Pellet stoves are an efficient and cost-effective means of heating homes and can reduce energy bills by more than 50 percent in some cases. In order to function properly, however, homeowners must install and maintain the pellet stove fireplace with care and consideration.
Pellet Stove Installation
Pellet stoves come in two different forms: freestanding stoves or fireplace inserts. Inserts require relatively little extra installation measures. Freestanding stoves, however, require some thought before installation. Most freestanding stoves should reside in a large, open area so they can heat the space evenly. Some models are made specifically for corners or for blank walls.
All models require an electric source and need to be positioned near a 110-volt outlet. If homeowners live in an area with many power outages, they should consider buying a back-up battery or a generator to keep on hand. The electric source provides power to the motor which in turn keeps the pellet stove functioning properly. Power outages may cause exhaust to leak into the room.
Proper ventilation allows air to come into the stove to fuel the fire and also shuffles exhaust out of the home. Homeowners should install a direct pellet stove vent pipe through the wall or piping through the ceiling. A direct vent pipe requires a vertical section that passes the roof so exhaust does not damage the home. All pipes must be approved by the manufacturer and comply with local building codes.
Pellet Stove Cleaning
Most pellet stove failures occur because of improper maintenance. Homeowners should regularly inspect the pellet stove for problems. Leaky joints can cause ash or exhaust to flow into the room, but can be remedied with a high-temperature silicon sealant. Ash can also build up within the pipe over time and block it if not cared for correctly. In this case, fire pellet stoves usually have a switch that automatically shuts off the furnace to minimize damage.
Regular cleaning, along with inspection, helps keep the stove running smoothly and safely. Homeowners must empty out ash trays as they build up. In top-fed stoves, hardened ash deposits called clinkers may develop in the combustion chamber. These melt and block important pathways if not removed. Removal is easy, however, and can occur when the stove is still on. Homeowners simply need to use the ash tool or rake provided with the purchase of the stove to pull the clinkers out–taking care around the hot surfaces. Ash trays should be emptied about once a week. A special pellet stove vacuum will help clean all surfaces. Other vacuums are not recommended as they can not process the fine ash from the pellet stove.
Before closing the stove for the season, homeowners should remove all pellets and ash from each part of the stove. This will reduce the chance of rust forming over the dormant season.
Pellet Stove Maintenance
Over time–if installed and maintained correctly–pellet stoves can save homeowners money during the increasingly expensive heating seasons. Inspecting, emptying ash trays and vacuuming out remains will keep the stove running smoothly. Without these measures blockages can occur, causing damage to the home from exhaust.