A poorly constructed stove will not only vent smoke into your home but also burn and heat inefficiently. However, if you can’t afford a better-quality stove, any wood-burning stove is better than none and that’s why here at Bolney Stoves we’ve compiled a guide to help you get the most out of your stove. Take the time to learn the basics so that hopefully you’ll become familiar with the resources to stay warm and comfortable all year long. When buying a stove, most manufacturers indicate the reasonable amount of space you can heat with a given stove, but this is dependent on the stove quality. Therefore, it’s important that you anticipate your square footage and understand how many square feet any stove you purchase can reasonably heat.
Less is More
It’s vital that you don’t go overboard with the wood. It can be a common misconception that more wood = more fire, but that’s not entirely true. Wood stove experts believe that adding too many wood logs can destroy overall combustion and actually lead to a smaller, cooler fire. By stuffing the stove with firewood, you effectively remove air needed for the ideal combustion rate. The perfect amount of wood fills the stove without blocking the air inlet. It’s a good idea to refuel the stove often rather than overloading the stove and consequently reducing its efficiency while increasing its smoke output.
Type of Wood
The type and seasoning of the wood that you choose to burn is also important in relation to the effectiveness of your stove. While you may have purchased properly dried wood, if improperly stored, moisture can be injected into the wood. It’s important to not store wood under a tightly closed tarp or laid about your hard. The best way to keep your wood dry is to store it off the ground and shielded with a roof-like structure to protect against rain and snow. When stacking wood, do not tightly pack wood together. In order to sustain its optimum dryness level, wood must have access to free-flowing air. Do not store an excess amount of wood in your home living areas. Only store wood for immediate use in your home.
Age of Wood
A rule of thumb is that only wood that has been dried or aged for a least a year should be used in a wood-burning stove. In an emergency, you do what you have to do, but green wood not only burns inefficiently but produces creosote that will eventually clog your stove pipes and chimney – creating a fire hazard.
Green wood is also a common factor affecting the inefficiency of wood burning stoves. It’s been estimated that green wood is around 50% water, which means that means that for every kilogram of green wood you add to the fire, you’re effectively adding around 500ml of water. This means that you will need to make sure that your fuel has been dried properly. There are simple ways of doing this, which include finding green wood and drying it yourself (cheapest option) but you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got space to dry your logs properly - bear in mind that it will take a while. As a minimum, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve given your logs at least one summer to dry properly. The alternative is finding a good supplier. The best way of finding a good log supplier is to go through an accreditation scheme. This is an audit of whether the logs really are as dry as the supplier claims, which gives you some peace of mind that you’re not being ripped off.
Insulation applies to the retention of heat regardless of the heat source, but you can reduce your wood stockpile needs if you manage insulation properly. The key is to understand not only key insulation points, but temperature management. Temperature management also involves stopping leaks in the integrity of a structure. This is largely defined by doors and windows. What most people don’t know is that doors are the biggest heat leakers. Make sure your doors are sealed with a rubber or plasticized gasket and that the door seals tight.
Finally, your stove requires maintenance, so it’s important to give it a service every year, to ensure that it is running as efficiently as possible. During each annual maintenance, the seals need to be evaluated and potentially replaced. The chimney should be swept and cleaned by a chimney sweep regardless of the quality of wood you are burning. If you want to do this yourself, you can - just buy the necessary equipment and make it a late spring chore. It’s also important to clean out and dump the ashes on a regular basis. You’ll need an ash bucket and a place to dump the ashes in the cold and snow of winter. Think ahead about how and where you’ll do this. Remember: The ash will most likely have hot coals that are a fire hazard.