Proper wood stove maintenance is critical for both efficiency and safety. Remove ash and clean the glass daily. Sweep the chimney, scrub and vacuum the firebox yearly.
Wood stove maintenance is necessary to ensure your stove will safely heat your house for years to come. Good maintenance doesn’t take long but should be done regularly to ensure safe and efficient fires. Today we’re going to do over three times you should perform maintenance on your wood stove: before starting it, after a fire, and end-of-season maintenance.
Wood Stove Maintenance Before Starting a Fire
Before starting a new fire in your wood stove is a great time to get a little maintenance in. I do my routine wood stove maintenance first thing in the morning before starting the fire for the day. These two simple steps should be done at least daily but can be performed more often if there is a lot of ash build-up or dirty glass.
- Remove Ash. Remove ash from the bottom of the stove to a fire-proof ash bucket. It is important to properly dispose of ashes in a container that won’t melt or catch on fire because embers in the ashes can stay hot long after the fire is out. If ashes are placed in a kitchen trash or vacuumed up they may cause a house fire.
- Clean the Glass. The best time to clean the glass door on a wood stove is when it is cool. I use water and a boar bristle brush to scrub my glass, then wipe it clean with a cotton cloth. Another popular way to clean wood stove glass is to moisten crumpled newspaper, dip it in ash, and use that to scrub the glass. A diluted ammonia spray or commercial wood stove glass cleaner are also glass-cleaning options, but I find my brush and water to work best.
Wood Stove Maintenance After Using the Stove
During the cold months, we really don’t have an “after using the stove” period. The most our stove rests is overnight when the wood burns down and we’re all sleeping. When we go to bed we make sure the door is secure, the vents are set at an appropriate location, and the fire is going nicely. The next morning we do the wood stove maintenance listed above and light a new fire for the day. Sometimes if we’re lucky there are still a few hot coals in the back of the stove to help the fire get going faster.
End-of-Season Wood Stove Maintenance
With Spring comes end-of-season wood stove maintenance. I prefer to leave this for when overnight temps are consistently in the 50-degree F range for at least a week and are forecasted to stay there. End-of-season maintenance is all about getting your stove ready for the first cold day in the fall. You want to be able to load it up and light it when the fall chill comes without having to scrub, sweep, or plan anything.
Sweep the Chimney
Actually, have a professional do it. Condensed smoke, known as creosote, builds up in the chimney during use. Creosote is flammable and can lead to a chimney fire. Have a professional sweep the chimney in the spring to get it ready for the next season. If you’re inclined to sweep the chimney yourself, check out these two guides to cleaning your chimney.
Vacuum the Stove
To thoroughly vacuum the stove, first make sure it is completely cold. You don’t want to start a fire in the vacuum or melt it. Remove the firebricks from the inside of the stove and run the hose attachment of a vacuum cleaner throughout the whole firebox. It is best to do this after sweeping the chimney
Clean the firebricks
When the firebricks are removed for vacuuming is the perfect time to give them a thorough scrub. A wire-bristle brush is perfect for the job. I prefer to do this outside with a bucket of water. Scrub all sides of the firebrick to remove any black creosote build-up. Leave them outside to dry before placing them back in the stove.
Firebricks should last for many years, but they will need replacing eventually. During end-of-year maintenance is the perfect time to inspect your firebricks. Cracks can be filled with stove cement, but broken stones should be replaced.
Inspect the Gaskets
Airtight stoves use gaskets in the door to keep a strong seal. Over time these wear out and eventually need replacing. To test your gasket, place a sheet of paper in the door and close it all the way. If the paper can be pulled out in any place it’s time to replace the gasket. If you need to replace your gasket, consult your owner’s manual to see what size rope you need, and watch this video for step-by-step instructions.
Clean and Store Tools
Wood burning stoves come with a lot of accessories. During your end-of-season maintenance, thoroughly wash, dry, and store your accessories together. I like to give my ash bucket a good wash outside. Once it’s dry, I place all my small accessories inside the bucket and store it behind the stove. This way they stay clean and out of the way through the warmer months, but are easily available in the fall. You can read about my favorite minimalist wood stove accessories here
Wood stove maintenance is the most important step to having safe fires year after year. Daily maintenance should take no longer than ten minutes. End-of-season maintenance can easily be done in a weekend.
I would love to hear about your wood stove maintenance. What does your routine look like? Do you have a favorite way to keep your glass door clean? Let me know below in the comments!
To learn more about using a wood burning stove, check out my other articles on the topic:
Thanks for coming along on the journey,