Other than firewood, matches and newspapers are the only supplies needed to start a fire in a free-standing wood-burning stove. The stove requires little routine maintenance (emptying the ash pan and cleaning the soot from the windows to see the fire).
If you’re thinking of getting an alternative heating unit, it’s best to do so as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the longer the wait time will be).
Considering a coal-burning stove? The newer models burn anthracite coal, which burns better and cleaner than bituminous coal, which many older stoves burn.
Here are the pros and cons of a few heating options:
Pro-There’s little maintenance and it’s easy to use-just set the thermostat at the desired temperature.
Con: The cost of natural gas is always rising, which results in more expensive gas bills.
Fireplace Inserts (Stoves that fit into an existing masonry fireplace):
Pro-Converts the existing masonry fireplace to a more efficient heating unit
Con: The chimney requires cleaning twice per year. And inserts can cost just as much as a new free-standing unit.
Wood Pellet Stove:
Pro-Pellets are made from leftover wood from flooring and furniture industries,
Con-If the pellets get wet, they bloat and are useless. If the power goes out, the stove won’t run unless it’s hooked up to an alternative energy source, such as a generator. And every seven to 10 days of burning around-the-clock, the unit needs to be cleaned.
Anthracite Coal Stove:
Pro-This unit can self-ignite. After loading, there’s little maintenance required to keep burning. It’s easy to vent. Anthracite coal gets more BTUs (British Thermal Units) per pound compared with wood pellets.
Con-The unit requires a lot of maintenance, including cleaning dust. If the dust gets into the electronics that regulate the stove, the electronics may malfunction. A stove with a blower requires electricity to run.
Pro-Depending on the model, free-standing wood-burning stoves have the largest range, heating from 600 to 2,400 square feet.
Con-I didn’t find any!
General Use and Safety Tips
Whether your alternate heat source is a stove, fireplace insert or traditional fireplace, here’s what to do:
Read the user’s manual for operating and maintenance information and details of the manufacturer’s warranty.
Complete a visual inspection of the unit to ensure all gaskets are in good condition are free of wear and compression and are sealed properly.
Ensure surfaces are free of foreign objects, the glass is intact and doors latch properly.
Clean the stove.
Check the level of ashes and empty them before they reach the top of the ash pan.
Clean any loose items from around the unit.
Inspect and clean the catalyst. Replace it if necessary.
Clean out the ash pan. To keep the stove dry inside during the summer, dry the pan with kitty litter.
Clean the glass.
Make sure all handles are tight.
Make sure all screws on the heat shields are tight.
Clean and lubricate the blowers.
Thoroughly clean and inspect the chimney.
Use quality fuel. When burning the wood, select hardwoods. The best include maple, oak, beech, ash and hickory.
Split, stack and air-dry the wood outside, under a cover, for at least 2 months.
Wood that has been drying for longer than two years is too dry and will reduce the burn time.