Essential Stove Maintenance Checklist
With the summer heatwave now a memory, it’s time to start preparing for the upcoming winter. You’re probably hankering to light up your solid fuel stove again after a few months of straight inactivity, so now is the perfect time to get on with some of that essential maintenance to make sure all is in good working order.
Following on from our last article – how to clean a woodburner – this time around we’re looking at the maintenance checks you should make before your stove settles in to work its demanding winter shift.
Why should I maintain my stove?
In order for your stove to work efficiently and safely, regular maintenance and servicing is vital. These checks aren’t particularly complicated, so if you set aside some time a few times a year, then it’s easy to keep your stove in good condition. If you’d rather have a professional do these checks for you, then make sure to find a reputable HETAS registered engineer.
Chimney: Your chimney will need a sweep and clean every year in order to remove any creosote or soot deposits. This is usually better left to a professional chimney sweeper – unless you have the time, patience and equipment to do this yourself.
Stove door: Check that the stove door, handle, hinges and glass are in good condition – i.e. no cracks, damage or loose hinges. It’s a good idea to clean the stove glass now as well, to improve visibility of the fire itself.
Rope seal: The rope seal is an important safety feature which helps to prevent harmful gases – such as carbon monoxide – leaking through the door and into your living space. Inspect the rope for any frays or to see if it’s come loose. If all looks good, shut the door and insert a piece of paper through the gap at the top. If the paper resists being pulled back, then the rope seal is in good condition; if it comes out easily, then the rope seal may need replacing.
Stove exterior: This should be a simple check – the bodywork itself shouldn’t require anything more than a light clean, assuming the stove was properly fitted and manufactured by reliable parties. If the paintwork has dulled, consider freshening it up and make sure to scrub away any signs of rust.
Stovepipe: Check that the stove pipe is still fitted securely and that the fire cement seal hasn’t cracked or worn off. The stovepipe will continually expand and extract as it heats up and cools down, so it can loosen the fire cement seal around the base after a while.
Fire bricks: For wood burning stoves, you’ll need to check your fire bricks to make sure they haven’t cracked under the intense heat inside the stove. Cracks are only something to worry about if the bodywork behind the bricks is at risk of damage from the heat. Many manufacturers recommend repairing light cracks with fire cement, so replacing your fire bricks may not be necessary – but it’s worth at least cleaning them before you move on.
Fire grate: Your fire grate is more prone to wear and tear than most other components. This is because of its constant exposure to heat and direct contact with the fuel you’re burning. Watch out for discolouration and cracks, and find a replacement quickly if yours shows signs of damage. If yours is okay, just give it a clean and put it back!
Ash pan: Thoroughly check that the ash pan is still robust and strong enough carry your ash deposits without having them leak out through cracks or splits. The handle and the handle slot is also worth checking, to make sure it still fits easily and securely.
Fuel: Last but least, make sure you have enough fuel to see you through the winter. Check your fuel storage containers to make sure any new fuel orders will have a secure home for the next few months, then look into the best fuel for your stove and your heating needs. For woodburners, dry wood is always recommended – or you can try smokeless eco briquettes. If it’s coal you usually use, why not try a smokeless alternative, such as anthracite or simple smokeless coal?
KG Smith & Sons (Coal Merchants UK) provide prompt solid fuel delivery throughout the country – with next day and emergency delivery available. We stock a wide variety of solid fuels, from dry firewood and briquettes to house coal and a range of smokeless fuels for maximum efficiency. If you need advice on the appropriate fuel for your stove, or want to arrange a delivery in time for the impending cold snap, simply contact our friendly team today.