Woodburning Stove Owner FAQs

Heat your home more efficiently with Stovax’s top tips on how to run your woodburning stove
by Stovax
23rd September 2020

Keen to get the best out of your woodburner? From which timber to burn to how to keep your appliance clean, Build It has teamed up with the experts at Stovax to answer stove owners’ most common questions. Here’s what you need to know:

What fuel can I burn in my woodburning stove?

Hardwoods such as ash, beech and birch are the best options for achieving a continuous, efficient burn. Remember that all wood must be properly seasoned before use.

A newly cut-down tree contains a significant amount of water, so it needs to be split into suitably sized logs and left to season. Dry wood for stoves should have a moisture content of around 14% to 20%. Air drying takes around two years, or you can purchase kiln-dried would where the process has been accelerated.

Stovax is working in partnership with Certainly Wood, one of the UK’s largest specialist firewood suppliers. Certainly Wood is dedicated to sourcing and producing high-quality, ready-to-burn fuel for stoves and fires.

Together, Stovax and Certainly Wood aim to plant 10,000 new trees every year as part of their #GreenBritain campaign to establish more healthy woodland in the UK. The goal is to create habitats for flora and fauna, while using thinnings to provide sustainable, high-quality firewood.

How can I get best efficiency from my woodburner?

Stoves are only efficient when burning the right wood at suitably hot temperatures. This is achieved by using the right combination of air supply for the conditions.

Primary air is fed in at the base and is useful to start a fire, but is then best closed down entirely with woodburners.

Secondary air, often known as Airwash, keeps the glass clean, and is the control air that can be adjusted depending on the desired heat output of the appliance. Tertiary air is fed in at the back of a stove, burning hydrocarbons and particulates.

Exactly what position the airflow controls should be in is not set on stone: only practice with your individual stove will establish the best settings.

Another critical element for running a clean and efficient stove is the flue system, which must be properly assessed, planned and installed by a HETAS engineer. The products of combustion must be removed effectively and safely. It is the flow of air through the fire and up the flue that creates the perfection combustion process – along with good quality firewood.

Why is the glass on my stove going black?

Blackening glass is typically caused by poor air supply, the wrong fuel and/or bad practice by the user – or possibly a combination of all three. These issues will lead to the fuel not burning cleanly, resulting in soot and tars being deposited in the appliance. This will require more regular servicing intervals. Common causes of inefficient combustion include:

  • Incorrect setting of the stove’s air controls meaning the fuel burns at below optimum temperature.
  • Leaving the stove to slumber for too long, ie operating it with the controls closed – perhaps due to the room becoming too hot. This means the fuel will not combust cleanly.
  • Poor updraught up the flue preventing good airflow.
  • The weather. Stoves can react differently day-to-day depending on wind, temperature and air pressure – which can all have an impact on the flue’s ability to flow hot air upwards.
  • If the wood is not dry and seasoned then moisture has to be boiled off before the wood can burn properly, which will cool the firebox and prevent efficient combustion.

Do I need to clean my stove?

Regular cleaning and maintenance is always recommended for woodburning stoves; but the level of upkeep required will depend on how frequently you use it.

Some people light their stove daily during the heating season, while others might just use it on particularly chilly weekend days. So there’s no set amount of wear and tear.

Day-to-day maintenance is limited to ash removal (once the stove has cooled), with perhaps the occasional vacuum using a soft-bristled brush attachment. You may want to give your stove a deeper spring clean once per year to get it ready for the heating season.

When should I have my woodburning stove serviced?

All solid fuel stoves (including woodburners) should have an annual professional service – not least to preserve the manufacturer’s warranty.

This should include a sweep of the flue system; inspection of baffles and firebricks; assessment of the condition of door and glass rope seals; and adjustment of the door latch and hinges.

The key thing is to ensure they are HETAS registered – your supplier should be able to arrange a service for you, or you can check out the HETAS website to find registered engineers.

Many chimney sweeps are now fully qualified in maintenance of both the flue and woodburning appliance, so they may be able to cover all the above activities.

Stovax & Gazco are among the UK’s leading stove and fireplace manufacturers, and have been designing and manufacturing exceptional stoves, fires and fireplaces for over 38 years. Find your perfect stove or fire >

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