Recently, parts of The BTU Act (Biomass Thermal Utilization Act) were passed through Congress and signed into law, officially placing wood pellet stoves on a level playing field with other renewables that have been receiving appliance tax credits for a long time.
What does this mean for residential wood pellet heating?
A three-year investment tax credit (ITC) for high-efficiency wood-fired home heating equipment is now official!
The credit applies to the installed cost of home heating and hot water systems that utilize wood pellets, chips and cordwood at efficiencies greater than 75 percent high heat value.
The tax credit is for 26 percent in 2021 and phases down to 22 percent in 2022 and 2023.
For example, a wood pellet stove that costs $4,000 to install in 2021 will result in a savings of approximately $1,000 when applied to the homeowner’s 2021 tax return.
Charlie Niebling, a consultant for wood pellet producer Lignetics, has been working to enact the BTU Act for more than a decade. He has called the tax credit plan a “game changer” for residential wood heating.
“Our message to Congress for years has been…don’t pick winners and losers,” explained Niebling. “[Wood heat] deserves the same recognition in the federal tax code that solar and wind do.”
If you’d like details about this bill passing, read more here.
Heavy 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, 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.
Speaking of snow…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 snow banks 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!
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.”
There are many different brands and styles of wood pellet stoves – so the best way to start learning about your particular stove is to read the entire manual. If you’re a new pellet stove owner, or have switched to a different model – it could take some trial and error to learn the right process for your home.
You might be surprised to learn that many common issues pellet burners face with their stoves can be solved with making some adjustments. Again – start to troubleshoot and learn by reading your manual! It has the best stove-specific advice on operation, maintenance, recommendations and best practices.
Take a look at our quick cheat sheet below to review the pellet stove problems we hear about the most.
|Poor burn quality
||Clean your stove according to your manufacturer’s recommendations, or schedule a professional stove cleaning and inspection.
||Burning on ‘low’
||Adjust heat setting to medium or medium/high.
||Clean all vents, check and repair/replace all gaskets, adjust damper or airflow setting.
||Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by increasing air flow.
|Lazy or small flame
||Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by increasing air flow and/or decreasing feed rate.
|Low heat output
||Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by increasing air flow and/or increasing feed rate.
|Sparks flying / embers in the ash pot
||Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by decreasing air flow and/or decreasing feed rate.
|Whole, charred pellets left in the burn pot
||Adjust air-to-pellet ratio by decreasing air flow and/or decreasing feed rate.
|Auger jamming / stove shutting down
||Drop bags on the floor – this can break long pellets into a manageable length.
|Excessive ash build up / whole, charred pellets in burn pot
||Reduce feed rate.
As you can see, many burn issues are directly related to your stove’s airflow. If you have reviewed your owner’s manual to make the proper settings adjustments, but you’re still experiencing problems…you might have a leak. Wood pellet stoves operate through a system of air intake and exhaust, and the exhaust fan sucks air out through the burn pot to cause combustion of the pellets. It’s important to inspect your venting setup to see if it’s properly sealed, but it’s more likely the leak is through your door gasket.
It’s simple to test the door seal efficiency 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.
If you ordered your wood pellets from Woodpellets.com and you find damage to the actual wood pellets – call 1-800-PELLETS within 30 days of delivery to speak with a Quality Assurance Representative. All Woodpellets.com Quality Certified fuels are backed by a Physical Quality Guarantee, which is valid for 30 days after the delivery date.
Questions? Call 1-800-735-5387 to Speak to the Experts at Woodpellets.com!
It was 1965 when Vern Ziegler established the Ziegler Lumber Company after building hundreds of homes in the Inland Northwest as a general contractor.
Using his vast experience in residential construction, Mr. Ziegler pioneered the do-it-yourself concept with his first store in Spokane Washington. Having been called “Ziggy” much of his life, Vern’s company soon became well known as “Ziggy’s.”
His goal at that time was the same as it is today – to offer the customer the highest quality merchandise at contractor prices, along with excellent service and good advice for the homeowner to do his own projects.
In order to offer expert wood pellet customer service along with the convenience of ordering premium wood pellets online, Ziggy’s recently partnered with Woodpellets.com. Now any wood pellet stove owner within Ziggy’s pellet delivery service area can now place an order through Woodpellets.com online or by calling 1-800-PELLETS.
We’re proud to be working with Ziggy’s and are thrilled to expand our services to the Northwest!
Do you hate cleaning your pellet stove? I do. It’s one of those necessary chores of pellet stove ownership that you come to dread. But over the last four years that I have been cleaning my stove, I have managed to reduce the time spent to just 20-30 minutes per month. I have found that the most critical step in cleaning your stove is having the right tools for the job.
1. Although it may seem obvious – a flashlight that you can wear on your head, or clamp to the side of the stove, is a must. Without the proper light, it is impossible to see all nooks and crannies where the ash is hiding. While the headlight allows you to use your hands for other tasks, it throws decent light wherever you turn your head to look.
2. Another must-have tool is a good stiff brush. I use an old nylon 2′ paint brush to sweep the ash from my heat exchanger, and off the walls of the stove itself. Don’t try to use a cheap flimsy brush. You need a sturdy one that can withstand the stress of regular cleaning.
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.
1. 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.
Two house fires in New Hampshire within a month have been linked to wood pellet stoves. One of the fires was found to have started by a faulty pellet stove chimney, which devastated most of the home and injured four firefighters. The damage done by the other recent fire was less significant but was also pellet stove related – starting due to an improper installation.
Pellet Stove Blamed for Small Fire at Manchester Home
Read >> Investigator: Seventh Street Fire Caused by Pellet Stove Chimney
Unfortunate accidents like this should serve as a general reminder about wood pellet stove safety. Make sure to read your manual to better understand your stove through the model-specific information.
Since every pellet stove is different, some of the best advice can be found in your stove manual. Whether you’re burning pellets for the first time in a new stove, firing up your system at the start of a new season, or switching to a new brand of pellets, this quick reference guide for troubleshooting some common burn quality issues should come in handy.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.