Much like other heating fuels, firewood pricing fluctuates based on supply and demand, among other market forces. The price of a cord of wood throughout the Northeast started to climb substantially in late 2015, and shortages rattled the industry. Experts have blamed large-scale construction projects as part of the problem.
1. Read the manual that came with your stove. According to Jason Tardiff of J&L Chimney Works in NH, this is the number one thing stove technicians wish customers would take seriously. He explains; “Most of the time, the answer to the problem lies in the pages of their owner’s manual.” From proper stove maintenance, to best practices and warranty information – the manual is packed with model-specific information, and it’s very often overlooked.
2. Don’t be so quick to blame the pellets. If your stove isn’t igniting, if you have a weak flame, or your pellets won’t stay lit, the fuel shouldn’t be your first thought. When was the last time you had your stove professionally cleaned? If you do it yourself, are you really getting to all the parts that need attention? Your pellet stove works off of pressurized air which is drawn from the exhaust. Have you cleaned all those passages? Is your exhaust clear of debris? Jason describes his years of discoveries: “The exhaust pulls in anything that’s in the air – so pet hair, dander, dust and lint are constantly sucked in. And as far as the auger goes, items left on the stove can fall and work their way in. I’ve found spoons and G.I Joes crammed in there.”
To summarize – in addition to the general responsible cleaning owners should be doing, a professional cleaning twice a year is definitely a best practice. Think of it like your dental health and your dentist. You clean your own teeth every day, but it’s still good to go to the dentist every six months for professional attention.
>> Read about the most common pellet stove problems
3. Your pellet stove needs a surge protector. You should not be plugging your stove directly into the wall. Furthermore, you need to know the difference between a power strip and an actual 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.
4. Don’t burn low quality pellets and expect great results. Check out the specifications on the wood pellets you’re purchasing. Look at the ash content listed, and know that the higher the percentage, 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.
5. Buy low-moisture firewood for your wood stove. Switching gears to wood stoves and fireplaces – the firewood you choose to burn is important. Jason explains, “No noise is good when burning your firewood. The crackling and popping you hear in a campfire is from excess moisture burning off – which you don’t want in your home.”
Too much moisture within wood doesn’t burn as hot, gives off useless steam when burning, and creates dangerous and flammable creosote buildup. A best practice when buying your firewood is to use a moisture meter to find out just how “seasoned” it is before you take it home. Wood burns the best when it’s been split, seasoned for at least 6 months, and is made up of less than 20% moisture.
>> Read about wood bricks – the firewood alternative.
Just like with pellet stoves, your chimney and/or wood stove requires regular maintenance, and should be professionally cleaned at least once a year. Any special “logs” that claim to get rid of your creosote can be used, but should not take the place of a proper, extensive cleaning.
Enter your zip code at Woodpellets.com to see if Cleancare Professional Stove Cleaning is available in your area.
Questions? You can always call 1-800-735-5387 to speak to a Woodpellets.com representative!
Wood bricks are an excellent alternative, or supplement, to firewood. Much like
how wood pellets are made, wood bricks are manufactured by densely compacting bark-free wood fibers into a uniform shape. But first, the wood fiber is kiln-dried to hold less than 10% moisture. Because of this extremely low moisture rate and absence of bark and insects, the buildup of creosote is significantly lower than standard wood burning.
Wood bricks are commonly packaged in bundles of 15-20 bricks. Bundles are sold individually and usually by the ton (2,000 pounds) on a shrink-wrapped wood pallet. Cleanfire Wood Bricks, for instance, are sold on pallets of 66 bundles of 15 bricks, and in some pickup locations by the bundle.
Summer is great for all things outdoors – especially camping. Even beginner campers know the gear basics to pack, but what about some fun, extra gadgets? We have compiled our eight favorites, in no particular order below.
1. Light-Up Grill Spatula
Prefer cooking over the grill instead of the campfire? Don’t let the grilling stop when the sun goes down! A spatula with an attached light shines right where you need it – without attracting unwanted bugs with bigger lighting.
Summer is the season for camping and bonfires – and it’s nearly upon us. But before you start packing up firewood for your camping trip – think again. Most camp sites do not allow firewood to be brought from outside sources. This is because firewood can transport insects such as wasps, ants and beetles that can hurt trees and spread disease. According to Don’t Move Firewood;
Tree-killing insects and diseases can lurk in firewood. These insects and diseases can’t move far on their own, but when people move firewood they can jump hundreds of miles. New infestations destroy our forests, property values, and cost huge sums of money to control.
So what should you do? Calling the campsite ahead of time to check what the rules are is a great first step. If the site allows local firewood to be brought in – just ask what the requirements are. You might just have to buy firewood that is sold close to where you’re camping. Make sure to ask where it’s from when you’re buying it. If the seller is unsure – you shouldn’t risk it.
“I want to try a new brand or type of wood pellets, but I’m concerned about taking the leap.”
Buy both! If you have been burning hardwood pellets, you might be curious about upgrading to softwood. (e.g. Cleanfire Hardwood vs. Cleanfire Pacific) Or perhaps you already burn softwood pellets, but you’re wondering if there’s really a difference when upgrading to a higher-level. (e.g. Cleanfire Pacific vs.
Cleanfire Douglas Fir)
In order to really understand the difference between two different types or brands of wood pellets, you should burn at least a ton of each consecutively. This will give you enough time and fuel to let you really tell the difference in heat output and ash buildup between the pellet types. Depending on your stove, you may need to adjust your pellet feed rate and blower speed, especially if you are trying a hotter pellet than you normally burn.
Before you start burning, make sure your stove is nice and clean. Keep your settings adjusted to how you normally would. As you work through the first ton, take note of how often you have to clean out your burn pot and how the heat intensity feels. Once the first ton is gone, your pellet stove should be cleaned up before burning the other ton. Repeat the process, adjusting the stove as needed for the difference in heat output from the pellets.
Wood bricks can be used alone or as a supplement to firewood in a wood stove. This video is comprised of a series of clips filmed over 75 minutes. A smoldering piece of mostly burned-through firewood is in the back, with three Cleanfire Wood Bricks stacked in front. There is no kindling or assistance needed, due to the already hot firewood ash bed.
It’s important to remember that whether used alone or with firewood – wood stoves should not be packed tight with wood bricks. Don’t be fooled by their size. Wood bricks pack a super hot punch – which can damage a stove if used incorrectly. We recommend testing brick and/or brick+firewood burning variations to find the best fit for your stove.
“At some places, it was just a recorded message: ‘We have no firewood for the season.’ ” a Natick resident explained to the Boston Globe about her trouble finding firewood. Unfortunately for wood stove owners, she’s far from alone in her struggle. The Northeast is experiencing another tight supply of firewood this year, and what’s available costs up to 25% more than it did last year.
While it’s an inconvenience for those using firewood as an ambiance enhancer – it’s much more serious for many New Englanders in need of wood heat for their homes. Census data reports wood used as a main heating source has increased most notably in the Northeast. According to the
report, “All nine states in the New England and the Middle Atlantic Census divisions saw at least a 50% jump from 2005 to 2012 in the number of households that rely on wood as the main heating source.” Although the demand for firewood has overloaded the supply of late – there is an alterative.
Bitter cold temperatures in the Northeast have been relentless of late, and pellet burners are understandably cranking up stoves to keep warm. The colder the weather, the more pellets you’ll be burning. As your supply dwindles, make sure that you are ordering your pellets from somewhere that can get you your pellets quickly. (We’re very happy to report that in most Woodpellets.com service regions, delivery is now within one week!) Stay ahead of your supply level and order before you’re out, or close to being out.