Best Practices in Operating and Maintenance of Outdoor Wood Burning Stoves

Wood burning stoves require proper operations and regular maintenance. When you follow a safe and efficient routine in the use and maintenance of your outdoor wood burning stove, you will be able to enjoy hot water and a warm and comfortable living condition in your home.

  1. Use only proper fuel

There are hardwoods that could provide you with the best fuel for a wood stove such as maple, beech, ash, hickory, or oak. But you should always treat hardwood before using them. Therefore, wood should be cut, split and air dried for at least a year before burning. You can tell that you are using well-seasoned hardwood if you see cracks in the ends. Finally, you should store and protect wood by placing it in a shed or under a tarp.

  1. Regular cleaning

You should never overlook cleaning your outdoor wood burning stove. You may use a long wire brush to clean your stovepipe and chimney at least once a year. You should also use controlled, high-temperature fires in the stove. You may be tempted to use chemical cleaners but these do nothing to clean your chimney and stovepipe. Do not use heavy items such as chains or a brush on the end of a rope. These will only cause serious damage on the interior chimney lining.

  1. Take creosote buildup seriously

Stoves that burn at 100-200 degree Fahrenheit range will not be able to sufficiently carry all of the unburned, combustible gases into the atmosphere and therefore these condense along the walls of the stovepipe and the chimney as creosote.  Creosote is highly combustible and could burn very intensely; this may take 3 forms:

  • Creosote is a sticky liquid that could run down the chimney and stove pipe. This will instantly burn.
  • Creosote could also become a flaky, black deposit which may be easily removed by brushing
  • Creosote could transform into a hard, glazed tar. This is almost impossible to remove; you may need the help of a certified professional chimney sweep to get rid of this persistent type of creosote.

There are several ways to reduce or prevent the buildup of creosote. First is to use treated wood only for burning. Remember tip number 1, you should only use dried wood since burning wood that still has water will only lead to the creation of steam which leads to creosote. Next, you should keep your outdoor wood burning stove burning at high temperatures to prevent trapping steam and the creation of creosote. Finally, have your stove professionally cleaned on a regular basis. You will not just reduce the risk of creosote buildup but you will also increase the efficiency of your outdoor wood burning stove.

Are you new to using outdoor wood burning stoves? You can find more best practices in using this efficient energy source when you check out the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association (HPBA) Outdoor Furnace Best Burn Practice list.

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