Prepare Your Pellet Stove for Power Outages

Source: Eversource NH Twitter

The tail-end of winter this year has been a stressful and unpredictable one at times – especially for those in the northeast. Due to the increased risk of power outages during fluctuating weather patterns, it’s a good time to remind you about preparing your pellet stove for storms.

First – is your stove plugged directly into the outlet, or do you have 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. Be sure to check your manual for information on electrical recommendations.

Here are three ways to keep your pellet stove operating during a power outage:

  1. Power Inverter
    • This device converts low voltage from batteries into voltage your pellet stove can operate on. Make sure the inverter is a Pure Sine Wave inverter and is at least 1000w. The batteries must be Deep Cycle ones.
  2. Uninterruptible Power Supply
    • A UPS is an all-in-one option that contains batteries, a charger and what’s required to convert low voltage to mains voltage. These devices are typically only good for an hour or so of time – which can be used to safely shut down your pellet stove, or while getting your generator running.
  3. Generator Backup
    • Of course, a generator is a common solution for reinstating a home’s power during an outage. The type and size that’s right for you should be determined after some solid research.

If the power goes out while your pellet stove is operating, and you don’t have any backup system in place – the pellets won’t immediately stop burning…but the components controlling the heat distribution and circulation will cease. With no operating exhaust fan, your stove can fill with smoke which could leak into your home. You’ll need to carefully unplug everything and (unfortunately) open some windows until you can air out the room.

 

 

The 5 Questions Pellet Stove Technicians Answer Most

1. Should I do anything special when I turn off my stove for the summer?

Yes! Follow these steps to get your stove ready for its vacation:

Turn off your stove and unplug it. (You should have a surge protector.) Let it cool completely before you begin the process. Start by cleaning the glass with your heat-safe cleaning solvent and a soft cloth, like you have been doing through the heating season. Do NOT use any cleaning solvent with ammonia in it, because it can damage the glass.

Clean out the entire inside and within the hopper, to the best of your ability. If you have a stove vacuum, this will help make sure everything is removed. (Do NOT use a household vacuum because the fine ash can damage it). Or you can always rely on a trained stove technician to use his or her professional tools.

Read >> The 5 Tools You Need to Clean Your Stove Properly

Do NOT leave any wood pellets inside your stove – burned or unburned. Wood pellets are made of kiln-dried, fine wood fibers which will absorb any moisture. If you have moisture inside your stove, the leftover pellets will absorb it and can cause rust to form through the summer, which can create costly damage later. For this same reason, cleaning out all the ports and passages inside your stove is important for your stove’s health.

If you are unable to safely get inside the inner parts of your stove, and have never done so before, we do not recommend this without professional help. Not only are clean passages a best practice for when your stove is shut down, but also during the burning season as well. Make sure to check your owner’s manual for any suggestions that might be specific to your brand of pellet stove. For an extra precaution, schedule a summer cleaning/inspection by a trained pellet stove professional technician. 

Note: Cleancare Professional Cleanings are available through our trusted, certified pellet stove technicians in some regions. Give us a call at 1-800-PELLETS, or enter your zip code on our website to see if Cleancare is available in your area.

2. Do I really need to worry about creosote with my pellet stove?

Your wood burning appliance’s venting system carries out the substances produced when wood burns. As the hot substances flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs, which results in creosote residue sticking to the inner walls of the chimney.

Letting creosote accumulate can cause a house fire – which is (hopefully) common knowledge among wood-burners. Although pellet stoves generate significantly less burn residue due to the clean kiln-dried wood fibers in pellets, it’s still critically important to clean and inspect your stove thoroughly, as you would a firewood-burning system.

Here’s a very helpful guide on how to clean your pellet stove throughout the heating season, and the tools you should have: How to Clean Your Wood Pellet Stove in 20 Minutes

3. Why is my flame so weak?

Woodpellets.comIf your flame is weak, or “lazy”, you’re not experiencing the level of heat you should be getting. If it stays weak for an extended amount of time, your stove will likely just shut down. Causes for a smaller than usual flame are usually a part in need of replacement, incorrect air adjustments, or most common – an uncleaned/neglected pellet stove. 

Pellet stoves work off of pressurized air, which is drawn from the exhaust. Pet hair, dander, dust and lint are constantly sucked in. If all the passages within your stove haven’t been cleaned out, or your exhaust hasn’t been cleared of debris – air cannot circulate efficiently. Therefore, your flame will not be strong. Aside from occasional tired parts that need replacing, this is more commonly the answer to why you have a weak flame.

4. Should I be burning hardwood or softwood pellets?

Firewood burners prefer to use hardwood in their wood stove or fireplace, because it provides a longer burn compared to softwood due to wood density differences. However, regardless of the type of wood used to produce wood pellets, the pelletizing process produces pellets with the same density. Due to a higher percentage of resin content in softwood, more heat is produced per pound. Therefore, softwood pellets are typically the most popular among pellet stove owners.

5. Why am I getting so much ash?

Woodpellets.comCheck out the specifications on the wood pellets you’re purchasing, and look for the ash content listed. The higher the percentage, the more ash you’ll get, and the more frequent your cleanings will be. Higher quality pellets will have lower ash percentages, and therefore less maintenance.

On top of research, another great way to choose a fuel is by talking to your fellow pellet-burners to see what they’re using and why. Of course, you won’t know what you like for your home and your budget until you run your own tests. But if you’re buying the cheapest pellets with lower heat and higher ash specifications – you shouldn’t expect the same results as the higher quality options available.

 

Questions? Need to Place an Order for Premium Wood Pellets? Shop Online or Call 1-800-PELLETS to Speak to a Woodpellets.com Representative!

Ideas for Your Leftover Pellet Bags and Wood Pallets

Now that we’re in the final months of the 2017-18 heating season, you might have a pile of empty wood pellet bags and wood pallets around. Do you have pellets set aside that were damaged by water? Here’s why you shouldn’t just throw out water damaged wood pellets.

As for the empty bags – if you’d like to try and recycle them, check with your local transfer station to see what the protocol is. The wood pallets your fuel was delivered on could be handy to keep around for re-stacking pellets later, because the bags should never be placed directly on the floor in your storage area. But what if you wanted to “upcycle”, and reuse empty bags and pallets for something new?

Upcycling is the conversion of useless products back into something of value. It’s a great way to be both environmentally friendly and budget conscious. We’ve tested out many DIY projects, and gotten some great ideas from our customers. Here are some of our upcycling posts:

How to Make a Pallet Tarp Out of Wood Pellet Bags
How to Make a Pallet Tarp Out of Wood Pellet Bags

How to Make a Water Blob Out of Empty Pellet Bags

DIY Empty Wood Pellet Bag Jump Rope

Helpful Customer Ideas for Repurposing Wood Pallets
Helpful Customer Ideas for Repurposing Wooden Pallets

How to Make a Wood Pallet Christmas Tree

9 Wood Pallet Repurposing Projects to Try

Make DIY Goody Bags Using Empty Wood Pellet Bags
How to Make DIY Goody Bags Using Empty Wood Pellet Bags

How to Make an Empty Wood Pellet Bag into a Kite

Video: Easy DIY Wood Pallet Shelf

How to Spook Up Your Halloween Decor with Wood Pallets
How to Spook Up Your Decor Using Wood Pallets

Clearly there are so many ways to re-use what you might otherwise throw away. All you need is a little creativity, some time and (sometimes) a few tools. Do you have any ideas to share? Let us know on the Woodpellets.com Facebook page! 

A Portable Outdoor Heater, Powered by Wood Pellets!

This kickstarter campaign recently launched in order to fund the creation of a portable wood pellet fueled outdoor heater, which is easy to take apart and re-assemble. The inventors claim it provides double the heat of a propane heater, at 1/10th of the cost.

According to their website:

“The Q-Flame heater offers an efficient alternative to standard propane units making Q-Flame the sensible choice for those seeking the latest in outdoor heat. As a manufacturer of wood pellet stoves and patio heaters, QSTOVES INC. is dedicated to designing and developing new heaters and stoves that perform better than industry competitors and better for the environment.”

The Q-Flame may be used for outdoor activities, backyard party heat, or even as a helpful tool when the electricity goes out. It’s inexpensive to operate, uses no electricity, and is environmentally friendly. Could you see yourself using a product like this?

To learn more, or make a purchase, see their kickstarter page here: http://kck.st/2ERM8R5

 

The Effect of Snow on Wood Pellet Stoves

Pellet Stove Vent BlockageHeavy snow buildup can definitely affect your pellet stove’s venting and your burn experience. Wood pellet stoves operate through a system of air intake and exhaust. If this system is hindered by a blockage (or a gasket leak) proper combustion of the pellets can’t happen. Unlike wood stoves, pellet stove venting can be either horizontal, vertical or both.

One of the ways a pellet stove burn exhaust can be set up is horizontally, straight through the exterior wall. (See Fig. A) The exterior vent allows proper air flow within the stove, and the exhaust to escape. If it’s blocked by dense snow – your stove’s ability to ignite and/or stay burning efficiently could be hindered. If your wood pellets aren’t burning through fully – this blockage could be the reason. (See Fig. B) 

A similar kind of venting is through the wall with a vertical rise (Fig. C). Vertical piping raises the exhaust further up the exterior wall. This kind of setup holds less risk of snow blockage. However, strong snow drifts (or very high snow accumulation) can still create blockage.

Pellet stoves can also have exhaust vents exiting through the roof – with some variations (Fig. D). If your roof has heavy snow piled up that hasn’t slid off or been pushed off, the vent could be blocked. Make sure to check for blockage – no matter how your stove is vented.

A whole other way your burn experience can be affected by snow is through delivery obstacles. 

Our Woodpellets.com delivery trucks park on the street, and bring your pallets up your driveway with a forklift. Of course, there is nothing you can do about large snowbanks taking up space on the road, but you can make sure your driveway is plowed enough for our 8 foot wide forklift. This will help the driver make a successful delivery – and help you avoid delivery delays. 

Please let us know if you have any questions. Call 1-800-PELLETS to speak to an expert!

 

 

Black on Your Pellet Stove Glass?

If you’re experiencing blackened glass, it can most likely be fixed with one tweak. Your problem could be caused by a lack of air flow. Burning on too low of a setting can make your air-to-pellet ratio out of balance, which results in the build-up of creosote.

To make the proper changes, first take a look at your owner’s manual. This often overlooked resource is packed with helpful model-specific info, including how to properly adjust your settings and troubleshoot.

If your settings are correct, but you’re still experiencing problems – you might have a leak.  Wood pellet stoves operate through a system of air intake and exhaust.  The exhaust fan works to suck air out through the burn pot to cause combustion of the pellets, which is hindered by a leaky gasket. The most common air flow leak is through the door gasket.

It’s simple to test your door seal 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.

While you’re checking for air leaks, also think about your venting. Are the seals tight and properly cleaned? Is it the wrong size? If you’re still experiencing burn issues, you may want to consider a stove cleaning done by a professional.

If you purchased your wood pellets from Woodpellets.com, give us a call to speak to a Quality Control Manager at 1-800-PELLETS!

 

$50 for Every Referral!

Woodpellets.com Referral Program

Only through December 15th, you can get DOUBLE the Pelletbucks for you and the person you refer to Woodpellets.com!* For each successful referral, you will get $50 added to your account, and your friend will get $50 off their first order if it’s placed by December 15th!*

Once your friend’s first order is delivered, you will automatically be credited $50 for your next order. So, if you’re happy with our service, our products and our convenient delivery…share the pellet love!


Click Here for a Printable Sheet of Referral Cards! 

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Wood Pellet FAQS

Over one million homes in the United States use wood pellets as a heating source. Although pellet popularity is continually rising, there are still many frequent questions and misconceptions about heating with wood pellets. Below, we have compiled a list of the most common inquiries we hear from both new and existing pellet users.

Can I Store Wood Pellets Outside?

Wood Pellets Stored OutsideYes – as long as you take the necessary steps to protect them. You must inspect your pellets’ packaging carefully before preparing them for outside storage. To protect your pellets from water and from any birds or squirrels that may try to puncture the plastic, you’ll definitely need to fasten a tarp over your fuel. If your pellets are outside for a while – you’ll need to keep checking on it to make sure there hasn’t been any damage or extensive wear.

If you are a customer, and you find damage that has reached the actual wood pellets, call 1-800-PELLETS right away to speak with a Quality Assurance representative.  All Woodpellets.com Quality Certified fuels are backed by a Quality Guarantee, valid for 30 days after the delivery date.

See >> How to Keep Wood Pellets Safely Stored Outside 

Can I Use a Wood Pellet Stove as My Home’s Only Source of Heat?

Depending on the location of the stove and the size/efficiency of your home – yes. Some stoves can easily heat up to 2,500 square feet of space. A common practice is to put pellet stoves in parts of the house to create zone heat, but lightly use a central furnace as a back up. It’s especially common to use oil heating as a backup to pellets, for example, when the price of oil rises significantly.

How Much Does a Pellet Stove Cost?

A typical price for buying and professionally installing a pellet stove is around $2,500 to $3,000. Of course, this number will vary depending on where you live and the kind of stove you choose.

Do Pellet Stoves Require Professional Maintenance?

Most owner’s manuals suggest a comprehensive cleaning by a trained technician at least once a year. Some manuals even suggest a checkup after each ton of pellets is burned. Also, the mechanical and electric components that make up your pellet stove can eventually wear out and need repair or replacement – so a cleaning/check-up by a professional could help prevent a surprise part-malfunction.

Read >> Wood Pellet Stove Best Practices 

 How Many Bags of Pellets Should I Buy?

Woodpellets.com Driveway DeliveryThe amount of pellets you can expect to burn through in a heating season depends on the quality of the wood pellets and the efficiency of the stove – among other things. However, one bag of quality pellets will commonly provide a full day of good, steady heat.

The average residential wood pellet customer in the Northeast uses 150-200 bags of wood pellets throughout the entire heating season. There are 50 bags in one ton of pellets, so that’s 3-4 tons.

 Is Heating with Pellets Environmentally Friendly?

The carbon footprint of burning wood pellets can be completely neutral, or close to it. If the forests where the wood pellet raw material has been taken from are sustainably managed, the overall carbon footprint is drastically reduced in comparison with fossil fuel heat. A study by The Alliance for Green Heat and VU University Amsterdam revealed that heating with wood pellets can emit about one tenth the carbon as heating with oil.

Are There Additives in Wood Pellets?

No! Wood pellets are 100% natural. There are absolutely no binders or chemicals added to the wood fiber used to create pellets. Wood naturally contains a substance, lignin, that binds wood pellets in their tightly compacted, mostly uniform shape.

>> See: How Wood Pellets Are Made

Are Softwood Pellets Better than Hardwood Pellets?

Most firewood users prefer to burn hardwood in their wood stove or fireplace, because it provides a longer burn compared to softwood due to wood density differences. However, regardless of the type of wood used to produce wood pellets, the pelletizing process produces pellets with the same density. Softwood pellets are actually most sought after, due to a higher percentage of resin content in softwood, more heat is produced per pound.

For any questions we haven’t answered here – please give us a call at 1-800-PELLETS!

 

Safely Re-Stacking Bags of Wood Pellets Takes Patience and Technique

Whether you store your pellets inside a garage or outside, you might have enough space available to keep the pellet bags on the pallet just as they were delivered. If you only have a smaller space available, or if the placed dimensions are inconvenient to you, re-stacking the wood pellet bags by hand is how you can maximize limited space.

We successfully placed 3 whole tons of wood pellets (150 bags) in a 6 foot wide space using a very simple hand-stacking technique, described below.

Hand Stacking Wood Pellet Bags in a Small Space

Each layer of bags will be reversed in formation, but will have the same layout of 5 bags vertical and 4 bags horizontal. If you plan out your layer configurations ahead of time, it’ll make the whole process easier.

The five vertical bags fit the six foot width, but the 4 horizontal bags will need a bit of adjusting. You can push these bags a little closer together to get them to lay at the same width as the vertical bags.

The next layer is the same formation – but with the five bags in front and the four in back. With each bag placement, make sure to smooth out each bag to make a flatter surface for the next layer.

Seventeen of these 9-bag layers, beside the top layer of 6, will make up the full 3 tons of pellets.

Important Re-Stacking Tip

No matter how you’re formatting 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

Still need to order your wood pellets for this heating season? You can always order online at Woodpellets.com, or call 1-800 PELLETS to speak to an expert!

Wood Pellet Stove Best Practices and Troubleshooting

Wood Pellet Stove Best Practices and TroubleshootingFall is in full swing, and the upcoming winter has been predicted to be a cold and snowy one for the northeast. If you haven’t already fired up your pellet stove for the heating season, it’s likely that you will be soon.

Read: Farmers’ Almanac Releases Winter Weather 2017-18 Forecast

This time of year, we like to remind the wood pellet community about best practices and troubleshooting tips. Being an informed pellet stove owner makes it easier to have an safe and efficient heating season.

For starters, find your owner’s manual and read it. Every stove is different, so this is where you’ll find some of the best advice for your pellet stove. From proper maintenance, to best practices and warranty information – your manual is packed with model-specific information.

If your stove hasn’t had an extensive cleaning in some time – you should consider scheduling a professional appointment. Even if you prefer to manage cleaning yourself, a bonus of having a technician check-up is that he or she is able to check on all the stove parts that might need replacement or adjustment. Furthermore, an improperly kept stove can impact your burn quality, which can lead to some headaches later.

Read: What a Professional Wood Pellet Stove Cleaning Should Look Like

While we recommend a professional cleaning once or twice a year, thorough cleanings should also be done once or twice a month. If you have the right tools, it shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes to complete. A scraper, stiff brush and ash vacuum with special dust bags will make this task easier for you.

Read: How to Clean Your Pellet Stove Quickly and Correctly

High quality wood pellets will significantly improve your burn experience. Check out the specifications on the pellets you’re considering. Look at the ash percentage, and know that the higher the percentage, the more frequent your cleanings will need to be. Higher quality pellets will have lower ash percentages, and therefore less maintenance.

Even when burning the most premium wood pellets, your stove needs the right balance of feed rate, air flow, and heat settings to operate efficiently. If your settings aren’t properly synced, you could have issues.

Below is a quick reference guide on the most commonly experienced problems matched with their likely culprits.

The Problem The Likely Culprit The Solution
Poor burn quality Dirty stove Clean your stove according to your manufacturer’s recommendations.
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.

If you’re a Woodpellets.com customer experiencing burn issues…don’t worry. Our Quality Certified fuels are backed by a Quality Guarantee valid for a full 30 days after your delivery date. Learn more here: Woodpellets.com Quality Guarantee

Questions? Call 1-800-PELLETS to Speak to an Expert!

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