Heating your home with a wood stove. It sounds so warm. And cozy. And romantic.
You know, sitting by the fireplace in your pajamas with your hot cocoa and a good book is so relaxing. But those of you who heat your homes with a wood stove know that it is, well, not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot more work than just turning up the thermostat and having your heater kick on and warm the house up while you watch a movie. This is our second winter of heating our house exclusively with our wood stove–yep, we don’t run the heater unless we’re going to be gone–I’ll get to that later.
So here are my top 5 tips for making heating your home with a wood stove easier! Let me know your tips in the comments below the article!
1. Use a ChimGard stovepipe thermometer.
Mine is made for single wall pipe. There’s a version for double wall pipe, or you could use a stovetop thermometer for similar results. My husband insisted we get this last year, and I thought he was crazy. I mean, why do I need to pay for a thermometer to tell me my stove is hot? Isn’t it obvious? Well, this thing is GOLDEN. It takes all the guesswork out of the whole fire experience. Really, it’s worth every penny (and we paid more for it at a local specialty shop than you will at Amazon).
Here’s how it works. The ChimGard attaches magnetically to your flue pipe and measures temperature. It has screws with it to help secure it–go ahead and use those, ours slipped around when we just used the magnet. It is divided into yellow, orange, and red sections. If your fire is in the yellow section it isn’t hot enough. In this zone, creosote can accumulate in your pipes and you’re not getting the heat you could out of your wood. In the red zone, your fire is too hot. This is the danger zone where chimney fires are most likely, plus you’re burning through your wood faster than you need to. Time to cool it down.
The orange zone is where you want your fire to most efficiently heat your house. Nice amount of heat and the safest temperatures to be burning at. When I’m lighting a fire, I like to open the damper on the flue and the air vents on my stove, then build my fire. Close the doors and wait. Time to cool it down! When it gets to the top of the orange zone, I close the damper down about 2/3 of the way to the closed position and turn the air vents so there’s just a little air flowing in. Just right. The fire cools down but stays in the orange zone. Stoke the fire! When it drops to the bottom of the orange zone, it’s time to add more wood if you want to keep your fire heating the house.
If you’re warm enough, just let it drop into the yellow zone naturally as it burns through the wood and start over again when you’re ready for some more heat. Using the ChimGard is way better than guessing when to open the doors and mess with the fire. I’d buy this thing five times over for the knowledge and control it gives me overheating with my fire.
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2. Use an Ash Vacuum.
A regular vacuum isn’t equipped to handle ashes. And believe me, you’re going to want to at least vacuum around your stove–fire building is messy. An ash vacuum has filters that are tight enough that ash dust doesn’t get thrown around your house from the back end of the vacuum. It also has heat resistant tubing and a metal can to hold the ashes.
While they aren’t good for hot coals or ashes, they work great to clean your warm or cool ashes out of your stove. Mine is an older model made by the same company that makes this one and I LOVE it. Way less mess than shoveling and sweeping.
3. Get a fan…or two.
Heat rises, but it doesn’t turn corners very well. The room your stove is in will get nice and warm, but you’ll want to distribute that heat throughout the rest of your house. Fans work great to move the air around and get the heat to places it doesn’t want to get to on its own.
4. Have a support crew that will cut, split, and haul your wood.
I’m only sort of kidding here. This is the part that is the most physical work. I’m glad I have a husband and teenagers to help with it! Anyone who is in the “older” category may have trouble doing the physical work that heating with a wood stove requires.
If you can’t physically cut, split, and haul your wood, look into services that will do it for you. We have local people who sell firewood already cut and split, delivered to your door. Yes, it costs more than cutting your own, but then all you have to do is bring it in and burn it. Might be worth it for you.
5. Have a backup heat source.
If you have to leave your home for more than a day, you’ll want a way for it to stay warm enough that your pipes don’t freeze. This is when we use our regular heater. If you’re planning on heating your home with a wood stove either now or in an emergency, use these tips to make the job a whole lot easier on yourself.
Bonus! A few more recommended products I love for my wood stove: Here are a few more products I have been loving that relate to my wood stove. Some of these you’ll need, others are just nice to have.
Cast Iron Wood Stove Steamer. Heating with a stove can reduce the humidity in your house. Replenish that humidity with a stove top steamer! Available in some super cute designs.
Fire Starters. I use enough scented wax over the holidays to keep us stocked with these super simple fire starters all winter.
Fireplace Tool Set. You have to be able to move the burning wood around when you’re adding more. A standard set of fireplace tools does the trick nicely.
Sled. Yep, just a plastic kid’s sled. Toboggan-style with sides. We use this to transport loads of wood from the wood pile to the house when the ground is covered with snow. Priceless. One person can carry so much more wood this way! The wheelbarrow or wagon work just as well when the ground isn’t covered with snow. Do you heat your home with a wood stove? What are your favorite tips or products?
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