Owning a wood burning stove is a rustic way to keep your home warm and cozy in the wintertime. Sitting down in front of a fire can create a sense of calm, and nothing beats the crackle of a fire to help one relax. Sure, there can be some inconveniences associated with a wood-burning stove, but we’ve found that most people who own one either love the art of fire building, or the low cost of heating their home.
At one point or another, of course, that wood stove is going to need a good cleaning. Since your stove is mostly used in the wintertime, cleaning it in late autumn or early winter is ideal. How often you clean your wood stove is up to you. You can clean it every week or every month—it all depends on how clean you like your space. However, there are many reasons it’s best to always keep a wood-burning stove as clean as possible.
Better Wood-Burning Efficiency and a Longer Life
A clean stove will burn wood more efficiently. When wood burns in a fireplace or a wood stove, it creates a buildup of creosote. Creosote is flammable and if a large enough buildup occurs, it can cause a chimney fire. This is why clean stoves and stove pipes are safer.
Keeping a stove close will also allow it to last longer. Take good care of your stove and it can last generations. If you use your stove often or nightly, it’s a good idea to clean your stove once a week to prevent a large buildup of creosote.
The Importance of Clean Wood
A major contributor to a clean stove is the wood you burn. Clean fumes equals clean stove. The most ideal wood is dry seasoned wood in your stove. That means wood that you or someone else has felled, split and moved to a dry storage area inside for at least a year.
To tell if your wood is seasoned look for cracks on the ends, a dark color, and a hollow sound when you knock on it. Never burn trash, paper or plastic in your stove. Not only will it cause soot and creosote, but the fumes and smoke from the fire can fill your home and is harmful to inhale.
Staying Safe Around Your Wood Burning Stove
It’s the same with chemically treated wood and particle board. Greenwood can be harmful as well. If you don’t give the wood a chance to dry out, it prevents the wood from burning at a high temperature. A slow, low burning fire that smolders will encourage creosote to form and will increase the risk of a chimney fire.
When cleaning your wood stove, removing creosote buildup is your biggest goal. Creosote will build up on the inside of your stove and in your stove pipes. When your stove is hot, creosote is a liquid. Only when your stove is cold is creosote in its solid form. This is one of the main reasons you should wait until your wood stove has cooled to clean it. Once the creosote has cooled down, it’s fairly easy to remove. All you need is a scraping tool, a little elbow grease and determination.
Before you get down to cleaning your wood stove, it’s important to be prepared with the supplies you need to get the job done. If your not one for messes, cover the surrounding area with a plastic drop cloth or newspaper. This will keep ashes from going everywhere and possibly ruining your floor. Make sure to arm yourself with gloves and a dust mask.
Prepare Yourself With the Proper Supplies
When brushing and scooping the ashes out of your stove, it can create a fine dust that is not good to inhale. Keep your dust mask on until you are completely finished. A scrapper and an ash shovel are the last of your essential tools for clean up. These will come in handy for scrapping creosote and scooping ash out of your stove.
Always remember: When disposing of ashes, place them in a metal bucket with a metal cover, and let it sit on a non-flammable surface for 48 hours. This will ensure that there are no hot embers when you dump the ashes.
Cleaning your wood stove can take time, especially when you add in the time to clean the stove pipe. This can go all the way up to the roof and may not be a safe idea for some people. Do your due diligence and make sure this is something you feel comfortable doing. It’s recommended that if you feel unsure at all, hire a professional. The expense is worth it, when compared to what you could risk.