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.
Unlike with firewood, it’s important to know that density is not a factor you have to consider when deciding between hardwood and softwood pellets. Regardless of the wood type used in manufacturing, the pelletizing process produces pellets with the same density. However, because softwood contains more resin than hardwood, softwood has a higher heat content per unit of mass – which makes softwood pellets a popular choice among most pellet stove owners.
Naturally, you won’t know what type and/or brand of pellets is best for your home (and your budget) until you run your own tests. Just remember that if you’re buying the cheapest pellets with lower heat output and higher ash specifications – you shouldn’t expect the same results as the higher quality options available. But if you’ve always burned the same brand, and your ash level is higher than usual or the heat isn’t the same – the culprit could be a couple of things. First, try adjusting your stove controls and see if there’s an improvement. Blower settings are often to blame for burn issues.
If you’ve made some adjustments and you’re still experiencing inconsistencies with the same brand you’ve used before – consult with the company you purchased your pellets from. (Woodpellets.com Quality Certified fuels are backed by a Quality Guarantee, which is valid for a full 30 days after your delivery date.) You might also want to consider a professional pellet stove cleaning, so a trained technician can give your stove a thorough clean-out/check-up.
At Woodpellets.com, we strongly believe that a professional cleaning is a great idea at least once per year not only for safety and preparedness, but also for efficiency. 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 properly circulate.
Whether or not you decide to hire a professional – a responsible pellet stove owner cleans out his or her stove regularly. The cleaning frequency depends on how often the stove is used, as well as the quality of the pellets burned.
It’s definitely helpful to check your owner’s manual for more insight on this, and to learn more about your pellet stove overall. It’s packed with model-specific information regarding proper stove maintenance, best practices and warranty information – but it’s often overlooked.