How to operate a wood stove.

Updated October 2021

Wood stove 101: The doís and doníts of how to operate a wood stove

Using a wood stove is not difficult if you follow the following 5 steps. (We link to other non- commercial websites for more information.)


1. Use dry wood
Tip: Use a moisture meter to ensure its 20% moisture content or less. To get an accurate reading donít measure the end; split the wood first, then measure the freshly exposed side.

2. Split and cover your wood early
Tip: Learn how to prepare firewood. Plan on 6 months minimum for soft wood in very dry climates and up to 2 years for hard wood in humid climates. For oak on the east coast, 1 year is usually not enough.

3. Start fires quickly with lots of dry kindling
Tip: Use firestarters if necessary and practice a top-down fire. Most people do not use enough kindling.

4. Give your stove plenty of air
Tip: Make sure your air control is fully open to start the fire. Resist the urge to damp it too far down. Smoldering stoves cause excessive air pollution and give the technology a bad name.

5. Check and/or clean your chimney regularly. One rule of thumb is to clean it after each cord of wood, especially if the wood isnít fully dry.
Tip: Hire a CSIA certified sweep and learn from them. Ask questions!

Donít ...

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