The How Zone

Inside a Pellet Stove

Regular Cleaning

Needs Cleaning

This is at least three weeks of full-time burning. Time for cleaning.

There's cleaning and then there's CLEANING! The first type of cleaning is removing the ash, something you need to do every one to three weeks, depending on the type of stove you have and its usage. Our stove can go about three weeks between cleanings, running 24 hours a day. We'll remove a little over an ash bucket of fine ashes.

We prepare for cleaning by shutting down the stove (or letting the pellets run out) at least a day early. You might be able to do it in less time but you stand the chance of having live coals (even in the ash pile) and would then need to take the necessary precautions (ash shovels, fire buckets, etc...).

We use a special pellet stove vacuum and take it from me you don't want to vacuum the stove out if there's any chance of embers. I burned up a perfectly good (and expensive) vacuum filter bag that way. Also, be sure to unplug your stove during maintenance and read the user's manual for instructions specific to your setup.

After all of the ash is removed you have a few choices. If you have a glass door you'll probably want to clean that off (wet cloth, maybe some kind of cleaner). Also, depending on the type of feed mechanism you might need to clean out clinkers or clunkers. Ok, clunker is my made up name for the ridge of buildup that we get on the edge of our crucible.

Along with pellets, the auger also pushes (and makes) sawdust which can stick to the hot metal edges of the crucible. Over time, a month or two, this buildup becomes significant and can start making it hard for the auger to feed pellets. In fact our first auger motor burned out because we weren't aware of the build up. We would clean out the ash, but pretty much left the crucible alone. What we couldn't see was that below the top layer of pellets was a one inch ring of buildup, almost sealing the crucible feed.

Dusty Wires

Here's the view in the back of the stove after I removed some panels. Lots of dust around the wires, auger motor, and control board. Be careful not to knock off any wires. My favorite technique when taking anything apart is to take plenty of pictures or video tape it, then you have something to compare with when re-assembling.

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