Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's FREEZING. Do You Have Efficient Woodstove Fuel Combustion?

HILLSVILLE, VA. The light afternoon snow and high of 14 °F before a crisp blue sky made for a beautiful winter sunset.
In cold like this, we need dependable heat. Wood is not scarce in Appalachia (especially after recent storms felling trees), some choose to heat with a wood stove. When a storm interrupts the electrical supply (seemingly more often these days) all conventional heating souses are useless, but wood stoves keep you warm, cozy and safe. Power outages become less of a drag; you get to use the candles. 

Once a good stove has been selected and installed correctly (learn how to install a woodstove by clicking here), the next important factor is proper operation. Problems can result from incomplete combustion. 

Combustion is the chemical reaction between the wood (acting as fuel) and oxygen. The combustion process results in heat and water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other products of combustion (gasses and ash).

To achieve good combustion -
  1. A continuous supply of oxygen for the fire and the occupants of the room. 
  2. A proper amount of fuel (wood). Too much will cause overheating, but enough to maintain a flue temperature that prevents the accumulation of creosote residues. 
  3. Proper burning - to avoid wasted fuel and toxic products of combustion, such as carbon dioxide. 
  4. Removal of unwanted products of combustion - gaseous products should be continuously removed while the stove is in operation, and solid products (ashes) should be disposed of safely. 
Complete combustion can be assured by supplying air and maintaining a sufficient heat level. Incomplete combustion results from an inefficient air supply, misapplied air, or insufficient heat. 

New stoves or cast iron parts should be "seasoned" to avoid cracking. Do this by building smaller fires for the first few times. 

The entire system must be properly maintained to operate safely and efficiently. The chimney connectors, joints, and flues must be clean and in proper working order. 

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