Those Lovable Wood Stoves - Secrets that make them heat better and smoke less.
Do you want to save money, pollute less and enjoy your time at home more? Who doesn’t? Yes, there are a number of “secrets” that will make wood stoves operate better, save money, pollute less and be more enjoyable.
Most every wood stove user can benefit from knowing more about their stove’s operation. Many of these secrets apply to wood burning fireplaces also.
These secrets fall into two categories:
A. Planning ahead before a stove is installed
B. Using your stove after a wood stove is installed.
Here are five secrets that even architects don’t know about. You may be able to break one or two of these five design rules and your stove will run OK, but if you break three or more of the rules, your stove will probably not operate very well. Additional information can be found at: http://www.gulland.ca/BPFinal.pdf
1. Install wood stoves and their chimney inside
the main building structure and do not locate them outside of exterior walls in a pop out structure. It may be easy to create that pop out structure for an alcove on an outside wall, but this almost guarantees that hard starting, downdrafts and smoking will result.
2. The stove and chimney should be located at or near the peak of the building. This location keeps the chimney the warmest and creates minimum roof and wind caused chimney pressurizing. Warm chimneys that have little downdraft pressure always start well and have little smoke spillage.
3. Large exhaust fans and poorly balanced HVAC systems depressurize naturally drafting chimneys and draw air down chimneys. They definitely should not be used during stove startup. HVAC depressurization of a home can sometimes be eliminated by inspection and repair of attic duct work.
4. Avoid short chimney systems. You may save a little money, but it is guaranteed that you will have a poor starting and weak drafting stove. The solution is to add chimney. An absolute minimum height from floor to chimney top is 15 feet.
5. Use straight chimney systems. Systems with elbows and large offsets from the stove to the vertical chimney will make the stove very hard starting and poor drafting. This will also make the chimney more difficult and expensive to clean.
Using Your Wood Stove:
Whether your stove installation breaks none of the above rules, or it breaks several of them, here are some operating procedures that will always make it work better, save you money and pollute less.
1. Keep your wood dry. Always keep your
wood covered. Excess moisture (more than 20%) in firewood excessively reduces combustion temperatures. It causes smoking, creosotes up your chimney, wastes your money and pollutes the neighborhood. When you see your chimney smoke spreading out in your neighborhood, not only will you make your neighbors mad, but that smoke is like dollar bills floating away. Amazon.com has moisture meters for under $20.
2. Use plenty of kindling for quick, hot starting. I know it’s more work to split lots of kindling, but plenty of kindling starts your stove quickly and minimizes smoking.
3. Get your stove really hot when you start it each day. Hot stoves burn cleanly and save money.
4. Reload your stove more often with smaller loads of wood. This produces smaller, hotter fires that have less smoke and save your money
5. Give your stove plenty of air. You want to
have grey ash residue and glass that has no black deposits. Starving stoves for air, reduces their combustion temperatures, reduces efficiency, pollutes the neighborhood and wastes your money.
6. Most stoves need to have the grey ash removed after half a cord of wood is burned. If you have a lot of black charcoal it means you are burning your stove too cold and wasting fuel. This can be caused by any or all of items 1 through 5 above.
7. Regularly have your wood stove and chimney inspected and cleaned by a good chimney sweep. A clean chimney will make your stove draft better and be much safer to operate. Chimney sweeps can also tell you a lot about how well you’re operating your wood stove.