Author – Todd Woofenden
There are lots of accessories for wood stoves, some for the purpose of improved performance, others for atmosphere or decoration. Here we will cover the basics.
Ash vacuum for a woodstove
Most household vacuum cleaners don’t filter out particles as fine as wood ash. If you try to vacuum up more than a very small amount, or if you accidentally pick up a hot coal, you could blow dust all over the room or light the vacuum on fire. Special vacuum cleaners designed for ashing stoves incorporate a super-fine filter (or filters) and usually some type of fire-resistant pre-filter.
Catalytic retrofits for a woodstove
Before catalytic combustors became commonplace in wood stove designs, people often tried to gain the benefits of a catalytic unit by installing a catalytic retrofit. The catalytic combustor was mounted in the same way (more or less) as a pipe damper, with a handle to allow the user to open or close it. When “closed,” the catalytic combustor was positioned in the pipe so that smoke was forced through it. It was a good idea, but the results were generally disappointing. With the catalytic combustor mounted outside the body of the stove, it is hard to reach the temperature required for catalytic combustion to occur, so the units tended not to operate effectively.
Fans used with a woodstove
Fans help circulate the heat produced by the stove. Stoves that incorporate a circulating design often can be fitted with a blower on the back of the stove, to force air through the air channels and into the room.
Ceiling fans and small fans mounted in doorways have the same effect: they move air around, helping to distribute the heat.
If you are thinking about installing a blower on a stove or a fan somewhere in the room, consider the shape of the area you are trying to heat. As hot air moves into the area, the colder air has to have a way to get back to the stove. Try to set up the fan system to create a circulation of air throughout the area.
Glass cleaner for woodstove doors
If your stove has a glass door, go to your local stove shop and buy some stove glass cleaner. There are two basic kinds. The pump-spray type is good at removing mild stains, so it is good for stove users who tend to clean the glass regularly. If you tend to let it get really filthy, try the liquid paste kind. It will remove even the nastiest buildups of creosote on the glass, although you still might have to work at it a little bit if it is really bad.
Woodburner’s gloves help prevent burns when loading the stove. A good, heavy pair will allow you to reach in and move a log, in emergencies.
Heat shields used with a woodstove
Many brands of stoves are designed with optional steel heat shields, sheet metal panels that attach to the back or bottom of the stove to reduce heat transfer to combustible materials behind or under the stove. Some stove brands require the use of a bottom heat shield, for example, in any installation on a hearth built with wood supports under it. In other cases, you may want to move the stove back closer to a combustible wall. The use of a rear heat shield offers reduced clearances.
Note: Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions, and never place a stove closer to combustible materials than the minimum distance specified by the manufacturer’s instructions. Ask at your local stove shop for more information.
Outside air duct adaptor and woodstoves
If the house is particularly tightly-insulated, or if state or local codes require it, air for combustion can be “piped” to the stove from outside. Some stoves don’t have an air intake that will accept a round duct pipe. An outside air duct adaptor is a metal connector attached to the air intake, with a round flange on it, allowing the connection of a round duct pipe to the outdoors.
Spark screen for a woodstove
Some stoves are designed to be operated with the front doors open, like a fireplace. A spark screen designed to fit the front opening is a necessary safety item for open fire viewing.
Steamers for a woodstove
A cast-iron, copper, or ceramic steamer on top of the stove helps add some moisture to the air. Pick one you like the look of, but keep in mind that smaller ones will need to be filled very frequently – maybe several times a day. Try not to let it boil dry, especially if it is a ceramic one, which might break. If the water tends to boil over, put a trivet under the steamer.
It is also a good idea to use a trivet if your stove has an enamel top, to help avoid scratching the enamel surface or damaging the enamel by boiling the water over onto it.
Stove thermometer for woodstove use
Used to monitor the temperature of the stove as an indicator of stove performance and safety, thermometers are available in surface-mounted models (usually magnetic) or probe-type models. Probe-type thermometers more accurately measure flue gas temperature, by means of a probe inserted into a small hole in the stove pipe.
Many catalytic stoves are designed to accept a probe-type catalyst thermometer. The probe is inserted just above or behind the catalytic unit, to monitor the functioning of the catalytic unit.
Warming shelves used with a woodstove
Some stove models offer optional warming shelves. These are decorative shelves attached to the sides of the stove. Warming shelves not only provide a nice spot for a pot of stew, they also give you a place to set a steamer when you are loading a top-load stove (a stove with a load door in the top of the stove).
~ Todd Woofenden