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5 Tips before you buy a wood burning stove

5 Tips before you buy a wood burning stove

Anyone who’s paid winter home heating costs knows the feeling of sticker shock. Heating the home comes with a steep price tag—as much as 45% of the average household budget. That’s why many happy homeowners have turned to one of the oldest, most reliable, and least expensive forms of heat: wood.

 

You’re so smart to prepare for yourself for the work of buying a wood burning stove. Here’s a list of the top 5 things you need to know before making the first purchase.

5 Tips before you buy a wood burning stove:

#1 – Find a supply of clean, dry wood

Try to salvage some wood from tree trimming services, yard waste centers, or storm damaged wood pieces. Wherever you’re getting your wood for your wood burning stove from, you need to make sure it’s a hardwood species. These types of wood gives the best ROI because they burn longer and produce more heat.

Some of the best trees to harvest for firewood include:

  • sugar and red maple
  • hickory
  • any of the oaks
  • beech
  • hornbeam (ironwood)

Or, if you chop down a tree for your wood burning stove, the firewood needs to be “seasoned.” Wood is seasoned by drying out for at least six months to a year before getting burned in a fireplace. Allowing wood to season reduces both creosote in the chimney and air pollution. Green, unseasoned wood will burn slowly and produce a lot of smoke and particulates. This builds up in your chimney and increases the risk of a chimney fire.

 

This means you should plan a year in advance.

#2 – Provide a proper place for wood storage

 

Seasoning wood dries it out. This drying out process is called cure. In order to cure wood, the pieces of firewood need good air circulation. A location such a shed without sides or rows with tarps. Find something to stack the wood on to elevate it off the ground. It doesn’t have to be fancy – salvaged materials used correctly can get the job done just fine.

#3 – Prepare for a labor intensive task

Don’t underestimate how much time and energy you’ll invest in cutting, splitting, carrying, and stacking all the wood to heat your home throughout brutal winter temperatures. Some days it’ll be a full day’s work. Most wood burners will require attention every 6 to 8 hours, maybe longer if you have a good furnace or heat pump. You might be one of those people who sees this as a positive because you’ll save money for a gym membership for a few months.

#4 – Have access to the cash or credit you’ll need

The initial cost of a wood furnace will be about $3000, plus installation. Resale value drops quickly and buying a used one will probably be pretty worn out from high usage. You’re going to have to have quality wood cutting tools, too. With tools, you generally get what you pay for. It’s worth the extra money to get tools that last.

#5 – Minimize risk to your home and family

Make sure your homeowners insurance will cover you if you have wood heat, and find out what restrictions they have on heating with wood. Clean your chimney every year and check for problems. Improper ventilation can lead to carbon monoxide build up, which can be deadly. A carbon monoxide detector is a good investment for nearly every home, but especially those with combustion appliances, such as a gas fireplace or a wood burning stove.