Although many people take advantage of professionals service providers to maintain their pellet stoves, you can do many of these jobs yourself. Pellet stove care and maintenance, whoever does it, not only keeps your appliance running it tip-top shape, but it also significantly extends the life of it.
Burn Pot, Ash Drawer, Heat Exchanger
Depending upon the grade of fuel you are burning, periodic cleaning of the burn pot is essential. High-grade pellets leave less deposit than low-grade fuels. You need to make sure the flame from your stove burns bright yellow or white. An orange or darker-colored flame signals that a buildup of soot or something else is clogging it and needs to be cleaned away.
Also keep on the lookout for “clinkers.” Clinkers – formed by melted and hardened ash – can block airflow in the burn pot and interfere with the mixture of oxygen and fuel. Remove clinkers with the ash tool or rake that comes with your stove.
Ash drawers should be emptied regularly. Dependant upon what model and type of pellet stove you own, ash drawers need to be cleaned out once or twice a month or, in some models, monthly.
Clean the surface of the heat exchanger for maximum efficiency. Again, the design of your particular stove dictates the frequency of how often you need to clean this component, which ranges from daily to monthly.
Some heat exchangers on pellet stoves are relatively easy to clean by merely moving a rod inside that scrapes off built-up debris from tubes inside the appliance. Other, more sophisticated stoves require heat exchangers to be cleaned only by a professional.
Auger Tube, Hopper, Ash Trap
To prevent possible blockages, occasionally allow the fuel pellets to run out of the auger tube and hopper. Accumulated sawdust and other debris from the pellets can sometimes be a problem, otherwise.
The ash trap is another pellet stove component that needs to be kept in mind. These are located behind the fire chamber and keep excess ashes from flying from the stove into your living area. Ash traps should be cleaned out regularly.
Cleaning the glass periodically on your pellet stove may seem more like a mere aesthetic chore, but it does help you keep an eye on how the flames are burning. To avoid possibly burning yourself, however, never attempt to clean the glass until the stove has been shut off and allowed to completely cool. Use a standard commercial glass cleaner or a solution of one part ammonia to five parts water. To avoid streaks, use newsprint instead of paper towels.
Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro
These are just a few of the things you should do as a standard practice to keep your pellet stove running well and producing the most heat for the least fuel. Your owner’s manual may provide other tips to help with pellet stove care and maintenance.
And remember, if you don’t want to do these chores yourself, please keep in mind that at least annually, you should hire a professional to make sure your (expensive!) pellet stove appliance gives you the most for your money.