“Ahead of winter, when we naturally use wood burners more,” says Phil Wood of Contura, “it’s a good idea to give your stove a thorough clean and health check.
“A well-maintained stove and chimney will protect your home against fires and other structural damage caused by the accumulation of soot, tar and other residue built up in the flue.
“Regular cleaning will also clear any obstructions, such as bird or animal nests, leaves and debris, and ensure your wood burner performs at its optimum.”
Read on for Contura’s guide for cleaning and maintaining your stove this autumn.
Stove health check
Giving your stove a yearly MOT can help troubleshoot any issues. Firstly, clean out the firebox and empty the ash pan, then shine a torch inside to check there are no cracks or breakages. Finally, let the stove air for a few hours as good air circulation will ensure the best possible combustion and burn. Open the air inlets and keep the door ajar to allow the stove and chimney to fully air.
Wipe the window with stove glass cleaner, leave for five minutes, then remove with a damp rag. Clean a sooty window on a wood burning stove with ash applied on a damp cloth as this will help remove soot stains easier, then wipe with a clean cloth. Patches of rust can be removed by gently using a wire brush or steel wool. Wear protective gloves and rub away the dust, then sweep the area clear of dirt with a stove brush or shoe brush.
Consider lining the chimney
Lining the chimney prevents the flue leaking smoke or fumes, can prevent tar staining through chimney walls, and helps the flue to draw properly for good air circulation. It can also prevent erosion from use and improve the flue’s service for the most efficient burn. Lining the chimney is highly recommended – particularly for older properties – as flue wear and tear can make the stove less efficient.
Resist the urge to fill the wood burner, as it’s important not to overload it -a wood burner is by nature a slow burn. Burn kiln-dried wood if possible and always purchase the best wood you can afford from a recommended supplier. You could also invest in a soapstone surround or a powerstone heat tank for extra heat retention, meaning the stove will stay warm for hours after the fire has been extinguished without the need to add more logs. Good ventilation within the room will allow heat to circulate effectively, so keep rooms aired by opening windows and doors when possible.
It’s not enough to use a vacuum cleaner or duster, so do invest in the services of a professional chimney sweep once a year as a minimum. Anyone working on your chimney must be in receipt of the integrity test certificate, including fireplace suppliers and/or installers. Once the flue has been swept, an ‘integrity test’ is useful to locate where cracks or faults in the chimney may be present; vital for spotting if dangerous gasses and smoke are not able to escape.