Year Round Pellet Stove Maintenance Tips
Pellet stoves are a great way to save energy and money, but they must be maintained properly. Unlike a wood stove, pellet stoves are operated electrically and have circuits and moving parts. Ron Bashista, who does pellet stove sales and service in western MA, said the most important thing a pelletPosted — Updated
"The first thing you want to do is check the hopper (where the pellets are held) for spare or foreign parts. Whether the pellet stove is new or used, you want to be sure you're not running something through the auger (the part that moves the pellets to the feed pot for burning)," said Bashista. He added that unless you feel you are skilled enough to do the installation yourself, it's better to hire a professional. Proper installation and really getting to know your "stove to a T" will lay the groundwork for fewer problems down the line. "If you have trouble right out of the gate, it tends to leave a bad taste in your mouth," said Bashista.
Bashista said that you want to be sure all parts of the pellet stove, pipes, and chimney ware clean and free of debris or rodents. Any pellets that were in the stove should have been removed at the end of the last heating season. Pellets absorb water and break down, so you need to burn off or scoop out any remaining pellets at the end of the season.
He said next to do a test run without the fire to make sure nothing froze up during the off season. "You want to be sure the basic mechanical parts are all functioning," said Bashista.
"It's important to pay attention to your stove every day. Just by walking by notice how it sounds and if there is any black smoke where it shouldn't be for example," said Bashista.
Bashista said that weekly cleaning is very important as is using quality pellets. "In the end, it's more economical to spend the extra five bucks. Don't shop on price alone," he said.
There are three types of pellets: hardwood, softwood, and a blend of the two. Hardwood burns faster and hotter, and therefore more cleanly. Softwood burns slower and less hot, but leaves more ash behind. Various blends mix the two qualities.
Again, make sure your stove is well-cleaned. Bashista said that 99 percent of all mechanical problems can be traced to the stove not being clean enough. You can also unscrew any panels or pipes the stove has and vacuum out the inside. Remove all pellets for the hopper.