How to Clean a Wood Burning Stove

Written by rosemary rugnetta
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Many homes today use wood burning stoves as a means of heating their homes. Some use them occasionally to heat one room or to create a mood. Regardless of the reason for using a wood burning stove, it is vital to make sure that they are cleaned often and correctly. This is an important safety issue when using a wood burning stove. Follow these instructions on how to clean a wood burning stove to assure safe operation when in use.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small shovel
  • Small brush
  • Vacuum
  • Metal container with cover
  • #0000 sandpaper
  • Chimney brush
  • Ladder

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  1. 1

    Locate the catalytic combustor. It is located between the fire and the stove pipe. It should be inspected for ash that has accumulated from the burning wood. Remove the combustor and using a small brush, clean out the ash. Follow by vacuuming any remaining ash. Refer to your maintenance manual for specific model instructions regarding removal of the combustor. The catalytic combustor needs to be cleaned at least every 60 days.

  2. 2

    Using a small fireplace shovel, shovel the ashes out of the wood burning stove and place into a metal container that has a metal cover. Place the container outdoors on the ground and leave covered for at least 48 hours until ashes have gone out before disposing.

  3. 3

    If the wood burning stove has not been in use and is cool, use a vacuum to completely clean out the stove after removing the ashes.

  4. 4

    Using a fine sandpaper of 0000 grit, lightly sand the inside surface of the glass window. This will remove any residue that has built up on the glass.

  5. 5

    Use a ladder to climb up to the stove pipe. Inspect the exterior condition of the wood burning stove pipe. Remove any debris that is near or around the pipe. Keep the stove pipe clear of trees and branches.

  6. 6

    Use a chimney brush that fits the stove pipe to scrape the sides. Insert it into the pipe and brush up and down to remove any creosote build-up. Check with the flashlight to make sure the creosote has been brushed away.

  7. 7

    Return to the wood burning stove and clean the soot and creosote that has fallen into it. Again, use the stove shovel and vacuum cleaner to do this. Replace the damper.

Tips and warnings

  • If you use the wood burning stove to heat the home on a continuous basis, it may be necessary to replace the catalytic combustor every 4 to 5 years.
  • The more a wood burning stove is used, the more frequently it needs to be cleaned and maintained.
  • Use only seasoned, dry wood for burning. This will prevent excessive creosote build-up.
  • Some stove pipes can be removed for cleaning.
  • Do not clean a wood burning stove or chimney when it is hot.
  • Always place hot ashes into a metal container.
  • Do not keep combustible materials near a wood burning stove.
  • Remember safety first. Always have a fire extinguisher available.
  • Cleaning the stove pipe and flue can be tricky and most times is best handled by a professional chimney sweep. If you attempt to do this, first remove the damper plate. Refer to the manufacturer's manual for specific model instructions. Once removed, use a flash light to inspect the inside of the stove pipe checking for any type of nests or debris that has got inside.

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