This year has given our alternative heating systems quite a work out and considering what they pay back in fuel savings it makes sense to perform some preventative maintenance now, before the next heating season. Whether your capable of doing so yourself or you hire someone, such as a certified chimney sweep or your stove dealer, these are some things we at Blazing Hot Stoves in Oakville, Ct feel you should consider.
If you burn a wood or coal stove you should sweep and inspect the chimney at least once a year. In addition, you should vacuum out the stove and inspect for damage such as disintegrated fire bricks or any deterioration in the integrity of the stove itself such as cracks or warped /drooping parts which may have been over fired. If the stove checks out then a fresh coat of paint will help keep the stove looking as good as it performs. You should also give the stove gaskets a look over at this time. If they are still firmly anchored and not frayed that is a good sign. Then you must test the integrity of the gaskets and to do so you can try this simple test. Close a strip of paper in the door and if it gives light to moderate resistance when you pull it out, then the gasket should be adequate. If not, then you should adjust the door catch if possible. If you don’t have any adjustment then just replace the gasket. Take a measurement of the gasket length and bring a sample of the gasket to the hearth store so it can be matched up. Remember, don’t remove the gasket until you’re sure you’re done heating for the season!!!
Don’t forget the chimney either. If it is a brick chimney you should check for cracks in the mortar or the crown. You should also inspect the chimney and roof flashing. Check the chimney cap and also look for mineral deposits on the bricks as well. These mineral deposits can be a telltale sign of water seepage and potential damage to the mortar. If you observe this condition you should have the chimney sealed with a masonry sealer such as Chimneysaver brand water repellent but never Thompson’s sealer or any product for sealing wood. That will only trap moisture in the brick and not solve your problem. If it’s a metal or “class a” chimney system then you should also inspect the sheet metal plus any fasteners, brackets and flashing’s for corrosion and structural integrity.
If you have a pellet stove you should perform all of the above that may apply to your chimney venting configuration. Then look at the pellet stove itself. It will usually need a bit more attention on an annual basis then a wood stove does. In that case, you should consult your owners manual or call your dealer and schedule an annual seasonal cleaning. We will discuss more detailed pellet stove cleaning tips in another article.
If you own a gas stove, you should again inspect the venting system as mentioned above. Then turn your attention to the appliance itself. This is another case where the owners manual will be vital to you. Using the manual as a guide, the basic annual maintenance should include removal and cleaning the glass, log set and embers. While they are out, vacuum and inspect the firebox. Use care in handling the components such as the logs because they are fragile and are expensive to replace. Most stove shops should offer this service should the scope of this job be above your capabilities. Either way, this should be performed annually.
Now is also a good time to start shopping for your cord wood and pellets. This time of year your dollar will go further then if you wait until later summer. Or, if you use propane you may want to inquire now about your best possible rate per gallon or see if there is a budget plan available.
Your local hearth shop should have everything needed to perform these services and repairs so stop in today and get your supplies as well as some free advice before you begin your project. Remember, next heating season is just around the corner.
Always keep your wood bark side up.