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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mid-Winter Woodstove Maintenance


Have you cleaned your combustor lately? Or checked the protective inconel screens at the ceiling of the firebox? 

This winter has been particularly eventful with drastic changes in the weather. Making sure that your combustor and its protective screen are clear of ash build up will help ensure that your stove will provide warmth and comfort regardless of the weather. A simple vacuuming or brushing off of the combustor and screen is often sufficient to keep the stove functioning well.

Cleaning the combustor every 4-6 weeks should become routine maintenance. Every combustor has two sides a "face side" and an "exhaust side" the face side where the smoke initially passes through is more prone to clogging (as shown above).  Make sure both sides of the combustor are checked and cleaned.

The inconel screen provides protection for the combustor and will accumulate fly ash. If the build up is not cleaned severe clogging will occur (clogged Fireview inconel screen shown above) and the stove performance will drastically diminish.

If you have a newer stainless foil combustor, you can do a thorough cleaning with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and distilled water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and give both sides a good spritzing and let drain over paper towels, and/or foil pan. The vinegar solution is also great for removing any hard deposits on the inconel screens. Rinse with distilled water (ordinary tap water may contain minerals and chemicals that may have adverse effects on your combustor). After rinsing, let dry and put back in your stove.

Click below to see a slideshow on cleaning your combustor:

Your catalytic combustor (stainless or ceramic honeycomb materials) will work for 12,000 to 14,000 burn hours. That typically translates into a 3-6 year time span, depending on how long your winters are, wood quality, and stove operation.

One of the most common questions we hear from our stove owners is: How will I know when your combustor is worn out?  There are three symptoms that will indicate that the catalyst in your stove may not be working:
First, your stove will generate noticeably less heat than it will when the catalyst is working. 
Second, you will notice an increase in the amount of soot and/or creosote in you stovepipe or chimney. 
Third, the color of the smoke produced when the combustor is engaged will change. Smoke will appear brownish, instead of clear heat waves or white vapor. If you suspect your combustor is not working, let the stove cool down, remove and clean the combustor and screen and try again.

Please feel free to call us toll free at, 1-800-866-4344, if you have any question about your catalytic combustor.

Mid-winter is also the time to give your chimney and chimney cap a check, particularly if there is a screen around or under your cap. Build up of soot at this vulnerable point can inhibit draft flow, resulting in back puffing or reduced performance.

A clogged chimney cap will restrict air flow 










And remember- it’s never a bad time to be thinking about getting next year’s wood supply ordered, cut, split and seasoning!


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