5 Things Your Stove Technician Wants You To Know

Woodpellets.com1. 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 if 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.

Woodpellets.com Blog5. 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!

Your Pellets Should Be Ordered by the Time You See These 5 Things

It’s completely up to you to decide when you want to place your wood pellet and/or wood brick order. However – do you want to have a quicker turnaround between your order date and delivery date? Do you want to be prepared for that first time you need to fire up your stove? If your answer is “yes” to either of those questions – take a look at our list below.

Here are five common signs that you’ll start to see around the time when your fuel order should be (or should’ve already been) placed.

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Color and Size Variances Among Wood Pellets

Wood Pellet Colors

Pellet stove heating is so efficient because wood pellet fuel is uniform. However, there are natural and perfectly acceptable variances in both color (and sometimes length) within wood pellets.

Much like snowflakes – no two wood pellets can be exactly the same. Wood pellets can have a variety of colors, depending on the primary species of wood used. Common hardwoods used to make pellets include Maple, Oak, Birch, Cherry, and Beech. Typical softwood raw materials used to manufacture wood pellets are Hemlock, White Pine, Spruce, and Fir. The wood species for the raw materials used to produce either hardwood or softwood pellets is the principle reason for the variety of colors. Pellet colors can range from a pale blonde, to a warm reddish brown, to a dark walnut.

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State Tax Incentives for Residential Wood Pellet Heat

NH Wood Pellets
Residential Wood-Pellet Rebate Program in New Hampshire

Rebates offered for 30% of the system and installation cost, or $6,000, whichever is less, for New Hampshire residents who invest in high-efficiency (80% or greater), bulk-fuel fed, wood-pellet central heating boilers and furnaces that became operational on or after May 1, 2012.

This program has helpful recommendations, which include the use of 
high quality wood pellets; “The life expectancy of the system will be significantly reduced and the operation and maintenance will be considerably greater if lower quality fuel is used.”

The Incentive Pre-Approval Application for NH can be found here, along with the full program details.

Lower Electric Rates

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Pellet Stove Season-End Cleaning and Shutdown Best Practices

How to Care and Clean Your Pellet Stove It’s finally here – time to shut down your pellet stove for the summer. It was a very long,
tough winter this year in the Northeast, and your stove probably worked hard. Considering pellet stove costs range at an average of around 2-3 thousand dollars, with some at double that price, this heating appliance is a real investment that will benefit from a few extra steps taken for season shut-down. Instead of just pulling the plug and walking away, responsible pellet burners should have a quick shut-down checklist to follow.
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4 Benefits of Wood Pellet Heat to Consider

In addition to the long term cost advantage over heating oil and propane, wood pellets have some additional benefits that you may be unaware of. 

CO2 Cycle with Fossil Fuel Burning1. The carbon footprint of wood pellets can be neutral, or close to it. 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. 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.

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Are You Considering a Wood Pellet Upgrade?

“I want to try a new brand or type of wood pellets, but I’m concerned about taking the leap.”

Wood Pellet Delivery 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.
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Is Snow Affecting Your Burning Efficiency?

Snowfall New England

Record snowfall has certainly been tough on those in the Northeast. Slippery conditions, heavy snow piling up, power outages and bitterly cold temperatures are just some of the struggles this winter has presented us with. The amount of snow accumulated in some regions has been crippling.

Although the temperatures are beginning to ease up, forecasters are predicting no significant dent in the huge snowbank accumulation soon. Bill Simpson of the National Weather Service Taunton, MA office explains, “It’s not going to be as significant as people think. It’ll melt, but not a good chunk. We’ve got a long way to go.” He believed there will only be a ten percent snow decrease in the next few days of warmer temperatures.

How does all this snow affect pellet stove owners? 

Pellet Stove Vent BlockageHeavy snow buildup can definitely affect your stove venting. This is a very common factor with burn issues right now. 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.

Another way snow affects your wood pellets is by through delivery delays.

The Woodpellets.com delivery trucks are wide, and they need enough space to safely travel down your road and park. Once parked, the forklift is lowered from the truck to unload the pallet(s) to be brought up your driveway. Of course, there is nothing you can do personally about large snowbanks taking up valuable space on the road. However, you can make sure your driveway is plowed enough for our 9 foot wide forklift. Making sure there is clear space for the forklift to maneuver on 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!

 

 

Are You At Risk of Running Out of Pellets?

Will I run out of wood pellets?It’s late into the winter – yet the Northeast is still being relentlessly hit with heavy snow and freezing temperatures. You might be starting to wonder if your pellet supply will last you through the rest of the heating season.

You’re not alone in this quandary.

This is a tricky time of year – where a wood pellet user must decide to gamble with a low supply and risk potential supply shortages, or choose to just play it safe and top off his or her supply now.

Of course no one knows for sure what will happen with the weather for the remainder of the winter. There is historical data, professional forecasters, and even a groundhog that can give a prediction – but there is no real way to know with absolute certainty. Earlier this year, we wrote about the Farmer’s Almanac weather prediction, which hasn’t been fully accurate. The Northeast prediction was a much colder than normal winter, which has been true, and “below normal snowfall”, which has not been true. Unfortunately, last winter much colder than many had anticipated…leading to a late winter shortage in many areas. With the harsh winter we have already experienced, there is certainly a possibility for more regional shortages again this year.

So, are you at risk of running out of pellets? Well, there are many factors that will determine your risk. Your pellet stove model, the prominence of secondary heating sources, the type of wood pellets burned, and the area of your home you heat with pellets are just some of the many variables that affect your fuel consumption.

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