Wood Burning Stove Tips
Here are some wood burning stove tips to help you get the most out of your wood stove. These tips center on improving efficiency and effectiveness.
In any case, be sure to familiarize yourself with what the manufacturer says about operation of your stove, and follow those operating instructions first. Use these tips as they apply and only if your owners manual is silent on the topic.
For warmth, pleasure and safety, here are my suggestions.
Burn Dry and Seasoned Wood
Use well seasoned wood that is dry. This means cutting and splitting your wood and letting the air circulate around it in a sheltered environment for at least 6 months, but it's better if you can let it sit for a year.
One easy way to do this is to always be a year or more ahead of yourself in terms of cutting, splitting, stacking and storing your firewood. Another easy way to do this is to use scrap wood. Whether from a construction or demolition sites, or just sitting around somewhere in a yard or shop, this wood is generally well seasoned.
One of the frequently overlooked wood burning stove tips is to make your fires hot. Taking care not to over-fire your stove, you should make all of your burns fast and hot, not slow and warm. Hot fires promote complete combustion, maximum heat release, and minimal accumulation of creosote in the flue.
Hot burns require adequate air intake to allow for complete combustion. They also require adequate room around the wood inside your stove to allow for complete combustion, so don't pack the stove full.
Another way to promote a hot burn is to have wood that is split into relatively small pieces for the size of your stove. Smaller pieces have more surface area and that will create a hot fire.
Use a Fan
A wood stove with a fan is a much more effective heat producing appliance than one without. A carefully placed fan can extract heat from the surfaces of your wood burning stove and distribute it to other parts of the room.
Take care when blowing air on the stove to avoid blowing air into the stove as this can over-fire the appliance and it can also cause combustion air to be forced back out of the stove and into your living space, especially if your stove takes air from inside your house.
Direct fans on portions of the stove that don't have air inlets or openings that lead into the combustion chamber. Use low to moderate fan speeds and create flow across large flat surface areas of the stove (not the stove pipe) so heat can be extracted and moved away from the stove.
Burn Outside Air
If you burn outside air, you aren't robbing warm air from the house to operate the stove, and you're not sucking in cold outside air into the house to make up for what you're burning in the stove.
Open Access Doors Carefully
Open access doors to the firebox only when safe to do so, and do so slowly to avoid sucking combustion by-products into your living space. Whether it's wood ash leaning up against an access door or air swirling around inside the firebox, opening an access door carelessly can encourage ash to come out where you don't want it.
Take Care with Glass
Portions of your stove made from glass require special care. Some of the glass may be tempered, and some of it may be "ceramic glass." Tempered glass will look green on the edges and can never be placed next to the fire. "Ceramic glass" will look salmon colored on its edges and can be used next to the fire.
In any event, be careful not to bump glass surfaces or allow liquids to be splashed on the surfaces when they're hot. If the glass cools quickly and shatters, you might find yourself with an unprotected opening in your stove, and an unexpected expense.
Close the Air Intakes
My list of wood burning stove tips wouldn't be complete without mention of what you might do when you're not burning wood in the stove. When you're finished with a burn, and you've extracted just about all the heat from the fire that's possible, close down the air intakes so you're not sending warm air up the flue and you're not encouraging cold air to come in from outside.
Here are additional wood burning stove tips that focus on wood stove safety and cleaning out wood ashes. My collection of wood burning stove tips do not address selection, placement or installation of stoves, just operation. If you're looking for help in these areas, please consult a professional installer.
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