Pellet stoves use a number of electronic components to help make the process of generating heat for your home more automated.
All of these components must be working in order for a pellet stove to operate efficiently and the number of components used within a pellet stove compared to traditional wood burning stoves means that there’s more that can go wrong.
Pellet stoves typically require a higher level of maintenance compared to other forms of fireplace and wood stove. In order for all of the parts of a pellet stove to be working to provide the cleanest burn and automate the heat output, daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly cleaning and maintenance may be required.
Pellet stoves remove the need for user input during each fire including adjusting the vents for air supply and manually adding fuel to the fire by using a range of sensors and electric and mechanical components to undertake all of these processes automatically.
However, a downside of this burning automation and convenient heating is higher maintenance requirements for pellet stoves compared to other types of wood stove.
Our own pellet stove is higher maintenance compared to our wood burning or multi fuel stoves.
We’ve explained in more detail below using our own stoves as examples:
- Why pellet stoves can be considered to be high maintenance.
- How maintenance of pellet stoves compares to wood burning stoves.
Are Pellet Stoves High Maintenance?
One of the downsides of using a pellet stoves to generate heat for a home is that they can be higher maintenance compared to other forms of stove.
This higher level of maintenance is a result of using a range of electrical components to deliver the most automated burning possible from any type of fireplace or stove.
Pellet stoves require electricity, which is used to power the number of electronic parts such as blowers, an auger and the central control unit with screen. All of these components come together to allow pellet stoves to deliver a very clean burn of the fuel and be very efficient at producing heat for a home as a result.
All of this is achieved automatically thanks to a central control unit using a range of sensors for temperature and pressure, using thermostatic control, and using user-inputted settings to help heat your home at certain times of the day, every day without any input required from yourself during these fires.
In order for these components to operate effectively during fires, more maintenance is required between each fire compared to what you would expect with a traditional wood stove.
Much of the maintenance for pellet stoves is regular cleaning.
The manual for our own pellet stove explains that in order for the pellet stove to maintain the high level of efficiency and heat output regular cleaning is required in the form of daily, weekly, seasonal and yearly maintenance.
‘For better heat transfer and reduced fuel consumption, it is necessary to perform daily cleaning. Cleaning once a day is enough.’Victoria-05
Pellet Stove Daily Cleaning
We don’t always use our pellet stove each and every day but on the days that we do use it we always ensure to give the main areas a quick clean in line with what the manufacturer of our stove recommends.
Before the fire on that day, we undertake the following (when the pellet stove is cold):
- Dispose of the ashes using the removable ash tray.
- Take out the combustion area and remove any leftover bits of pellets and clear the holes.
The instruction manual for our particular model of stove recommends vacuuming the combustion chamber and cleaning the glass every day, but we typically do this as weekly maintenance rather than daily because we don’t use our pellet stove quite enough to warrant it.
Pellet Stove Weekly Cleaning
Guidance for our particular model of pellet stove recommends weekly maintenance to include:
- Cleaning the ignition.
- Emptying the hopper and cleaning with a vacuum if ‘not used for an extended period’.
The pellet fuel used within pellet stoves can typically be bought in bags of certain weights. As these bags are transported and moved around, dust can start to be created by the pellets breaking up.
When adding pellets to the hopper of a pellet stove this can create a lot of mess depending on how much fine particles can be found within the bag. Keeping this fine dust away from the auger can be important in help to prevent blockages, which is another added part of the maintenance of a pellet stove.
Pellet Stove Seasonal Maintenance
The manufacturer of our stove recommends that seasonal maintenance is undertaken by the installer of the stove to ensure that it remains working effectively and efficiently and to check components that aren’t part of the daily or weekly cleaning.
The following is recommended as part of this seasonal maintenance of our own pellet stove:
- Internal and external cleaning
- Checking the door seal and replace is necessary
- Checking all electrical cables
- Cleaning the ignition system
- Checking the sensors
- Clean hopper and check auger is working correctly
- And more.
Pellet Stove Yearly Maintenance
The flue system of a pellet stove may require yearly inspection and cleaning, especially if located within an existing masonry chimney.
The manual for our pellet stove explains:
‘All parts of the chimney should have free access to inspection. At the bottom of the chimney must be an opening allowing for cleaning at least once per year.’Victoria-05
The cleaning and maintenance procedures outlined above are what is recommended for our particular model of pellet stove and may differ for other models of pellet stove. However, this should give a good indication of the level of maintenance required when using a pellet stove to generate heat for your home.
Pellet Stove Vs Wood Stove Maintenance
Pellet stove maintenance regimes can be considered to be quite high but are needed to ensure that they’re working correctly.
The efficiencies of pellet stoves can be among the highest for all forms of fireplace or stove and the burning process is also far more automated and less time consuming compared to others. For more information we’ve compared the efficiency ratings between our pellet stove and our other stoves and fireplaces here.
A downside of keeping this high level of efficiency and automation in pellet stoves is the higher level of maintenance require between fires, but an added bonus is a much lower level of maintenance during fires.
On the other hand, wood burning stoves typically require higher levels of maintenance during fires and less maintenance between fires compared to pellet stoves.
As an example, for each fire in our own wood burning and multi fuel stoves the following is required:
- Building, setting up and lighting the fires.
- Constant attention required getting the fires going.
- Ongoing periodic maintenance of the airflow into the stove using the vents to keep the stoves at optimum temperature and not burning too hot or too cold.
- Ongoing periodic maintenance of the amount of fuel on the fires, adjusting them around within the stoves if required, and adding further firewood to the fires when required.
With pellet stoves, as long as the combustion area has been quickly cleaned beforehand, they can be generating heat for your home at the press of a button, or even automatically turning on if you’ve set up the stove to come on during the day at certain times.
However, wood stoves don’t typically have any moving parts or electrical components and so minimal maintenance is required between fires. Maintenance between fires for wood burning stoves typically include:
- Removing any leftover burnt bits of wood.
- Removing any excess ash at the bottom of the stove, if required.
Wood burning stoves will also require a yearly cleaning of the chimney flue in the same way a pellet stove does.