Author – Todd Woofenden
Although there are countless different models of wood stoves, there are relatively few basic types of stoves, and the mechanical problems they experience are similar. Your first step in caring for your stove is to read your owner’s manual for specific information on your model of stove. If you don’t have a manual, look for a label on the back of your stove that identifies the manufacturer and model, (or snap a photo of it if you can’t find any label) and go to your local stove shop. You may be able to purchase a manual.
Here we will discuss some of the basic categories of problems you might experience, and what to do about them. We will cover:
- Damper malfunction
- Broken/stuck/loose handles
- Warped or broken parts
- Cracked or broken glass
- Worn or missing gaskets
- Malfunctioning catalytic combustors
- Poor performance
Cracked or warped metal components of a woodstove
The metal plates on the inside of the stove are there to protect the outside of the stove from damage. If any of the burn plates becomes cracked or badly warped, replace it. It is a lot cheaper than replacing the whole stove down the road!
If an exterior part of the stove shows warping or cracks, you have a more serious condition. If you are up for a challenge and you have a good workshop, buy the replacement parts you need at your local stove shop, make sure you have an exploded diagram, and rebuild the stove. Be aware that it is never as easy as it looks! Those metal plates have been heated and cooled for a long time, and they won’t always go back together again easily. You can also have an expert do the rebuild for you. Check at your local stove shop for details.
If the damage is severe, or if the stove is fairly old, maybe it is time to upgrade to a new, more efficient model. You will be amazed at the cleanliness, ease of use, and low wood consumption that a new stove will offer.
Cracked or broken fire bricks or refractory panels
Many stoves are lined with fire bricks or refractory panels. Minor cracks are generally no problem, as long as the bricks stay together. But if they are badly cracked and start to fall apart, it is time to replace them. Many stoves use standard fire bricks that are readily available at your local stove shop. Others have specially-designed bricks or refractory panels that may need to be ordered.
If you don’t want to do the job yourself, ask your chimney professional to do the job for you.
~ Todd Woofenden