If you use a wood burning stove or furnace to heat your home, then it is important to schedule a regular heating service at least once a year to ensure the safety of your system. HVAC contractors and heating professionals can both inspect your heater. Wood stove or furnace maintenance is necessary to reduce fire concerns and appropriate repairs can be suggested to keep your furnace safe. You also need to do a variety of things throughout the year to make sure that a fire does not start inside your chimney.
Use the Right Wood
If you use your wood furnace as a primary source of heat, then you likely stockpile wood during the warmer months for use in the winter. If you cut the wood yourself or purchase wood from a local supplier, then you need to make sure that the wood is allowed to dry out before you burn it.
Trees retain a great deal of water in their tissues, and sometimes 80% of the wood is made of water. This water must evaporate before the wood can effectively create heat. The moisture rises through your chimney as it burns off and this allows wet smoke particles to cling to the inside of your chimney. The unburned matter can then light once it builds up and you continue to use your wood furnace.
Dry Out Your Wood
To reduce the accumulation of debris within your chimney, make sure to season or dry out your wood for 6 to 12 months before you use it. Split your wood into pieces that are about four to six inches in diameter to increase the surface area of the wood and stack it in a dry location. Consider placing a tarp over the wood stack to keep rain water from absorbing into the wood. After about six months of seasoning, use a water moisture meter to check the water content within your wood. Wood is generally safe to burn when water content drops to about 20%.
If you want to make sure your wood is dry before you burn it, then make sure to stay away from soft woods as well. Soft wood trees are needle bearing varieties that generally contain some sap. This sap does not burn well and it can retain the moisture content of your wood for a longer period of time.
Check for Chimney Leaks
If you have an outdoor wood furnace that heats your home, then the device must be attached to a chimney. The chimney provides your fire with oxygen and it also allows smoke to rise into the air. The draft that is created by the chimney is extremely important, because it keeps your fire burning hot enough so creosote does not build within the chimney. Creosote is a sticky liquid material that forms when the smoke that rises from your chimney is too cool. The material is highly flammable and it can start on fire when extremely hot gases pass by the creosote.
To make sure that your draft is strong and creosote does not build significantly in your chimney, check for leaks in your masonry or pipe chimney.
If you see leaks within your chimney, make sure to close them. If you have a masonry chimney, then use a wire brush to remove loose mortar material between the joints of the bricks. Purchase new pre-mixed mortar from your local home store and use it to fill in the cracks and holes. Allow the mortar to cure for about one day before you use your wood furnace and chimney.
If you have an aluminum chimney pipe attached to your wood furnace, then purchase a high heat silicone sealant. Spread a generous amount of the material around the joints of your aluminum chimney pipe to reduce leaks.
If you have an outdoor wood furnace that you use for heat, then make sure to meet with a heating contractor every year for a proper inspection. This will help to reduce fire safety concerns and so will the tips above. Click here for more information.