How to Use a Wood Burning Stove

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With today’s high energy prices, a wood burning stove is a good alternative to reduce your high energy bills and a very effective way to heat your home.

Things You’ll Need:

  • A wood burning stove, preferably fan-forced
  • Wood, well cured/at least one year old
  • Lots of kindling (small pieces of wood/bark)
  • Cardboard or paper (nothing with a plastic coating)
  • barbecue grill lighter or fireplace matches

If you have a fan-forced wood burner, you can turn up your thermostat to turn the fan on and supply air to your fire. The fan will keep running until your room is the desired temperature. There is a switch on top of the fan that you can also use to shut the fan off and this will stop the airflow to the fire if you feel the fire is sufficient. Below the fan is a round wheel that looks like a star. You can also open this to provide air to assist in getting your fire started. 

 Though some models may vary, there are two handles at the bottom of most stoves. The handle on the right opens the door that holds your ash pan. I recommend emptying the ashes from your wood burner at least once a month.

The handle on the left is to shake the grates inside the stove. This will allow the ash to fall to the ash pan so you can continue to receive the desired airflow to your fire.

 Keep a 5-gallon metal can to keep your ash in, in the event that you feel your fire is a bit too big or too hot, you can shovel some of the ash on your coals to reduce the heat.

 Damper control and access door. The handle above the door on the stove is the damper control. Before starting your fire, pull this handle out about half-way to open the damper. This lets the smoke from your fire escape up the chimney/flue. After your fire is burning at the desired temperature, you may close the damper down 3/4 of the way by pushing the handle back in. This will keep the heat in the stove.

 Place wadded up paper or cardboard in the bottom of the stove. Build a small pyramid of kindling (small pieces of wood or bark). You can purchase “cut-offs” from your local sawmill cheaper than buying cord wood. For those of you who didn’t know, a cord of wood is 4′ x 4′ x 8′, and usually runs $50 and up.

 Once your fire is burning well, then you can add one or two logs at a time, always keeping them at an angle so they can receive airflow from underneath. This will keep the fire burning. Depending on the size of your stove, you will have to stir the coals and place another one or two logs on every hour or two. It’s a good idea to hang around and watch the fire until your blower kicks on upstairs. That way you can be sure you have sufficient heat built up.

 Before you go to bed you can bank all of your coals to one side of the stove. This will keep the coals burning until morning.

 Tips & Warnings

  • You can purchase “cut-offs” from your local sawmill cheaper than buying cord wood. For those of you who didn’t know, a cord of wood is 4′ x 4′ x 8′, and usually runs $50 and up.
  • Be sure to clean your flue after every 60 fires or so. This gets rid of the creosote build-up that causes chimney fires.
  • Always read your manufacturer’s instructions.  Some models of stove may be different in minor ways from this description.
  • Never touch the stove except on the handles. The handles are designed to stay cool.

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