Very popular for its many ecological, energy, economic, but also aesthetic and trendy advantages, the wood stove has succeeded in a few years to rise to the top of the essentials of new homes and renovations. Like any heating element, rigorous and regular maintenance of the stove will ensure that it operates optimally and in fact will ensure a better longevity. How to maintain it effectively? What obligations are incumbent on the occupant of the accommodation? Here are some tips to ensure you can safely enjoy your stove as the cooler nights arrive.
Mandatory annual maintenance
Yes, but by whom, and what does it consist of?
Maintaining your wood stove correctly guarantees efficient, long-lasting and safe combustion. An annual maintenance carried out by a qualified professional is mandatory. It must always be carried out at the same time, ideally at the end of summer before the start of the heating period, by a dealer or a professional chimney sweep with whom you can take out a maintenance contract. Ideally, this will be the company that installed the stove for best guarantee of results from a professional familiar with the appliance.
Annual maintenance consists of a complete check of the proper functioning of the device, the condition of the duct and any signs of deterioration such as leaks, deformations or cracks. Over time and repeated use, the flue may see the accumulation of bistre which is an accumulation of bad combustion waste (too humid wood, poor quality air inlet and outlet) which will form a residue solid until it clogs the flue and the walls of the stove. This phenomenon can cause a fire to start if the stove is not serviced annually.
Mandatory biannual sweeping
Twice a year, including once during its heating period, the wood stove must be swept, in addition to the annual maintenance. Sweeping consists of cleaning the smoke evacuation duct. It gives rise to a sweeping certificate which must be kept and sent to your insurer if a fire were to occur.
It should be remembered that regular checking of alarms and smoke detectors is essential to guarantee the safety of the occupants of the accommodation.
Do-it-yourself regular maintenance: heading towards good practices
These obligatory interventions by a professional do not exempt the occupant of the dwelling from providing for proper use of the stove and regular and diligent cleaning.
Clean the stove glass
Good first news, the pane of the stove can be cleaned (almost) without intervention, by the phenomenon of pyrolysis by exceeding 500°C of an intense fire. However, if a soot deposit is noted, passing a damp sheet of newspaper gently dipped in the remaining ash will work wonders. For the less convinced, special steel wool sponges for wood stoves or even ceramic glass cleaners are sold on the market and will also have their effect.
Clean the ash box or combustion chamber
Too much ash can hinder the access of air to the fire and thus not allow it to feed it sufficiently and smother it. Once or twice a month during the heating period, the ashes must be removed using a simple broom or an ash vacuum cleaner.
From time to time, easily accessible parts such as the hood and the upper and lower hot air grilles can also be cleaned for better air circulation in the passenger compartment. During the big cleaning at the end of winter, you will have to think about arming yourself with gloves and a mask so as not to breathe in toxic residues.
Clean the internal walls
Always with the same aim of maintaining ideal heating quality, the internal walls must also be cleaned regularly using a brush or brush.
It is also possible to carry out an additional sweeping by oneself in the middle of the season. To do this, it is best to spread a tarp around the device, or even more widely in the room because it is a very messy step. It will then be a question of opening the upper plate, cleaning the soot and cleaning the duct with a hedgehog brush.
Clean the outer walls
Be careful, the majority of wood stoves have a metal tank that can rust on contact with water. A simple non-damp soft cloth will suffice for cleaning the external walls. If it is already rusted, the affected part can be sanded with steel wool, sandpaper or an abrasive pad to give it a new look.
Tips for perfect use
Ensure the quality of the materials to be burned
The majority of wood stoves are designed to burn wood only. Exit waste or plastics. The quality of the wood put to burn is also essential. It is strongly recommended that you avoid burning chipboard, plywood, painted or treated wood, artificial logs or any other product containing lead, zinc or sulphur. Indeed, the combustion of the latter releases toxic chemical products which promote environmental pollution, further obstruct the flue of the stove, and expose the occupants of the dwelling to harmful gases.
Wood that is too wet is not a good fuel. It does not burn completely and thus creates deposits of soot and creosote which is a carcinogenic chemical agent. It is preferable to use wood that has dried well for at least 12 months. Split wood dries much better than a full log.
Ensure the quality of replacement materials
Over its lifetime, the stove will sometimes need a makeover. It is important not to skimp on the quality of spare parts (seals and others). Ideally, it is preferable to keep spare parts of the same brand as the original.
Make it short, but strong
A fire that smolders only with embers produces more smoke and therefore pollution. It is better to favor an intense fire.
In conclusion, a wood stove is an excellent general or complementary heating system, on the sole condition of careful and rigorous maintenance. Note that the wood stove is part of the list of energy improvement works eligible for state aid and subsidies.