Properly Cleaning and Maintainign a Wood Pellet Stove: A Simple Guide

A wood pellet stove is both economical and environmentally friendly. Our family has used a wood pellet stove for the past three years and only wish we had purchased one much sooner than we had. It has reduced our heating cost by at least 50 percent and has kept us warm and snuggly all winter long. Unlike a traditional wood stove it only needs cleaned out about once a week and it holds enough pellets to burn for 4 or 5 days, most will need filled about 1 or 2 times per day. We chose the model with a larger capacity hopper and we are very happy with it.

Cleaning takes about 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the circumstances. Cleaning and maintaining a pellet stove is very simple and easy to understand. This is a routine that I have found to work well. You may add your own ideas to suite your own needs. Before beginning any cleaning or maintenance always turn the stove off and allow it to cool down. It gets rather warm and will burn you if you are not cautious.

Once the stove is off I fill the hopper with pellets and gather the tools I use to clean the stove. The tools consist of a old stock pot to put ashes into, a small plastic cup to scoop out the ashes, a vacuum cleaner, some paper towels, a screwdriver, and glass cleaner. The reason I fill the hopper with pellets first is simply to give the stove time to cool, and it helps knock loose some of the ash, giving it a chance to settle before I open up the door. The stove will usually take 20 – 30 minutes to cool off enough to clean it out.

Once the stove has cooled down I open up the door to access the burn pot . I start by carefully placing the old stock pot under the door and placing the ashes accumulated on the door in the pot of ashes. Cleaning the door first will help avoid putting ashes all over the floor.

Next I take my index finger ( you may prefer a small broom or old toothbrush ) and sweep the ashes from around the burn pot so that the pot may be removed without all the ashes built up around the sides dropping into the cavity the pot sets in. Remove the burn pot and carefully set in the old stock pot for a moment. You will the need to take the screwdriver and remove and build up from inside the burn pot you just removed.

Once clean, set it off to the side for a moment. Using a plastic cup or some type of pliable scoop, remove the ashes from the stove. It is important to remove as much as possible without using the vacuum because it seems that the ashes are rather challenging for the sweeper, small amounts seem to be acceptable for our vacuum cleaner. After all the ashes are removed take the hose on the vacuum and clean out the cavity the burn pot sets in. This must be kept clear because this is where air is forced through to burn the pellets, and the igniter is also located in here if your stove has one.

After all the ashes are removed, replace the burn pot, and clean the glass on the door with the paper towels and glass cleaner. Paper towels with water work just fine to clean the glass on the door as well. On the outside I remove the clean out on the exhaust pipe and clean the pipe once a month or so. You can use a brush or I have even placed the old stock pot underneath the clean out and tapped the sides of the exhaust pipe with the handle of a screwdriver to remove the ashes from the pipe.

Every fall before starting the stove for the season I remove the panel from the back of the stove and clean out the dust from the electric motors and circuit boards and such. It is also a good idea to lubricate the electric motors and other moving parts every so often to increase the life of them. Check your manual for the proper lubricant to use. I just use WD40 or something similar and have had no problems.

The only part I had to replace in three years was an igniter that cost around 40 dollars. The cost of the wood pellets is around 700 dollars for the entire winter. This is keeping our 1400 square foot home, that isn’t insulated to well between 75 and 80 degrees F all the time. In fact, if it’s not below 20 degrees outside we need to keep a window open or it gets to warn inside. This is with our wood pellet stove on it’s lowest setting. This is by far one of the best investments we have made in our home. Now if I could find an invisible maid I would be in great shape.

For more in-depth photo’s of the wood pellet stove and cleaning procedures please check out my slide show at http://www.associatedcontent.com/slideshow/1562/the_ashley_5500_xl_wood_pellet_stove.html.

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