Basic operating instructions for wood stoves

Information that you have available is often down to the quality of support a stove supplier provides. The benefit of buying your stove from a reputable supplier is often the support service that comes with the stove. For instance, Clearview stoves have a great operating instructions manual for their stoves; anyone can contact them for a copy. Again, other local suppliers are usually only happy to oblige. See our local Supplier list.

However, not all people have a bought their stove from shop supplier. Following on from this, the stove may well have inherited when you buy a new property is or the stove is purchased second hand, so no immediate information is usually at hand.

As there is a huge range of stoves now on the market it would not be sensible to give a list of operating instructions on each stove. However, there are a number of procedures and tools available which can help you get the best out the stove and the wood you burn. Remember that there is no simple answer to getting your stove to work well. It is through a range of methods and operations that are carefully carried out that you will get the most out of your stove.

Tips on getting the most out of your stove

  • Burn only seasoned wood – this is wood that has been cut, split (to 100-120mm or 4-4.75″ diameter) and stacked appropriately to dry to less than 25% moisture content. Burning wet wood will produce tar deposits and will not give an efficient heat output and can lead to chimney fires. See How to Season Wood page.    Also try to have some logs stored in the house prior to burning, this will help as the logs will be drier but also warmer – so as not to take the heat energy away from the inside of the stove
  • Use a moisture meter – this can be used to test how dry your wood is when purchasing or before burning – See our help page
  • Firewood burns best on a bed of ash – never clean out your stove completely of ash, instead just remove the ash box below and empty
  • Lighting your stove –
    • Be prepared – Always have a store of dry kindling and newspaper available near your stove (softwood such as pine or spruce is good)
    • Light at the base of the fire and open all air vents and reduce the air accordingly as the wood starts to combust until finally the stove is up to its running temperature (see manufacturers guidance).
    • Use a stove thermometer – most stove need to be burning at a certain temperature to burn the fuel efficiently (eg. Clearview is at 260’C/500’F) Thermometers are relatively cheap and a useful guide to efficient wood burning. A good test is that there should be no smoke coming from the chimney when running properly. Be aware that there are two types – one for the surface of stove and one for the pipe leaving the stove (see right)
    • Do not slumber burn – there should generally be visible flames in the firebox – if the firebox should look clean, white-ish firebrick and the glass on most stoves should be clear – the main reasons for this not happening are that your wood is not dry enough or the fire is not up to the right temperature before closing down the air flow
  • Understand your stove – find out how your air vent controls work, get an operating manual for your stove if you haven’t already.
  • Do not overfill your stove with logs – make sure there is good spacing between the logs.
  • Overnight burning – this can be more difficult than it seems. Clearview suggest that their stoves will burn overnight. It is best achieved by fully loading the stove with well seasoned wood until the load is well alight then leave the secondary air vent open about 8mm. However, most advice suggests that it is best to avoid as it may well lead to tarring of the flue and may result in your flue needing to be replaced. The best answer is to experiment (every situation, stove, flue is different) but remain cautious. And always have a good supply of kindling at hand in the morning to relight.
  • Chimney / flue maintenance – Have your flue swept at least once a year, if you use your stove daily then twice a year would be advisable; efficiency of the stove is dependent on effective draw so it must be clear of deposits. It will also reduce a build up of deposits that may lead to a chimney fire. See our Stove Servicing and Chimneys page.

Further information and guidance can be sought through our Resources page.