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Care for Your Wood Stove

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.

Clean Chimney = Clean Air

A fireplace can be a beautiful centerpiece to a home, but the overwhelming consequences caused by not having routine maintenance done to your chimney are not so pleasant.  It is recommended that you get a professional chimney sweep and basic inspections  done once every year.  Most homeowners do not understand that if they do not follow through with these recommendations, it could cause bigger issues later.  One of the things impacted could be the air quality in your home.

Taking preventative measures like annual chimney inspections can save you lots of money and headache in the long run.

Taking preventative measures like annual chimney inspections can save you lots of money and headache in the long run.

Many of the common and easy to fix problems start with the simple chimney sweep.  The first is that until removed, creosotes and other particles will continue to build up inside of the chimney.  This could lead to a draft problems by creating blockages.  When you have a draft problem, the smoke from the fire cannot leave the chimney properly and then is forced back into your home.  This air will contain chemicals such as Carbon Monoxide that could potentially be harmful to you and your family.  In rare occasions, too much CO can lead to fatalities. Using different types of wood can also be helpful because they may produce less creosotes than others, so make sure you do all your research when buying firewood.  Even though you may enjoy the smoky, outdoors smell, that is not a good thing to have in the home because it contains many of the particles found in creosotes.  Make sure you have doors on the front of your fireplace to help air from flowing back into the room, and that the room is large enough to handle whatever may come back.

Another problem with not fixing problems in the chimney is that if you have cracks or places that water can collect mold can begin to form.  This can cause a few spots, but if it spreads it can even go as far into the walls of your home and other parts of the foundation.  These particles could then get to the vents and released into the home, not to mention the threat to the structural integrity of your home. Mold can cause many different kinds of health problems and is particularly bad for those with asthma or other respiratory issues. Reduce potential indoor pollution today by scheduling a certified sweep from Jack Pixley to alleviate these worries.