Everyone loves that slow burn that allows you to wake up to a toasty house in the morning. The best way to achieve this is to stuff the wood burning stove full and limit the amount of air it can pull in to burn the wood for the night. Unfortunately, that is the ideal situation for creosote buildup as well. Any time the smoke traveling up your chimney is cooled to below 250 degrees Fahrenheit, it liquefies, combines, and solidifies, resulting in the formation of creosote.
Creosote builds up in layers and creates a very dangerous coating on the inside of the chimney and flue. Most of the time it appears shiny with few imperfections while other times it may appear rough and textured. Some homeowners don’t realize there is a creosote problem until they see it dripping into the back of their wood burning stove.
Reduce Creosote Buildup – Burn Hot
You don’t have to build a fire that makes metal pipes glow, but it should remain steadily at a temperature higher than 250F. The overall objective is to force the gases, particulates, and smoke that creates creosote out of the chimney. Heat is the best way to achieve this. Make sure that your fire burns hot enough so that the smoke leaving the chimney is at least 250F.
Always burn dry wood in your wood burning stove to help prevent condensation. Most wood has a natural amount of moisture content, regardless of how long it has seasoned. Make it your goal to burn wood with lower than 25% moisture content for best results. Hard woods often burn hotter than soft woods, so check out your options before purchasing your next load of wood. You may even want to purchase a moisture tester.
One of the best ways to test the efficiency of your wood burning stove is to purchase a stack thermometer. Make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions so you can make sure you’re getting a proper reading each time. Most require placement to be about 18 to 24 inches above the top of the stove, but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using something that could be so vital in burning the perfect fire.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
Don’t underestimate the importance of regular cleaning and maintenance for your chimney and wood burning stove. A once-yearly chimney inspection will give you peace of mind in knowing that your chimney is working as intended from season to season. Regular cleaning by a certified chimney sweep is your best defense against creosote buildup and many other potential problems that may occur inside your chimney.
Make sure to schedule your chimney inspection and cleaning on a date that you will remember each year. Some homeowners schedule appointments on New Years Day, May Day, or some other holiday that they will easily remember. Consider setting your appointment to the same day that you change your smoke alarm batteries.
When do you schedule your chimney inspection and cleaning? What date to you remember the best and why? I’d love to hear your ideas and methods! Leave a message below or feel free to send me an e-mail any time.