Pellet stoves are considered to be the most efficient form of residential solid fuel heating appliance thanks to using a range of electronic and mechanical components to help make the burning process more controlled and optimized for efficiency.
However, this heating automation can come at a cost of more onerous cleaning regimes typically required with pellet stoves, needed to help keep a pellet stove running as efficiency as possible.
To highlight what you can expect to undertake as part of this cleaning process we’ve put together this article to explain what to clean on a pellet stove.
Things to clean on a pellet stove include:
- Combustion chamber
- Burn pot
- Ash tray
- Fresh air inlet
- Glass door
- Pellet chute
- Chimney flue
- Baffle plate(s)
We’ve discussed each of these things to clean on a pellet stove in more detail below using our own pellet stove to help explain.
What To Clean On A Pellet Stove
1) Combustion Chamber
The combustion chamber on a pellet stove is where the fire is located and where the heat will be generated.
The combustion chamber can therefore be the main area of a pellet stove that you’ll need to focus on cleaning between fires.
The combustion chamber of a pellet stove is made up of a smaller number of components, with each part discussed in more detail further in this article.
The combustion chamber on our pellet stove is located at the middle area on the front of the stove and can be accessed by opening the glass door.
Within the combustion chamber you’ll typically find the burn pot, ash tray and baffle(s).
Much of the cleaning associated with the overall combustion chamber on a pellet stove is dust in the corners.
The manufacturer of our pellet stove explains to:
‘Vacuum clean the combustion chamber and all contact edges.’Victoria-05
During each service of a pellet stove (to be undertaken by a certified technician) the sides and back panels of the combustion chamber may be removed to allow for a deeper clean of a stove, but shouldn’t be done if you’re not qualified to do so.
2) Burn Pot
The burn pot is the actual combustion area inside the combustion chamber of a pellet stove where the fire will be located and where the pellets and air will be supplied to.
The burn pot can be the most important part of a pellet stove to clean as it can become clogged up with unburnt pellets.
Manufacturers of pellet stoves (including ours) typically recommend cleaning out the burn pot daily or before each fire.
To help make the cleaning process easier, burn pots are usually removable. We can simply remove ours from the combustion chamber between fires (when the stove is cold) to clean.
If a burn pot has any holes then it’s important that any leftover bits of pellets or ash are removed from the holes in order to maximize airflow to the combustion area for the next fire.
The manufacturer of our pellet stove requires us to perform cleaning of the burn pot on a daily basis:
‘Remove the combustion area and scrape off any scales that clog the holes.’Victoria-05
3) Ash Tray
The ash tray on a pellet stove is typically located below the burn pot inside the combustion chamber and is where any excess ash produced by a fire is collected.
Ash trays in pellet stoves will be removable and so you simply need to take the ash tray out of the combustion chamber and dispose of the ashes accordingly.
Pellets for use in pellet stoves are typically very low in ash content and so less ash can be produced compared to other forms of wood burning fireplace or stove, but the ash can still add up and will need to be removed when required or as stated by manufacturer.
The instruction manual for our particular model of pellet stove requires us to clean out the ashes from the ash tray daily:
‘Open the fire door and throw away the ashes from the ash tray.’Victoria-05
4) Fresh Air Inlet
Pellet stoves use a real fire to generate heat and so each fire must be supplied with a sufficient oxygen supply to keep going.
Fresh air for a pellet stove will typically be pulled in from the back of the stove, either using air from within the room or directly vented from the outside (see our article on pellet stove venting requirements for more information) and will typically enter the stove below the burn pot within the combustion chamber.
The air inlet in our pellet stove is located below the burn pot and can be cleaned when the burn pot has been removed.
The air inlet is the left hole shown in the picture and before each fire we ensure that this area/hole isn’t blocked up with any ash or other bits and clean as necessary.
The ignition system on a pellet stove is used to start each fire.
The ignition will typically be located near to the burn pot and air inlet, and is located below the burn pot and adjacent to the air inlet in our particular model of pellet stove.
The instruction manual for our pellet stove requires us to clean the ignition weekly.
We therefore clean the ignition hole at the same time as cleaning the fresh air inlet as they’re located next to each other on our stove.
The ignition system may be cleaned more thoroughly by a professional as part of the annual or seasonal maintenance service, but parts may need to be removed in order to more easily access the whole ignition system.
As part of the seasonal maintenance to be undertaken by a certified person, the instruction manual for our stove explains to:
‘Clean, check and remove all debris from the ignition system’.Victoria-05
6) Glass Door
For viewing pleasure the front of the combustion chamber in a pellet stove is often found as a glass door.
This glass can start to blacken or become stained over time and so should be cleaned as and when required or at intervals outlined by the manufacturer.
The instruction manual to our pellet stove requests us to clean the glass as part of daily cleaning, stating:
‘Clean the glass when it’s cold. If necessary, use appropriate detergent.’Victoria-05
The hopper in a pellet stove is where the fuel in the form of pellets are store before being delivered to the fire in the combustion chamber via the auger.
The hopper is therefore where the pellets are added to from the bag, with users typically pouring the bag of pellets into the hopper.
The hopper on our pellet stove is located at the top back of the stove and can be accessed by removing the cover lid.
Through adding pellets to the hopper, pellet dust from the bag can start to accumulate at the bottom of the hopper and can cause problems such as blockages within the auger if not kept under control.
Tip: to help reduce the cleaning requirements of the hopper in a pellet stove it’s always worth trying to reduce the amount of pellet dust getting into the hopper from the bottom of the bag of pellets.
The instruction manual for own pellet stove recommends that we clean out the hopper as required:
‘Empty the pellet fuel hopper and clean with a vacuum cleaner if the pellet stove was not used for an extended period.’Victoria-05
The auger in a pellet stove will be found within the hopper and is used to deliver pellets from the hopper to the fire in the combustion chamber.
The auger can’t usually be cleaned directly as it’s typically difficult to get to but cleaning out the hopper can indirectly help clean out any dust at the bottom of the auger.
However, pellet stoves typically offer you the ability to manually feed the auger screw, meaning that you can get the screw to turn and clean it out without having to start a fire.
For example, we can hold down the screw symbol on the screen of our pellet stove and the auger screw will turn until the button is released.
This is a useful way of getting bits of pellets out of the auger without cleaning is manually.
A pellet stove auger may be cleaned more thoroughly as part of a service.
9) Pellet Chute
Pellets from the hopper are fed to the combustion chamber using the auger through the pellet chute.
The outlet to this chute can be seen just above the combustion area on our pellet stove.
This part of a pellet stove won’t need to be cleaned regularly but will need to be if any pellets get stuck.
10) Chimney Flue
Like all wood burning appliances, pellet stoves can still produce creosote that can build up within the chimney flue and within other parts of the stove.
The flue of a pellet stove should therefore be cleaned through annual sweeping and may also be intermittently inspected for creosote build up as part of a service.
The flue socket outlet from a pellet stove will typically be located on the back and will either connect to a flue that extends out an external wall of the building or vertically through the roof depending on the venting arrangements.
11) Baffle Plate(s)
The baffle plates in a pellet stove are typically found at the top of the combustion chamber and help to slow the rate at which waste air leaves the chamber for efficiency purposes.
Our own stove has two plates and are cleaned during a service.
The manual for our stove explains to:
‘Carefully remove the vermiculate plate at the top of the combustion chamber and clean the dirt and ashes.’Victoria-05
Other Cleaning & Maintenance
Other parts of a pellet stove that can be cleaned as part of the seasonal or annual maintenance of a pellet stove can include:
- Full ignition system
- Electric motors
- Distribution blower
- Combustion blower/fume extractor
- Sensors, such as temperature and pressure
- Electronic control system
See our guide to all of the parts of a pellet stove explained for more information.