5 Steps to Preparing Your Pellet Stove For Summer
A pellet stove is a great investment and according to the EPA, they are among the most environmentally friendly wood-burning heaters on the market.
If you want your stove to keep pumping out the warm and happy feelings next winter, you need to make sure you give it a good send-off in the spring. That involves a little more than pulling the plug and heading for the great outdoors.
Here’s how to prepare your pellet stove for summer so that it comes back ready and raring to go when you need it most.
Be sure to apply our techniques in accordance with specific maintenance guidelines and tips found in your owner’s manual. Every make and model have their quirks.
Step 1: Switch off
Turn your stove off, unplug it from the wall and let it cool down completely.
Assemble everything you will need to get started –
- Heat-safe cleaning solvent
- A soft cloth
- Specialized pellet stove ash vacuum
- Dust mask
- Latex gloves
- Drop Cloths
Be sure that your cleaning solution does not contain ammonia as this can damage the glass parts of your stove.
It is a good idea to wear a boiler suit or old clothing as this task can get messy.
Once your pellet stove is completely cool remove all of the wood pellets from the hopper, as pellets can absorb moisture if left in too long which could easily damage the pellet stove when you try to start it again next winter.
Fine wood fibers are very absorbent and could collect moisture over the summer months, leading to rust and costly repairs. A buildup of sawdust or fines can also cause your auger to jam and place unnecessary stress on your auger motor
Step 2: Give it the once over
Check your pellet stove over for any obvious visible defects such as cracks, warping or discoloring. Get in touch with your dealer if you notice any of these and they will refer you to a qualified repairman.
Check the firebox, ash pan and hopper door gaskets for leaks. An easy way to do this is to take a piece of paper, fold it in half and place it in the doorway. Then close the door and try to pull the paper out. Try this at several points around the door.
If the paper comes out easily, your gaskets need to be replaced. These are easily found online or you can trace the relevant shape onto a piece of gasket material and cut it out.
Sort out any problems now rather than during the chilly season when you need your appliance working at its best.
Step 3: Cleaning your wood pellet stove
Place a drop cloth on the floor around the pellet stove to eliminate messy spills on your flooring. Put on your dust mask and gloves.
A handy tip is to turn your stove onto ’test‘ mode while dusting. This sucks ash into the exhaust via the convection fan, instead of letting it escape into the house. Remember to switch it off afterward.
Remove the access doors or panels and vacuum them. Likewise take out the inner firebox brick panels, firewall panels, ash traps and top heat exchange panels and vacuum them too. These items will vary from stove to stove. Consult your manual if you are feeling lost.
For the best results use an ash vacuum, ash can damage an ordinary household vacuum cleaner.
Start by using a stiff brush to sweep away ash buildup on the inner walls, in and around the heat exchanger and within all the nooks and crannies. A small bottle brush and a clean dry paintbrush can really help to get into those tight corners.
Getting rid of this ash will help your stove to run more efficiently and deliver more heat come winter.
Give your firepot a thorough vetting and clean off all scale and carbon build-up. Check that all the air holes are clear and clean them out with a small screwdriver or paperclip if necessary.
Scrape off any stubborn residue in the burn pot with a metal scraper. Most pellet stoves come with one, but if yours didn’t – you can pick one up here.
Remove the combustion fan and distribution fan. If you can take these outside and blast them with compressed air, that is the easiest way to clean them. Otherwise, a paintbrush works just fine to clean the blades. Make sure all the dust and hair is removed and the vacuum them to remove any tiny bits of ash.
Likewise, dust and vacuum the blades of your motor fan.
Give the exhaust venting a thorough cleaning with a brush and rod kit. The brush will loosen the ash inside your venting and make removing it a cinch. Make sure you purchase the correct size for your venting – the brushes come in 3“ and 4“ sizes.
Lastly, clean the glass with a heat-safe product and soft cloth. Gently scrubbing any tough grime with steel wool works well but cleaning the glass regularly throughout the season will prevent this and make your summer tasks a lot easier.
Step 4 – The finer details
The motors of some stove models need to be lubricated. The oil ports are usually clearly indicated on the motor. A few drops of oil will do – don’t over lubricate these parts.
Give the stove a final once over and check that all seems in place with the electrical wiring, ignitor, auger motor, pressure switch, and hoses.
Step 5 – Plug it up
Place a cap or screen over your chimney before you place it in storage to keep rodents, insects, moisture, and debris out.
Remember to remove the cap when it comes time to start up again!
Cleaning the passages of your pellet stove before storage will ensure an uneventful start up when the first chill arrives and is vital for your stove to operate at an optimum. Even a tiny bit of soot can reduce your stove’s heat output by up to 50%.
This can be a huge task at the end of winter. If you keep up a regular cleaning program during the cold season you will find it much easier and your pellet stove will work better. Most of the mechanical faults experienced with these appliances are related to dirt and grime.
If you are unsure about accessing the inner workings of your stove, get a professional to show you how to do it first.
Now your pellet stove is ready for its summer vacation. Are you?