Because pellet stoves are under constant use during the heating season, it is essential that a deep and thorough inspection be performed before the winter months. Pre-season maintenance and inspections will help to ensure that your stove is running efficiently and is ready to keep your family warm, and safe when it’s chilly outside.
Most potential issues can be identified during the start-up cycle of the stove. This can include issues such as the igniter not lighting, the blowers not turning on, a malfunctioning vacuum switch, or the snap discs not engaging at the correct temperatures. The start-up cycle typically lasts about 15 minutes after which you will be able to engage the controls and set the unit to run at your desired setting.
Should your stove operate without error through the start-up cycle, perform your own inspection to identify and locate potential safety or maintenance issues using the following tips:
Start your inspection indoors and look for the following:
- Smoke or leak stains on walls
- Worn gaskets in the stove
- Dirty or broken glass
- Damaged or dirty combustion/convection blower
- Full or clogged ash traps or drawer
- Dirty or clogged heat exchanger
- Soot buildup in the stove
- Clinkers or enlarged holes in the burn pot
Then, venture outdoors to continue your inspection noting any of the following:
- Loose or unsealed boot or wall thimble
- Clogged or loose chimney cap and grate
- Stains or leaks down the flue or pipe
- Visible creosote buildup
Most homeowners can clean the stove and 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 all signs that you need to replace your gasket. Another popular test is the “dollar bill test.” See detailed instructions on how to perform that test HERE.
Replace or clean glass: Dirty glass can indicate poor combustion caused by an exhaust restriction or an air leak due to a worn gasket or cracked glass. View tips on cleaning and/or replacing your glass HERE.
Cleaning your blowers: Remove and clean your blowers. 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 for convection blowers and HERE for combustion blowers.
Checking the chimney for blockages: If the chimney’s flue or the stove pipe 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.