Wood Pellet Stove Safety Overview

Two house fires in New Hampshire within a month have been linked to wood pellet stoves. One of the fires was found to have started by a faulty pellet stove chimney, which devastated most of the home and injured four firefighters. The damage done by the other recent fire was less significant but was also pellet stove related – starting due to an improper installation.

Read >> Pellet Stove Blamed for Small Fire at Manchester Home

Read >> Investigator: Seventh Street Fire Caused by Pellet Stove Chimney

Unfortunate accidents like this should serve as a general reminder about wood pellet stove safety. Make sure to read your manual to better understand your stove through the model-specific information.

Proper precautions start with the installation – which should be completed by a trained stove technician. Even with a perfectly executed setup, however, your stove’s performance and safety can be hindered by blockage.

Wood pellet stoves operate through a system of air intake and exhaust. If this system is hindered by snow and/or leaf buildup outside, or burn residue inside, proper combustion of the pellets can’t happen. Unlike wood stoves, pellet stove venting can be either horizontal, vertical or both – so make sure you know where potential blockages could occur.

See Figure >> Pellet Stove Vent Blockage

While wood pellets burn far cleaner and with less residue than firewood in a wood stove, creosote accumulates with any wood-burning. Therefore, we strongly recommend a thorough professional cleaning at the beginning or end of each heating season.

In addition to an annual visit from a professional, you should also be cleaning your stove throughout the winter. The frequency of your cleanings will depend on the type of wood pellets you’re burning and how much ash builds up.

In order to get the most out of your time, it’s critical to have the right tools for the job. For a productive DIY cleaning, we recommend using a metal scraper, a sturdy brush, a flashlight, ash vacuum with the right filter and dust protection.

Finally, be sure to use a surge protector. Most modern pellet stoves have a circuit board that can be damaged without protection from even small electrical surges caused by power outages. Refer to your manual for information on electrical recommendations.

Read >> Prepare Your Pellet Stove for Power Outages

 

Use Different Wood Pellets Throughout the Season to Burn Strategically

The demand for wood pellets made from douglas fir wood fiber has been increasing in recent years, regardless of the higher price tag. These pellets have a significantly low ash content and a super hot heat output, making for an impressive burn experience.

See Chart >> Dry BTU Values by Wood Type

Pellets with a lower heat output are typically less expensive, while the ultra premium douglas fir wood pellets are far pricier. Many of our customers have been ordering multiple types of pellets for the heating season to coincide with the weather (saving the douglas fir wood pellets for the coldest parts of winter) which is a growing trend we refer to as “burning strategically”.

Average Monthly Temperatures in New England - Suggested Wood Pellet Burn Strategy

The above chart shows an example of a common Woodpellets.com customer strategy. He or she starts the season with Cleanfire Hardwood or Pacific, moving into Cleanfire Pacific as the temperature decreases, then burning Cleanfire Douglas Fir for the lowest temperature stretch, only to ease back into Pacific and/or Hardwood to finish out the heating season. The heat outputs coincide with the temperature, and the pricing is easier on the wallet for sure.

Do you want to incorporate Douglas Fir pellets into your burn schedule? Call 1-800-PELLETS to speak to an expert, or shop online at Woodpellets.com any time.

Christmas Tree Removal Using Wood Pellet Delivery Plastic Cover

Use the shroud cover from your ton of wood pellets as a Christmas tree clean-up tool!You can always re-use empty pellet bags and wood pallets for DIY projects – but what about the shroud that comes wrapped around your pellet delivery? It can come in really handy this time of year.

Hauling out the Christmas tree after the holidays can be a messy, arduous task. On top of being repeatedly poked with sharp branches, the dried out needles get absolutely everywhere. With a little tweak ahead of time, you can avoid this headache.

Simply position the shroud on the floor where the tree will go, and roll up the sides in order to hide it under the tree skirt. When you’re ready to take the tree out – you’ll have this heavy plastic in place to help. Simply unfurl the shroud up and around the tree to cover and secure it for removal!

Happy Heating!

A Look at the Current State of the U.S. Wood Pellet Industry

As a year-round wood pellet retailer, we’re always seeing fluctuations in pricing and supply/demand through the seasons. However, the beginning of the 2018-’19 heating season has its fair share of complications.

These setbacks have affected a significant number of pellet stove owners throughout the states – understandably resulting in many questions.

While we are hesitant to use the phrase “wood pellet shortage” – we are concerned with the increasingly tight supply of pellets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the ability for pellet mills to meet a growing demand.

Here are some main factors contributing to the current state of wood pellet supply:

  1. The industry has been struck with a series of catastrophic fires that have crippled some large pellet mills from producing pellet fuel. The sudden removal of these suppliers has forced many retailers to scramble for alternative sources.
  2. Many pellet mills have had great difficulty building necessary inventory levels due to this year’s weather. Last year’s winter stretched far into spring, depleting much of the inventory normally built up over the summer. Furthermore,  with the record wet fall and extremely cold November, many mills have ended up with a historically low level of inventory.
  3. Transportation has become more and more expensive and limited due to a growing shortage of qualified CDLA drivers, as well as strict new government regulations on hours of service via Electronic Log Devices. This technology – which is designed to enforce limits on driving time without breaks – has not only pushed many seasoned drivers to quit, but also reduces the number of trucks available overall. All of this significantly affects pellet suppliers trying to move wood pellets to where they’re needed.
  4. The price of heating oil always makes an impact on wood pellet demand. When heating oil costs increase, like this year, many pellet stove owners switch back to relying predominantly on pellet fuel. Combined with the rising pellet stove sale rates, this equates to a tremendous amount of new demand for wood pellets this year.

All of these factors have made the wood pellet market tight, and it’s possible this may worsen as we get into winter. However – any number of variables can dramatically change the state of this industry. A milder than expected winter; a dramatic drop in the price of heating oil; or a slowdown in the economy can all directly impact wood pellet availability. That being said, the risk of supply disruptions this winter is still significantly higher than in prior years.

If you haven’t secured your fuel for the winter, or think you didn’t order enough to safely last the entire season, you should do so immediately. While there are still many retailers selling pellets (including ourselves in certain regions) we cannot be certain on how long the availability will last.

For those who remember the winter of 2014, pellet shortages can occur very quickly and without much warning. The wood pellet market is in a delicate state and vulnerable to supply disruptions – which is why we strongly recommend you secure your pellet fuel while you still have the opportunity.

Keep This Tip in Mind When Re-Stacking Your Wood Pellet Bags

Woodpellets.com Customer Re-Stacking Techniques

Many folks don’t have the space to keep their wood pellet fuel stacked on pallets as delivered. Although storing wood pellets outside is possible and very common, we’ve noticed our customers often have our delivery drivers place the skids near an entrance to the house for re-stacking inside.

Read >> How to Keep Wood Pellets Stored Safely Outside 

Read >> Customer Tip: How to Easily Move Pellet Bags into the Basement 

Regardless of how you’re stacking the bags within your space, be sure to maneuver the bags in your front row to build up more bulk. This bag molding method makes the front row a little taller, making the stack lean a bit towards the wall as you layer up. This will help prevent an unfortunate (and potentially dangerous) toppling of your bags. See the photos below, provided to us by a customer with his warning of “Don’t shortcut” during your stacking.

Pellet Bag Re-Stacking

 

Wood Pellet Stove Troubleshooting Guide

Since every pellet stove is different, some of the best advice can be found in your stove manual. Whether you’re burning pellets for the first time in a new stove, firing up your system at the start of a new season, or switching to a new brand of pellets, this quick reference guide for troubleshooting some common burn quality issues should come in handy.

The Problem The Likely Culprit The Solution
Poor burn quality Dirty stove Clean your stove according to your manufacturer’s recommendations, or schedule a professional cleaning.
Blackened glass Burning on ‘low’ Adjust heat setting to medium or medium/high.
Excessive clinkers Airflow leak Clean all vents, check and repair/replace all gaskets, adjust damper or airflow setting.
Trouble igniting Air-to-pellet ratio Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by increasing air flow.
Lazy or small flame Air-to-pellet ratio Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by increasing air flow and/or decreasing feed rate.
Low heat output Air-to-pellet ratio Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by increasing air flow and/or increasing feed rate.
Sparks flying / embers in the ash pot Air-to-pellet ratio Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by decreasing air flow and/or decreasing feed rate.
Whole, charred pellets left in the burn pot Air-to-pellet ratio Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by decreasing air flow and/or decreasing feed rate.
Auger jamming / stove shutting down Long pellets Drop bags on the floor – this can break long pellets into a manageable length.
Excessive ash build up / whole, charred pellets in burn pot Short pellets Reduce feed rate.

As you can see, many burn issues are directly related to your stove’s airflow. If you have reviewed your owner’s manual to make the proper settings adjustments, but you’re still experiencing problems…you might have a leak. Wood pellet stoves operate through a system of air intake and exhaust, and the exhaust fan sucks air out through the burn pot to cause combustion of the pellets. It’s important to inspect your venting setup to see if it’s properly sealed, but it’s more likely the leak is through your door gasket.

It’s simple to test the door seal efficiency with a dollar bill. While holding on to one end of the bill, insert the other side into the door, and shut it. Pull out the dollar while the door is still shut, and note the resistance. You shouldn’t be able to remove the bill without a good amount of resistance. Repeat this method all around your door to check the full effectiveness of your gasket.

 

Please call 1-800-PELLETS if you have any concerns with the quality of your Woodpellets.com fuel. Learn about our Quality Guarantee, here.

Farmers’ Almanac Thanksgiving Forecast

Here’s the Farmers’ Almanac Official Thanksgiving weather forecast for the Northeast and New England on Thursday, November 22 through Sunday, November 25:

New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. will experience wet conditions that may linger in most of the area (especially in New England) but the weekend should be fair.

See the full forecast here: Thanksgiving Weather Forecast

New York State Thruway, South of Buffalo. Photo by NYS Police.

The Farmers Almanac has also put together an overview of history’s storms that wreaked havoc on Thanksgiving events and travel, including the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950, Chicago’s White Thanksgiving in 1975, Denver’s Turkey Day Blizzard in 1983, New York City’s White Thanksgiving in 1989 and the Lake Effect “Snowvember” Storm in 2014

 

See the full list here: Historic Thanksgiving Storms

Is a Garage Delivery of Wood Pellets Right for Me?


The Woodpellets.com Premier Delivery option involves the use of a pallet jack. This special tool is a hand-operated machine that lifts heavy pallets, allowing delivery drivers to pull skids of fuel over flat, smooth surfaces like a cement floor.

Because of their maneuverability and small size, pallet jacks give you greater flexibility than forklifts to place pallets exactly where you need them.

To see if a pallet jack delivery is an option in your area, call 1-800-PELLETS or visit Woodpellets.com for a free quote!

Customer Tip: How to Quickly Move Wood Pellet Bags into the Basement

Wood Pellet Bag Slide Idea

We love how inventive our customers are! Steve of Massachusetts explained,

“I store my pellets in my basement and for a couple years, me and my family would carry 2-3 tons from the driveway, through the kitchen and down the cellar stairs and pile them on pallets. Then I had an idea. I built a slide on the stairs made of 2X4’s and aluminum flashing. We now do 3 tons in under an hour. Two carry and slide them down the stairs and one in the basement stacking!”

Read more

Wood Pellet Home Delivery: The Details

Every year, we hold a pre-peak season delivery meeting to make sure we’re equipped to make our customers happy. It’s great to get everyone together in one place, but even better to go over the whole delivery process as a team. In order to make your Woodpellets.com home delivery as smooth as possible – we thought it’d be helpful to share an overall guide.

The more information you provide, the better. Does your road have heavy construction going on? Is your driveway hard to find? Does your address not come up on GPS? If our drivers know ahead of time what to be prepared for, we can better serve you. It’s better to be up front about any tricky circumstances especially, so the delivery team can do all that’s possible to find a solution ahead of time.

Wood Pellet DeliveryThe forklift is bigger than you may realize. It’s actually over 8 feet wide, and the highest point is also 8 feet tall. It’s mounted on the back of the truck, which parks in the road. The driver lowers it down to the ground, uses it to remove your fuel from the truck, and then drives it up your driveway to place the pallets where you need them. Due to the heavy weight of the load and the forklift itself, it can’t be driven across any leach fields, sprinkler lines, or soft lawn. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding where to have your pallets of fuel placed!

Communication is key! Our delivery team will send you an email, text your phone, and/or call you (whichever way you’ve indicated you prefer) to confirm your delivery. Also, sometimes we reach out ahead of time to confirm your delivery instructions or to get clarification on something. If you get a message requesting a call or email back from our team, please don’t forget to do so! Depending on the information we require from you, we probably won’t be able to schedule a delivery if there are unanswered questions pending.

Woodpellets.comIf you have a very specific placement requirement, mark it. Many driveway deliveries have instructions like this: “Please place pallets in front of the garage door”. This is vague, usually because the customer wants the pallets near the door, so he or she can bring the bags inside to hand-stack. On the other hand, if you want a much more specific location for placement, mark the space with a sign, or an overturned trashcan, and let us know your indicator. Our driver will do everything possible to safely deliver your pallets where you want them.

The forklift’s path must be clear. Forgetting to move cars out of the way is a common mistake, and one that can really make for a more difficult delivery. Keeping a clear path (at least 8 feet wide, including any turns) for the driver is important, not only for saving time – but for protecting your belongings. Our drivers are very careful and skilled, but as we mentioned before, the forklift is pretty bulky and difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.

Note: Moving cars, toys, and equipment out of the way is important – but so is getting kids and pets out of the area! Keeping children and any pets inside during delivery is very helpful to the driver. There are already many variables to think about during a delivery, so avoiding the addition of small running bodies to the mix is crucial.

You don’t actually have to be home. If your schedule isn’t meshing with ours, it’s totally fine. As long as your instructions are clear (see above) and you let us know exactly where you’d like your fuel (see below), our driver can handle it in most situations without your physical presence. We also have your contact information in case something comes up, of course.

Note: Garage deliveries often involve the customer being at home, to open the door to allow the pallet jack to place the fuel inside. However, many customers are fine with leaving the garage door open if they can’t be home at the time of delivery. It’s all about whatever you are comfortable with! 

Regarding garage delivery: Are we able to move around in the garage for your Premier Delivery? Now that you’ve cleared your driveway for our equipment, have you cleared a path in the garage for the pallet jack? This is another overlooked step at times, unfortunately. The pallet jack, while smaller than the forklift, is still a heavy-duty piece of equipment, moving a 4-foot wide pallet of fuel. Make sure all the stuff that tends to accumulate in the garage is cleared out of the path of your fuel’s final destination. See our quick video below, which shows a Premier Delivery in action!

We are always happy to answer any questions you might have. Please give us a call at 1-800-PELLETS to speak to a pellet expert, or visit our website at www.Woodpellets.com for more information. We hope this guide on home delivery has been helpful!

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