As August ends, school starts back up and the temperatures begin to drop. This is the perfect time to be thinking about preparing your stove for the winter. It’s important to do this before the cold weather hits so you are ready for when it comes. Most of our stoves have been barely used—if at all—this summer. Before they start warming you the next coming months, we recommend giving them TLC.
Winter Stove Safety
Some things on our checklist are for your safety, so please make sure to read throughly before you light your stove up for the cool season. These checks are best done on a cold stove. Leave a vent open or door cracked when not in use to prevent moisture buildup. For owners of a Henley stove, we strongly advise you arrange an annual service with a HETAS/METAC approved fitter. They know the workings of stoves inside and out and will check all of the following areas.
1. Clean the Chimney
It is important to sweep your chimney, at least once a year, to get rid of tar and creosote buildup. These deposits will build up over a course of a season and reduce the efficiency of your stove. On top of this, unkept chimneys pose a fire hazard because the creosote is flammable and can also cause carbon monoxide to seep back into your home. Make sure to contact a chimney specialist for the job as it can get messy and they will know how to do it properly.
2. Check Your Stove
Make sure to inspect and clean your stove to ensure it is ready to be in top performance for the winter. Start with the inside, cleaning away all the ash and soot with a brush or even vacuum. Make sure all the air controls are clear and able to circulate air efficiently. When doing your cleaning, take out your fire grate and assess its condition. These get worn easily by the high temperatures they endure and are worth replacing before they crack or jam your stove.
While not required, cleaning the glass of your stove certainly gives it a new life. Part of your stove’s beauty is the little window that lets you enjoy the fire within. Consider using a stove glass cleaner to make your job easier, and do so only when the glass is cool. If you don’t want to go out of your way to purchase a stove glass cleaner, use damp newspaper or paper towel and dip it in the ashes to clean your window.
An important part of your stove to check is the stove rope. The rope runs around your stove’s door and creates an essential seal to keep in smoke and carbon monoxide. The seal also ensures the fire is fed from the designated air vents and not from the door, making a more controlled and efficient flame.
Ropes with obvious damage, like a fray or split, should be replaced. Ropes with no obvious damage should still be tested. To do this, put a piece of paper in the stove’s door and try and pull it out when it is shut. If it is easy to move or pull out, your rope needs to be replaced to keep that essential seal! Contact your local stockist to get the proper replacement parts.
With the interior taken care of, step back and check out the exterior of your stove. If you want to revitalise your hardworking stove, give it a touch of paint. Any potential spots of rust can be done away with a wire brush or steel wool. Finish your touchups with heat resistant paint or polish to restore the shine.
It is worth checking your stove pipe, too. The metal of the stove and pipe will expand and contract with the heat, and can potentially loosen your fire cement. Fire cement that has cracked or even fallen out is quite common. Simply re-cement the joints with fire cement and let it set.
3. Repair Firebricks
Your firebricks are more than decoration—they protect your stove and surroundings from excessive heat. Check this area for broken or missing bricks. Any minor cracks or chips can be fixed with your trusty fire cement, anything more needs to be fully replaced.
4. Use Proper Fuel
Your stove will only be as good as the fuel you put in it. Stay away from damp wood, this produces more smoke and buildup on your glass and chimney. Wet wood does not have a high heat output; instead, use seasoned wood that has been dried for a better burn. Finally, do not burn garbage, plastics, treated wood, or cleaning agents in your house. These can emit harmful fumes and increase chimney deposits.
A useful tool you can use to ensure your stove is burning at optimal efficiency, is a stove thermometer. This is attached to the pipe and measures the heat being produced. Check your thermometer to avoid over firing your stove and maximise efficiency.
5. Check Your Alarms
Last but not least, make sure your fire and carbon monoxide sectors are up to snuff. Make sure to check and test your alarms regularly to ensure they are working. Not all homes have a carbon monoxide tester, but it is advisable to install one, especially when you have a wood burning appliance.