Ovens and wood stoves have one thing in common: it's more fun to use than to clean them! But if you want to bake tasty bread, casseroles, and cakes, you need to clean your oven regularly. Likewise, if you want to warm yourself in front of a crackling fire in winter, you also need to clean your wood stove. After all, regular use doesn't just cause soot deposits in the firebox. In the worst case, so much soot and creosote can accumulate in the chimney pipe that it clogs and ignites the soot. This can cause a serious chimney fire. Also, carbon monoxide can enter a home when there is an obstructed chimney exposure. Keeping both fire and carbon monoxide alarms on all levels of your home are important with wood-burning stoves.
Tips for cleaning wood stoves
A fireplace is the warm heart of the living room and radiates coziness on cold winter evenings. But after winter the wood-burning stoves tend to be very dirty. Here, we will show you how to remove soot residue and how to clean your wood stove.
Why clean your wood-burning stove?
How often should you clean wood stoves?
Regardless of whether it’s required by state or federal law, it’s important to have your chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep. This should be done at least once a year. However, you shouldn’t leave it entirely down to the professionals, you should also take responsibility for cleaning your wood stove. A thorough clean before and after the heating season is a good rule of thumb. Parts that see regular use, such as the firebox and ash pan, should be cleaned much more regularly – about once a week.
What accessories do you need?
You need the following things to clean a wood-burning stove thoroughly:
- Fireplace tools (poker, ash scraper, hand brush, and shovel)
- Pipe cleaning brush
- Soap and water
- Cleaning cloths or rags
- Ash vacuum
- Gloves and a mask
What to consider before cleaning the wood stove
First of all, the stove must be switched off and allowed to cool down completely. Cleaning is best done from inside to outside.
Step 1: Remove ashes
First remove the residual ash from the combustion chamber. This should be done once or twice a week depending on how often you use your wood stove. If there is an ash box by the fireplace, pull it out and pour the cold ashes into a non-combustible container.
If there is no ash pan, sweep out the firebox with an ash scraper or hand brush and shovel. Alternatively, the dry ashes can be vacuumed up with an ash vacuum cleaner. Do not use a conventional vacuum cleaner for this. The cold ashes can then be disposed in the residual waste.
Step 2: Clean the wood stove glass door
It is also important to clean the wood stove doors. Soot accumulates particularly heavily there, and can even burn in a way that you have to replace the pane.
Use a damp cloth or scrap of newspaper to clean the wood stove glass door. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, sponges, or brushes.
Moisten the cloth and wipe the door pane with it. For stubborn dirt, you can use a special fireplace pane cleaner.
Step 3: Clean the wood stove pipe
We recommend this step be done by a professional or someone who has experience with cleaning wood stove pipes. Special attention should be paid to the chimney pipe when cleaning a wood stove. Accumulated soot can block the pipe, which can affect the performance of the stove and prevent combustion gases from escaping. A professional should clean the wood stove pipe at least once after each heating season or, if used frequently, also during the season.
Step 4: Clean the wood-burning stove body and casing
Finally, it's time to clean the body of the fireplace and the outer casing. The steel casing of the firebox is usually made of varnished steel and should not come into contact with water or acidic cleaners. Wipe the body only with a dry or damp cloth.
The outer casing is usually made of natural stone, soapstone, ceramic tiles, metal, or cast iron. You can clean soapstone with a damp kitchen sponge and mild dish soap. Similarly, you can clean natural stone with stone care cleaner. Metal, ceramic, or cast iron is best cleaned with a damp sponge, while avoiding acidic cleaners.
With these simple steps, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your wood-burning stove. Enjoy the coziness of a crackling log fire!