In order to prolong the life of your pellet stove, it’s integral that regular pellet stove maintenance is performed during the period of use. Even if you only use it for a few months out of the year, you need to be committed to regular cleaning so that it continues to work effectively for its lifetime.
Cleaning the Burn Pot
With a typical pellet stove, the burn pot needs to be checked after each day’s use and cleaned in order to keep the inlets freely open. Depending on the grade and type of pellet fuel that your stove uses, you may be able to clean the burn pot every second day, however it is a good idea to set yourself on a regular routine so that it doesn’t become neglected or forgotten.
As the stove is running, check to make sure that the flame is either bright yellow or white. If the flame is orange and seems to be releasing a lot of soot, or if you notice a build-up of a brownish, sticky substance, you’ll need to adjust the air and fuel rates in the burn pot. Check your stove’s manual to see if this is something you can do yourself, or if it’s a problem with the internal control board that a technician will have to look at.
You’ll also need to check the firebox for a buildup of clinkers, or ash pieces that have melted and hardened again. If there is too much ash in the burn pot and it begins to melt, the incoming air holes could become blocked and disrupt the air and fuel regulation. This can result in more clinkers, which should be removed by using the pellet stove rake or ash tool which is included with all stoves.
Cleaning the Ash Drawer
Before starting a new fire, you should always empty the ash drawer – and if you’ve been running the stove for a long period of time, interrupt the stove’s process and empty it then as well. As with any piece of large equipment, the frequency of cleaning certain parts will vary according to model, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations to double check whether your ash drawer needs more or less frequent cleanings.
Ash traps are different from ash drawers, and are located behind the fire chamber. These prevent any excess fly ash that might be in the exhaust system from exiting out the stove. In most cases, the ash traps can be easily removed by the stove owner, but some systems may require a technician.
Cleaning the Heat Exchanger
Clean the heat exchanger regularly – it’s what keeps the pellet stove running at maximum efficiency. These cleanings may have to vary between daily and monthly, depending on the stove model, and in most cases the cleaning is as simple as using a rod to scrape away buildup on the stove’s internal tubes.
At the same time, it is also worthwhile to check the hopper and auger for accumulated bits of sawdust. Empty the fuel in the tube here occasionally, which will prevent any sawdust or ‘fines’ from blocking the auger.
Cleaning the Venting System
The motors and fans for your pellet stove will need regular cleaning and lubricating. Some components may need to be removed before they can be cleaned – again, refer to your stove’s manual before cleaning or removing any part of the venting system. Each season, check the gaskets for the hopper lid, ash pan door, and fire chamber door, in case they need replacing.