Many Michigan residents, particularly in the U.P., use wood stoves. They are charming, efficient, and must be operated properly and maintained to ensure safety. For example:
Ventilation: Ninety percent of all stove-related fires originate within the venting system. A venting system is not a chimney —it consists of lengths of 24-gauge or heavier stovepipe which connects the stove to a chimney. The vent must be as short as possible, with no more than two right angle elbows. Stovepipe clearance must never pass through an interior wall, floor, or ceiling. Since stovepipe elements rust, it should never be used for a chimney. Where possible, the stovepipe must go directly into a lined masonry or UL-listed, factory-built chimney. If stovepipe must pass through an exterior wall to reach the chimney, maintain minimum clearance to all combustibles. Use metal thimbles designed for this purpose. Always consult fire codes and building codes to ensure safe installation and operation of your stove.
Hardwood Fuel: Hardwoods (oak, maple, beech, ash, hickory) remain the best fuels for a wood stove. Wood should be cut, split and air-dried for at least a year before burning. Well-seasoned hardwood will show cracks in the ends.
Clean it at least once a year: A wire brush is an ideal tool. Occasionally use controlled, high-temperature fires in the stove or furnace. Don’t use salt-based chemical cleaners. Note: Don’t use chains, bricks or a brush on the end of a rope because they could seriously damage your chimney’s interior lining.
Remove Creosote: A slow-burning fire like those found in a modern, airtight stove damped way down, produces a flue temperature of about 100-200 F degrees. These temperatures do not sufficiently carry all of the unburned, combustible gases into the atmosphere. Instead, they condense along the walls of the stovepipe and chimney as creosote. Creosote takes several forms:
A sticky liquid that will run down the chimney and stove pipe where it will be burned.
A flaky, black deposit which is easily removed by brushing.
A hard, glazed tar which is almost impossible to remove, except by a certified chimney sweep.
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