Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Clean your Fireplace

Cleaning out a fireplace can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be.

What you need to get started cleaning:
Dish Washing Liquid
Fireplace Tool Set
Glass Cleaner
Paper Towels
Plastic Tarp
Rubber Gloves
Scrub Brush
Soft Cloth
Spray Bottle full of water
Trash can with a lid
Used Coffee Grounds
An apron or smock to keep your clothes clean
Something soft to kneel on to save your knees, optional but recommended.

How to Clean your Fireplace:
Be sure to allow your fireplace to cool for at least 24 hours after your last fire before you attempt to clean it.
Place your tarp in front of your fireplace, this will help you to catch ashes and keep the area around the fireplace clean.
Lay out your tarp in front of the fireplace to catch ashes, etc.

Remove your fireplace screen, leftover firewood, tinder, and the fireplace grate. Set these on your tarp.
Throw out any badly burnt firewood, if there is firewood that is still burnable you can keep it.
Used coffee grounds should be sprinkled over the ashes to keep them from blowing around and creating a larger mess.
Using your brush from your fireplace tool set, sweep out your fireplace starting at the top of each interior wall and work your way down and out.
Shovel the ashes into a pan and dump them into the trash or into your compost pile if you have one.
Sweep off your fireplace screen to remove any dirt and debris on it.

On the brick of your fireplace's exterior you will need to spray water onto any sooty areas. If your fireplace is less than 50 years old you can use a hearth cleaner, if it is older than that you will want to use only water. Scrub with your scrub brush, spray with more water than use your soft cloth to dry it. If your fireplace has an iron exterior you will spray it with hearth cleaner, rinse with water, and dry off with your paper towels. For marble, spray with water and wipe down with your dish washing liquid and soft cloth. Spray to rinse and dry with paper towels.
For fireplaces with glass doors, clean them with hearth cleaner, front and back, be sure to remove the cleaner before it dries. (You can also try the method we talked about previously in Wood Stove Glass Cleaning Tip we haven't tried this method ourselves yet, so use your own best judgement.)
Lay your fireplace tools on the tarp, spray with hearth cleaner and wipe clean with your paper towels.
Place your grate and still good firewood back into your fireplace.

Once you dispose of all the debris on your tarp you are officially finished with cleaning your fireplace.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Benefits of Pellet Stoves

We have discussed the benefits of wood stoves in the past. We thought it was time to look at the benefits of pellet stoves:
  • Easy to operate. 
  • Easy to fuel.
  • Doesn't produce smoke.
  • Higher combustion and heating efficiency than traditional wood stoves.
  • Lower fuel cost.
  • Wood pellets are made from recycled components making them more environmentally sound. 
  • Most are easier to clean than traditional wood stoves. 

There area few disadvantages to the pellet stove, one of those being that they use electricity to run, so they are not the best investment for a heating back up for power outages. However, some pellet stoves do come with a battery back up. But if the power is out for an extended period of time, there is the risk of the battery running down.

What do you consider an advantage to the pellet stove?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Basic Pellet Stove Tips

For those of you that are new to pellet stoves here are a few tips to help get you started:

Our first tip is a simple tip, but it is important. Be sure to read the owners/instruction manual that came with your pellet stove. As with any type of appliance instructions can vary between brands and models. If you have misplaced or cannot find your owner's manual then you will want to try contacting the company that manufactures the stove you own to see if they can mail you a copy or email a .pdf version of it.

The correct type of pellets can make a big difference in how efficient your pellet stove is. Pellet stoves do NOT use firewood like you would use in a wood stove. Instead, a pellet stove uses compressed pellets. These pellets are designed specifically to use in your pellet stove. Most of the pellets are wood compressed pellets, but there are other options for pellets such as waste paper pellets and grass pellets.

Before you use your pellet stove for the first time you will need to check that your stove pipes and venting meet your local building requirements. You want to do this to be sure that your set-up is safe to use. When you install your stove refer to your manufacturer's instructions. Make sure all your stove pipe seams are sealed properly. High temperature caulk or stove cement can be used to seal these seams. Be sure to use a type of stove cement that is recommended for stove pipe.

To start up your stove you will need to read your instructions as each pellet stove manufacturer configures their pellet stoves differently for the start up process. If you fail to follow your manufacturer's start-up instructions problems can be created with the pellet stove's operation. To shut off your stove you will need to use the controls to set the shut off for your unit. Do not unplug the stove to shut it down, the stove needs to cool down before it completely shuts itself off.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tips for Keeping Indoor Wood Stacks Clean

When toting wood into your home to keep on hand for those days when the weather is below freezing and you don't want to be outdoors anymore than you have to can cause quite a mess. Even the wood stack itself seems to be dirty some days. Sometimes it seems like wood chips can be found in nearly every nook and corner of your home. So how can we keep those wood stacks contained and as neat as possible?

One tip to help keep wood chips and dirt off of the floor and from being tracked around your home is to have a large boot tray setting underneath your firewood rack. This tray will catch everything that falls off of the wood, keeping it contained until you are ready to clean it up. Some people keep these wood chips to use as a fire starter helper.

Also be sure to check any wood for signs of bug infestation. These should either be put directly into the fire or not stored in your home. If you leave these pieces of wood in your firewood rack then you are inviting the bugs to warm up and spend the winter in your home.

What are your tips for keeping your indoor wood stack neat and tidy?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wood Stove Outlet Most Popular Posts 2012

While we welcome in a New Year in our offices we also celebrate the 2nd year anniversary of our blog. Our first post was on January 3rd of 2011. So in celebration of the New Year we would like to share with you our top 5 most read posts of 2012.
  1. How to Check Your Chimney
  2. Wood Stove Glass Cleaning Tip
  3. Wood Stove Chimney Connection
  4. Fireplace Cleaning
  5. Chimney & Fireplace Tips
It looks like our readers favored Chimney and Cleaning articles this past year. We would love to hear from you on what you would want to read on our blog in 2013. Just leave us a suggested topic in the comments below and we will see what we can come up with for our readers.

Hope you have a great 2013.

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