Pellet stoves and wood stoves need to be cleaned on a regular basis, this includes the venting too. When it comes to maintenance and cleaning of wood and pellet stoves, some folks do it better than others and some folks do it more often than others. It’s a good idea to pick one day, somewhere in the middle of the heating season to do an inspection and cleaning of the venting use don your wood or pellet stove.
I like to use the Super Bowl weekend as my routine weekend for this inspection of my own stove because the event happens every year and I know that I’m going to be home. This Sunday morning here’s what I’ll be doing to both my pellet stove and the wood stove out in the studio.
Here’s what I do. I Allow the wood stove to cool down and become room temperature the day before. The next morning I’ll clean out the stove. For the pellet stove, I turn it off and let it go to room temperature the morning of the cleaning. Before I get into cleaning the vent on either stove, I’m going to completely clean out the stove. For my wood stove, I remove the baffle to gain access into the chimney. It’s a good idea to have your vacuum running the stove during this process. Once the baffle is out, I can send my chimney brush up through the top of the stove and brush out the entire chimney, going back and forth with the brush is 2-3 foot increments until the brush gets to the top. I then retract the brush and all of the rods and reassemble the baffle and bricks win the stove. Using a mirror and a flashlight, I’ll give a visual inspection. If you are one of those folks who likes to get on the roof (and I’m not), you can place your vacuum in the stove and do all of the sweeping from the top too. You can finish up with a visual inspection by shining down a flashlight.
My chimney setup is all vertical on the wood stove, so inspecting it kind of easy. If you have any horizontal sections of pipe, as I do with the pellet stove, a bit more work is involved. All vertical sections of stove pipe or pellet venting should have a clean-out cap at the bottom. When you have horizontal sections if you do not have clean-out access…such a T mounted sideways, the venting needs to be taken apart so that you can get a visual inspection. What we are going for here is a clean pipe and a visual inspection to make sure it’s clean.
This process takes about 30 minutes on each stove when you go from the bottom to the top, maybe an hour if you actually climb around on the roof. If while you are doing the cleaning you find any creosote in the chimney, some scraping with a metal wire chimney brush may be needed or a professional may need to be called if whatever you are trying to remove is beyond your ability.
If you have a stainless liner in your system, do not use a metal wire brush to clean out the vent. It will get stuck.