To those of us living in the Minneapolis / St. Paul areas, keeping warm is a top priority for more of the year than we’d like to admit. Many homeowners use wood stoves and fireplaces to supplement central heating, so it’s important to know how to care for your wood burning appliance. If you have a wood stove, some of the following tips can be helpful.

First off, let’s cover the don’ts. Never burn driftwood, artificial logs, treated wood, or trash, which could contain zinc, sulfur, plastic, or lead. It might be easier to assume that if you can seal the door, you’re not breathing anything dangerous, but these things can emit harmful gases when burned that could start a chimney fire or compromise your air quality.

Make sure that any wood you use is properly seasoned. Wet or green wood will cause additional creosote buildup.

Make sure that any wood you use is properly seasoned. Wet or green wood will cause additional creosote buildup.

As with any wood burning appliance, it is always best to burn only dry, seasoned wood.  This will maximize heating efficiency and minimize creosote buildup. Small, hot fires that range between 300°-400° degrees is what you’re aiming for. If you have a stack thermometer installed, it’s easier to maintain this temperature for optimum efficiency and the least amount of pollution. Another way to determine if your fire is burning hot and clean is to take a look outside. The less smoke you see coming out of chimney the better.

Keep those air-intake vents clean. Ash can collect around the vents, so be sure to remove it regularly. Not only will this help you keep your fire hotter, it will also mean that your fire won’t require as much oxygen to burn. (And guess where the oxygen comes from? That’s right, your home.) Another thing to keep in mind is that other exhaust appliances can interfere with the air consumed by your wood stove. If the fire doesn’t have enough air, smoke will reverse its flow and enter your home.

Make sure your stove is safe. A safety tested wood stove will bear an NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) label to identify it as being in compliance with building and safety codes. At Jack Pixley, we are equipped to install top-quality wood stoves that adhere to safety codes, and we’re certified to keep your stove and chimney clean and in proper working order. We know what to look for and where, and are here to look out for your safety.

A wood stove can be a great asset for keeping your home warm, but remember that heavy use also means faster creosote buildup. Creosote buildup is a part of every wood burning appliance, no matter how efficient your fires are, and it’s important to keep the chimney clear of creosote or any other obstruction. The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends having your wood stove and chimney inspected and cleaned at least annually to ensure that every component is working properly and safely. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (763) 422-0481. We also offer convenient online scheduling if you’re strapped for time.