Lighting a wood stove.

Heating your home with wood is no simple task. It is best to prepare a couple years ahead and be vigilant several times a day to maintain comfortable temperatures. With storage recommendations for the primary wood stock to be away from the the house, wood need to be brought to the house every several days.

Fire wood burns best when dry. The process takes about 2 years. Green or wet wood does not burn well and will create soot that quickly clogs up the chimney leading to hazards of chimney fires and added cleaning during the spring.

Depending on the size and type of wood stove you have, you will have to monitor the burn to avoid it being too hot or not hot enough. Regular filling and filling with the right size of wood is also important to control temperature and burn time. With gas or electric heat, the maintenance process is simple, just set the thermostat.

Before starting a fire, care must be taken ensure the space around the stove is safe to avoid causing fire to the accommodation. The wood stove should be WETT certified: it needs to be positioned sufficiently away from walls behind and beside it. Ideally these walls should also have a fire shield. The surface the stove sits on should also be fire resistant.

To start a fire, I like to create a trough with 2, 2-3 inch logs separated by 3-5 inches of space. In the space I would place a fire starter such as paper or kindling, splinters of wood. Living with a septic system, we avoid putting toilet paper that is not contaminated with feces into the toilet. We deposit it into a bin for garbage or used as a fire starter. Paper should be placed loosely in the trough. Large kindling of various sizes from half inch to one inch should be placed on top of the paper. 1-3 inch logs should then be placed on top of the kindling pile, supported by the logs forming the trough and without compressing the kindling pile. Ensure the chimney flute is open and light the paper.

Smoke should rise into the chimney. If fire is coming out of the stove, the flute is probably closed or the chimney is blocked.

If the kindling is compressed and air does not flow into the pile, the fire will have trouble starting.

Once lite, the door should be swung closed leaving a small gap for air flow. I do not like to leave the fire unattended when the door is not latched. It is important to be close by to monitor an open fire. The door should never be left wide open.

Allow the fire to establish and heat up to 200 degrees Celsius, above the inactive zone, before closing and latching the door. Close the flute when the fire reaches a 300 degree, 10% into the active zone.

Do not allow the fire to heat above 75% of the active zone.

For higher heat 2-3 inch diameter logs cut to the depth or width of the stove should be used. Smaller logs yield a greater surface area for burning. Care must be taken when small logs are used as the temperature can exceed the tolerance of the stove.

Do not allow the fire to heat above 75% of the active zone.

Add logs larger than 3 inches in diameter sustain a burn. Wood should be added to the stove once there is sufficient space and when the wood is a burning amber. Avoid adding wood during yellow flames.


December 2022
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