How to Maintain a Tiny Wood Stove
Proper maintenance is critical to the efficient function and safety of your wood stove.
Before Each Use
Use a brush to collect ash in the ash pan, and empty it prior to each fire, and as needed. Ashes may contain embers for hours or days after the fire goes out, so they’re best disposed of in a fireproof ash bin. Improper disposal of ashes (i.e. tossing them in the kitchen trash can) is a leading cause of stove-related house fires, so treat ashes with appropriate care.
Some soot will often accumulate on your stove glass. To remove it while the stove is cold, moisten a crumpled sheet of newspaper with water and dip it in some wood ash, then use the ash to scrub the glass until the deposits are removed. There are commercially available wood stove glass cleaning products, but scrubbing the glass with wet newspaper and wood ash seems to work the best.
Maintaining Your Stove's Finish
Most stoves are painted with high temperature paint, which can scratch with use. I periodically wipe my stove top down with a thin layer of cooking oil to cure any bare metal and prevent rust, same as you would with a cast iron skillet. Cooking oil can smoke when curing, so be sure to have the space well ventilated during the next fire. I like the look of a worn in stove, but if you ever want your stove to look brand new again, you can repaint it with Stove Bright brand high-temperature paint.
Another useful product to maintain the finish of a wood stove is stove polish. If your stove is rusty, rubbing it with stove polish can simultaneously remove rust and add a layer of protection, while providing a shiny black finish.
If your stove uses firebrick in the firebox, bricks will last for years of typical use, but will eventually need to be repaired or replaced. Chips and cracks can be repaired by filling cracked joints with fire cement. Contact your stove manufacturer to source correct replacement bricks.
Airtight stoves use gaskets on their doors, which need to be checked and replaced from time to time. To inspect the gasket while the stove is cold, place a dollar bill halfway in the door opening and close and latch the door. If you’re able to pull the bill out from between the door and the stove with no resistance, the gasket is worn and should be replaced.
Inspecting the Flue System
You will need to inspect your flue system on a regular basis and clean it as often as necessary. The frequency of cleaning will depend on how you use the stove—how often you use it, what type of fuel you use, and what temperatures it runs. It’s a good idea to inspect a new installation weekly for the first month, then on a monthly basis during the heating season (cleaning as needed). If you experience deteriorating performance or puffs of smoke entering the room when opening the door, inspect the flue. If there is ⅛” or more of build-up on the wall of the flue, clean it before using the stove again.
Sweeping the Flue System
To clean the flue, use a chimney brush that will fit the diameter of your pipe. Brush the interior of the pipe until buildup is removed. If there is excessive creosote buildup, using a commercially available creosote remover prior to sweeping the flue can help to loosen the deposits, but is not a substitute for mechanical sweeping.