Inspecting your wood heating system before burning season is essential. A thorough inspection helps identify system maintenance needs and ensures a safe and efficient appliance through the winter months. Perform your own inspection and locate safety issues using the following tips:
Light a few small pieces of seasoned wood. If the smoke doesn’t exit straight up into the chimney and instead enters the room, you will need to troubleshoot your stove to correct potential problems. These issues can include things such as creosote buildup, debris in the chimney, or a closed damper.
Start your inspection indoors and look for the following:
- Damage to the floor or wall protection surrounding the stove
- Rust damage to the unit
- Smoke or leak stains on walls
- Worn gaskets in the stove
- Dirty or broken glass
- Non-functioning damper
- Damaged or dirty stove blower
Then, venture outdoors to continue your inspection noting any of the following:
- Loose bricks or damaged chimney structure
- Damaged flashing (metal barrier at roofline)
- Cracks or leaks on chimney crown
- A clogged or loose chimney cap and grate
- Stains or leaks down the flue or chimney pipe
- Visible creosote buildup
Most homeowners can take care of some of these issues on their own. Here are some helpful tips:
Check for worn gaskets: A visual examination can show obvious problems: Gaps between the ends, loose sections, tears, crystalized sections, or excessive fraying are signs that your gasket needs to be replaced. Another popular test is the “dollar bill test.” See detailed instructions on how to perform that test HERE.
Replace or clean glass: Dirty glass could indicate poor combustion or incomplete combustion, typically caused by burning wet or green wood. Cracked or chipped glass should be replaced. View tips on cleaning and/or replacing your glass HERE.
Cleaning your blower: If applicable, remove and clean your blower. A dirty blower can reduce the efficiency of the unit. See your owner’s manual for blower location and cleaning instructions or see our generalized instructions HERE.
Checking the chimney for blockages: If the chimney’s flue is not kept clean, your home is at risk every time you start a fire. See our guide on how to perform your own chimney check HERE.
Hearth experts recommend an annual inspection and routine maintenance. See your stove’s owner’s manual for specific manufacturer recommendations. If you do not feel comfortable performing your own inspection or cleaning, contact a certified professional service provider in your area.