebox area of the stove and are subjected to flames from the fire. They are usually made from steel, cast iron or ceramic fibre board and replacements can be obtained from stove supply companies if they cease to operate efficiently over time. They should be replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
When replacing or repairing any parts on your wood burning stove it is essential to wait until the stove has fully cooled down. By carrying out regular checks on your wood burning stove you can ensure that you get the best out of it for many years to come. Not only is it an environmentally friendly source of heating but it will keep you warm and cosy throughout the winter months.