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Cleaning Your Wood Stove: Can you do it yourself or should you call the pros?

With 8.8 million households in the United States using wood stoves as a secondary source for heating, regular maintenance and cleaning of the appliance is a necessity for many people nationwide. However, many wood stove owners may not be familiar with the importance of cleaning their stoves, how to do it, or when to let a professional step in. Whether you’ve just installed a wood stove in preparation for winter or you’ve had one for some time, here are some of the basics about care and cleaning that you should know.

The importance of proper care

While cleaning your wood stove might sound redundant (until it becomes noticeable), it’s an important part of owning a wood stove that should never be overlooked. This is because an unclean stove — including both the chimney and flue — can not only prevent it from working properly, but can easily become a fire hazard due to the build-up of creosote, which also makes it a health hazard as well. With that said, the cleaning and proper care of your wood stove are necessary for proper efficiency and safety, as regular maintenance can help keep your stove in an ideal condition that doesn't harm anyone's health.

Cleaning your stove 

While how often your wood stove gets cleaned depends upon how often it’s used, it should still be done at least once a year. When it does need to be cleaned, always begin with the stove completely cold in order to avoid burning yourself. Then, you can scoop out the ashes with an ash shovel and wire brush and put them in a metal bucket. Next, scour the buildup and rust off with a wire brush. The exterior of the stove can easily be cleaned with a vinegar solution and rag. As for the glass, a cold piece of charcoal can easily rub away any soot, and after you wipe it with a paper towel, you’ll find that it’s clean. However, when it comes to cleaning more complicated aspects of your stove — like the chimney and flue — calling a professional can be a good idea.

When to call a professional

Calling a professional to clean your stove is never a bad idea, especially if you don’t feel comfortable with cleaning the stove yourself or don’t have the proper equipment to do so safely. Professionals can ensure that your stove is properly and safely cleaned, inspected, and safe for use. Many may use high tech equipment as well, which can be expensive to buy and hard to obtain for personal use. Thus, calling a professional can prove to be a quality and convenient service for wood stove owners, in addition to bringing peace of mind and reducing stress surrounding the issue.

While it’s definitely possible to clean your wood stove yourself, it’s necessary to be informed of the several safety precautions to take when doing so. For example, when disposing of the ashes, it’s necessary to do so properly by keeping them in a metal bucket for 24 hours (in case they contain any live coals). It’s also very important to take care when cleaning the chimney in order to prevent falling off the roof. Due to the extent of safety precautions needed, utilizing a professional is always a great idea. 

Cleaning your wood stove and keeping up with its maintenance is an absolute necessity in order to keep it working properly and safely. While many may call a professional to do so, others may choose to take care of it themselves. No matter the situation, it’s important to be aware of the safety precautions involved.

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