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!

Inaugural National Clean Energy Week Includes Biomass

NationalCleanEnergyWeek

The first National Clean Energy Week, a forum striving to encourage support of the United States’ energy sector through technological innovation and policy change, is taking place the week of September 25-29. According to the organization’s website:

Across America, clean and readily abundant forms of energy are powering more than homes and businesses. Taken together, our capacity for safe and reliable energy generation is driving a clean energy renaissance that is creating jobs, strengthening America’s national security, and preserving our environment.

Wind and solar energy have long been the power-houses of renewables. While the carbon neutrality of biomass (organic materials used for energy) has been debated, studies show significant carbon benefits can be achieved through the use of organic residue based biomass in power generation facilities. Additionally, the collection of forest waste for use is essential to responsible forest management. Unlike living trees that draw carbon from the atmosphere – dead tree leftovers release carbon into the atmosphere.

This past spring, the House Appropriations Committee voted to officially designate biomass as carbon neutral. The FY2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill directed U.S. government energy leaders to recognize the benefits of using forest biomass for energy creation and forest management.

The biomass power industry removes over 68.8 million tons of forest debris annually, improving forest health and dramatically reducing the risk of forest fires. In addition, the biomass industry diverts millions of tons of waste material from landfills and open burns. Biomass power plants also eliminate the need for frequent open burns of agricultural waste and forest slash, while continuing to offset the use fossil fuels that produce smog and acid rain.

nationalcleanenergyweek.org

Biomass power will be highlighted alongside energy sources including solar, geothermal, wind and hydropower during the National Clean Energy Week forum in Washington D.C. Click here if you’d like to learn more and get involved!

Study Shows Carbon Savings from Forest Residue-Based Power

Slash piles, consisting of tree tops and limbs left by the logging and timber industry

Source: Biomass Magazine

A recent study commissioned by the Biomass Power Association (an organization representing 80 biomass power plants across the U.S.) compared the carbon intensity of a forest residue biomass power facility in New Hampshire to that of a combined cycle natural gas facility.

Dr. Madhu Khanna (of the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural/Consumer Economics) and Dr. Puneet Dwivedi (of the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources) found significant carbon benefits can be achieved through the use of organic residue based biomass instead of natural gas in power generation facilities.

The results showed immediate carbon savings of 115%, and 98% carbon savings over 100 years.

This “forest residue” is the leftover matter from harvesting wood fiber in a managed forest for paper mills and lumber mills. The leftovers include tops, limbs and other forestry byproducts are generated regardless of being used for power or just left to decay. If it’s not collected and used as biomass power, it will typically remain in the forest in slash piles – which are isolated piles burned safely in order to keep forests healthy. This kind of forest management is important, because unlike living trees that draw carbon from the atmosphere – dead tree leftovers release carbon into the atmosphere.

“The avoidance of carbon and methane emissions by removing from the forest and using materials that decay results in a significant GHG reduction over time. While the decay of these materials releases small amounts of methane consistently over time, the methane gas has a 21 times higher global warming impact on the climate than carbon dioxide. Even a small amount of avoided methane release can substantially increase the near term benefits of removing harvesting residues and using them for electricity generation instead of leaving them in the forest and continuing to burn natural gas for electricity.”

-Case Study: Carbon Intensity of Harvesting Residue-Based Electricity

The decay rate of forest biomass, the carbon/methane emissions that would have occurred if the organic leftovers stayed on the forest floor, and the incidental carbon emissions incurred during the harvesting/chipping/transportation process were all factors taken into account during the study.

Interested in learning more? Check out the full study, here.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Just Throw Out Water Damaged Wood Pellets

Woodpellets.comAs you probably know, wood pellets turn to sawdust when water is applied, because they absorb moisture immediately and return to the original state of clean wood fiber. Did you have some packaging damage that let in some snow or rain – and now you have leftover sawdust? Don’t throw it out, because you can put it to good use! Here are some of the ways wood pellets can come in handy – aside from heating.

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Mix and Match Your Wood Pellet and Wood Bricks Purchase!

Although we rolled out our improved online shopping cart a couple of years ago, we’re still getting surprised reactions from customers about it. Did you know that you can select multiple products to add to your purchase when ordering from Woodpellets.com, both by phone and online? If you’re speaking to one of our experts by phone, just ask him or her about adding another type of fuel to your order.

Woodpellets.com Shopping CartIf you’re shopping online, simply select your desired brand and the number of tons you’d like from your zip code’s gallery. Once it’s added to your cart, select the Continue Shopping button that will appear on a pop-up box. This will bring you back to the gallery, where you can select another type of fuel. Continue this until you’re ready to view your cart, make any changes, select your delivery type and check out.

Why is this mix and match by the ton option important? Well, you might want to set up a
strategic burning strategy for the next heating season. If you have been burning hardwood pellets, you might be curious about upgrading to softwood. Or, you might want to try something new. Perhaps you already burn softwood pellets, but you’re thinking about burning a softwood with a higher heat output during those extra cold months. Comparing your burning and heating experience with different types of wood pellets will help take care of those pellet curiosities.

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NY Horse Rescue Puts Wood Pellet Bedding to Good Use

Did you know that softwood pellets can be used as horse bedding? Horse bedding is used in stalls to absorb urine and moisture, and is a necessary part of properly maintaining clean stalls. Wood shavings are commonly used, but softwood pellet bedding is becoming popular among experienced horse and stable owners. Earlier this month, Woodpellets.com was proud to donate Cleanfire Pacific wood pellets to the NY-based nonprofit, Lucky Orphans Horse Rescue.

Read: How to Prepare Softwood Pellets as Horse Bedding

Five years ago, Deanna Mancuso founded the LOHR in order to provide a sanctuary for unwanted, abused and neglected horses. But the mission of her team goes beyond rescue, rehabilitation and care – because the horses go on to help people.  Lucky Orphans’ EAGALA certified team offers Equine Assisted Psychotherapy for those struggling with PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental or emotional struggles. Deanna explained, “Donations like these wood pellets are really a donation to the community, because you’re helping the horses that are serving such a huge purpose in the community”.

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An Informed Wood Pellet Burner is a Successful Wood Pellet Burner

Wood Pellet Colors
If you purchased the pellet stove in your home, you probably did a lot of research by reading reviews, comparing prices, learning about available features, and so on. How much do you look into pellets before you make a purchase? It’s a good idea to check out the brand’s heat and ash specifications before you buy. The higher the ash percentage, the more leftover ash you’ll experience – which correlates to how frequent your cleanings will be. Higher quality pellets have lower ash percentages, which means less maintenance for you. As for the heat output, the higher the BTU/lb number, the hotter the burn of course.

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Why Wood Pellets Made of Douglas Fir are So Popular

The popularity of 100% douglas fir wood pellets has been spreading rapidly in recent years. What makes them so special? Well, so say the high heat out and low ash levels are impressive would be an understatement. These softwood pellets are made from 100% douglas fir wood fibers – which is one of the hottest burning wood species in North America. Check out this chart showing the relative heat output (as measured by BTU/lb) from various wood species.

Wood BTU Comparison Chart

In addition to their superior heating ability, wood pellets comprised of 100% douglas fir create 2-3 times less ash than your average premium grade pellets. Ash levels this low provide a huge advantage in how often you must clean your stove or fiddle with your burn pot.

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United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization Published

U.S.-Mid-Century-Strategy-for-Deep-DecarbonizationThe White House has just released the United States Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization, a national U.S. strategy to decarbonize the economy over the next 34 years.

This report spans over 100 pages, and details the 2050 vision of economy-wide net greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 80 percent or more below 2005 levels. The White House explains:

“The MCS demonstrates how the United States can meet the growing demands on its energy system and lands while achieving a low-emissions pathway, maintaining a thriving economy, and ensuring a just transition for Americans whose livelihoods are connected to fossil fuel production and use,”

Read more

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