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Local Firefighters Warm Up to Wood Stoves - GFD - 01/02/2007


Local Firefighters Warm Up to Wood Stoves

WILLIAMSBURG - In spite of the recent stretch of unseasonable weather experienced throughout the Northeast, the calendar truly shows that winter is here.  The onset of this season marks the beginning of burning season for those of us with wood stoves.  With that in mind, members of the Goshen, Chesterfield and Williamsburg Fire Departments held a joint training session at the Adams Stove Co. in Williamsburg to learn more about wood burning appliances.  Deputy Chief and Training Officer Rick Clark of the Goshen Fire Department coordinated the session.  David Meier, owner of the company, applied his 17 years of experience to a group of 25 individuals through the operating basics of pellet stoves and the types of problems we might encounter when responding to calls related to improper installation or malfunctioning devices.  Other topics discussed included the proper stove installation, variations in fuel, clearances and great insight from a dealer's perspective of the common problems typically seen throughout the industry.

We’d like to thank David for his time and efforts to help us help others when they need it.

Listed below are some helpful maintenance suggestions for your consideration:

What are the routine things that I do to keep my stove working right?

Routine maintenance tasks are essential to peak stove performance:

  • Burn pot - Checked daily and cleaned periodically to keep air inlets open. Frequency of cleaning depends on fuel type, grade, and content.
  • Ash drawer - Emptying recommended before starting new fires and occasionally by interrupting stove operation. Frequency depends on fuel and stove design. Typically once or twice a week, but monthly in some new designs.
  • Heat exchanger - On some stoves, simply a matter of moving a rod that scrapes the tubes inside the stove. May require professional service on others.
  • Ash traps - Chambers located behind the fire chamber, which prevent excess fly ash in the exhaust from exiting the stove. Easily accessed for ash removal by owners in some designs; on others requires professional service.
  • Glass - Cleaned with glass cleaner when the glass is completely cool on stoves with effective air wash systems. May require more vigorous methods on others.
  • Hopper - Checked for accumulated sawdust materials (fines). Fuel in the hopper and auger tube should be run out occasionally to prevent auger blockage by fines.

What are some of the more advanced maintenance tasks?

Cleaning the venting system is usually performed by professionals (see below), but can be tackled by the handy stove owner with thorough knowledge and the right equipment. Motors and fans need occasional cleaning and may require lubrication. The wrong lubricant or wrong amount of lubricant can damage components. Some components, which call for removal for service, require replacement of a gasket. Gaskets for the fire chamber door, ash pan door, and hopper lid (on some designs) may need occasional replacement to assure a tight seal.

What professional maintenance and repair services will I need?

Most pellet stove owners depend on professional service for cleaning and preventive maintenance on at least an annual basis. Many dealers offer service plans that offer reduced costs and convenient scheduling. Cleaning and maintenance services usually performed include:

  • Emptying ash traps and cleaning exhaust passages behind the fire chamber.
  • Cleaning and lubricating fans and motors.
  • Cleaning the hopper and fuel feed system.
  • Cleaning the heat exchanger system.
  • Cleaning exhaust pipes and resealing the venting system if needed.
  • Verifying and adjusting the stove settings with proper gauges and meters.
  • Mechanical and electric components may eventually wear out and need repair or replacement.

Note: This information was prepared by HEARTH Education Foundation, in cooperation with the Hearth Products Association and the Pellet Fuel Institute.

(January 2nd, 2007)