Pellet stoves are very efficient heaters, but they require more maintenance than typical furnaces and woodstoves. Avoid performance and safety issues with your pellet stove by following these five tips.

1. Use High-Quality Pellets

When you use the best pellets, your heating costs may increase slightly compared to using lower-grade fuel. However, avoiding the soot buildup and other issues with low-grade pellets make the extra expense worth it.

Remember that pellets should have a low moisture content no higher than 10 percent. If your pellet stove also burns corn kernels, nut shells, and wood shavings, buy the best quality fuel of these types that is available.

Use fuel without multiple fillers and glues to avoid excess smoke and ash in your pellet stove. Also, look for pellets that are PFI certified for your intended use.

2. Check the Ash and Dust Content

Some pellet stoves can handle pellet fuel with a low or high ash content. Other pellet stoves may gum up or fail to burn properly if they're fed pellets of the wrong type. Check to make sure that your pellets are the right ash type for your stove. Top-fed pellet stoves are often designed to work best with low-ash pellets.

Continuous-feed hoppers and chutes on heaters are susceptible to sawdust accumulation in the same way that fans and chimneys collect ash and soot. Check your pellet supplies to ensure the integrity of the pellets is good. Avoid pellet bags with an abundance of sawdust and loose fuel at the bottom.

3. Have Your Pellet Stove Serviced Each Autumn

Schedule an inspection by your local fireplace and stove-repair service before cold weather arrives each fall. The pros know how to check for broken, missing, and dirty components on your pellet stove.

Some of the areas they check include:

  • Hopper

  • Augur

  • Pressure switches

  • Electrical wiring and switches

  • Igniter

  • Electrical, vacuum, and pressure sensors

  • Combustion or convection motor

The technician will also check your pellet stove's firewalls, burn pot, and chambers for proper operation. If necessary, you're advised to hire a professional cleaner for your specific type of exhaust system.

Another thing your stove professional will do is lubricate and replace parts as needed. For example, they’ll switch out a bent or corroded fan for a fresh replacement. This preseason check ensures that problems are spotted and fixed before temperatures drop so you and your household can have a cozy winter.

4. Raise Efficiency With a Soot Sweep

Pellets stoves require at least a weekly tidy to brush away collected sawdust, ash, and soot. Cleaning up the hopper and feed areas is not hard, but purchase a cleaning set with an efficient, ergonomic broom, whisk, and dust pan to make your job even easier.

Did you know that one tenth of an inch of soot on a metal surface can cut its heat transfer rate by half? Allow the stove to cool periodically so you can remove excess soot on a regular basis. Use fire-resistant tools for this job, and always dispose of ash properly to avoid fire danger. Pellet stoves are extremely safe when you follow this simple cleaning regimen every week.

5. Clean Your Stove's Window Periodically

Experts recommend you clean your pellet stove windows at least once a week to prevent the glass from completely blacking out your view. Soot, grime, and ash build up rapidly on the glass. If you wait until the end of the season, the cleanup may take a lot longer than a routine wipe-down.

Check your owner's manual for the correct window-cleaning methods for your pellet stove. Allow the glass to cool completely before you begin cleaning. You can use newsprint or lint-free cloth as a cleaning rag.

Ask your fireplace and stove repair service to recommend a cleaner for your pellet-stove glass if you prefer to use a commercial product. For a homemade solution, dampen the rag with vinegar. You can also use a rag dampened with water and dusted with wood ashes to wipe away the glass. Then, use water-dampened newsprint to wipe the class clear.

Allow the glass to dry thoroughly. Never use abrasive products or cleaners for ovens, as these products can mar the glass. You also don't want to introduce unsafe chemicals that create fumes when heated.

All appliances last longer and perform more efficiently when you keep up with recommended maintenance tasks. Take a moment right now to find your owner's manual for your pellet stove. Read over the recommended cleaning and other stove management tasks you should perform throughout the year.

If you don't have the manual — or can't locate it — you can find most owner's manuals online for your convenience. Alternatively, ask your HVAC and fireplace supply professionals to supply you with a manual.

Contact Hartman Heating, Air and Fireplaces today to schedule an inspection of your pellet stove, fireplace, or furnace. We install, service, and replace heating units of all types in the Sandy, Utah region.