Pellet Stove and Pellet Fireplace Insert Maintenance Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of heating with pellets?

Pellet stoves have become extremely popular due to the fact that they are environmentally friendly & easy to use. They use pellets created from recycled materials as fuel and are extremely heat efficient which can help lower heating bills. They can also be installed in places where gas or wood units would be impractical. Also, you can store four times the amount of pellet fuel in the same space that an equivalent amount of cordwood requires.

Are pellet heating appliances efficient?

Yes. This is one of the reasons pellet stoves & inserts are so popular. Homeowners can enjoy an overall heat efficiency of 80 – 85%.

How are pellets created & what are they made of?

Wood pellet manufacturers take wood waste product like bark, saw dust, ground wood chips & other combustibles and press them into ¾ “ pellets. Every pellet is the same size, shape & density and has the same moisture level so that it produces the same amount of energy.

What type of pellets should I use?

There are currently two types of pellets available: premium grade & standard grade. In general, premium grade pellets are the most recommended as they have low ash content and give off a higher heat output. While there are a number of great brands to choose from, each contains different types of wood, binders, additives, and saw dust. Always check the owner’s manual of your pellet appliance to find out what types of pellet you should be using.

How do pellet stoves operate?

First, pellets are loaded into a hopper on the top of the appliance. Next, the pellets are delivered to a stainless steel burn pot. A state-of-the-art circuit board controls the precise amount of fuel that is delivered to the burn pot to determine heat output & burn time. High pressure air is then pulled into the base of the burn pot and forced through the burning pellets. This achieves nearly complete combustion of the pellets (usually over 95%) and allows the greatest amount of heat value to be transferred to your home. The heated air is then drawn through heat exchange tubes at the top of the firebox and transferred into your home by a variable speed fan. The burned pellets leave a powdery, residual ash that will need to be cleaned out periodically.

Are pellet stoves reliable?

Pellet stoves are extremely reliable and typically have a long life span. Pellet stove manufacturers create quality products that are often backed by great warranties. Seven years warranties and limited lifetime warranties are most common. It’s important to purchase your pellet product from a reputable hearth dealer who will properly install quality products. Buying from a big box store or online may cost a few dollars less, but there is a huge difference in quality, performance, reliability, efficiency, heat output, maintenance requirements and product support.

What type of chimney or venting do I need for a pellet appliance?

Most pellet appliances require a 3″ or 4″ Type “L” vent pipe, unless you are planning to connect the unit to your current masonry chimney or a factory built stainless steel chimney system. Type “L” vent pipes can be installed through a side wall or vented vertically, directly through the rough. This will all depend on the location of the unit and the details of your particular installation.

How do I store the wood pellets?

In general, pellets will come packaged in 40 pound bags. These bags stack easily and you can actually fit four times the amount of pellet fuel in the same amount of space that one unit of cordwood takes up. On average, a full winter’s supply of pellets will take up an area of about 6′ wide x 6′ deep x 6′ high. It’s best to store the pellets in a dry area like a basement, shed, utility room, or garage.

Are pellets messy to store or use?

Pellets are a great alternative to wood. They are clean & easy to handle and store, and do not contain bugs, bark, or dirt as is common with storing wood. They also offer a clean and environmentally friendly way to heat your home.

How do I light my pellet stove?

Many pellet stoves & inserts rely on an automatic ignition system which makes lighting your pellet stove as simple as flipping a switch. A wall thermostat can be installed and used to control the ambient temperature in the room. It’s best to avoid purchasing pellet units that require gelled alcohol and must be lit manually.

How much space can I heat with a pellet appliance?

This is actually determined by the pellet appliance you purchase and the amount of BTUs it produces. The more BTUs/hour it produces, the higher the heat output and the more space you can effectively heat.  Some pellet appliances can produce a range anywhere from 40,000 to 45,000 BTUs per hour when turned to full power. Since BTU output is adjustable, you can heat a smaller area by simply turning down the BTU output. A small pellet stove will typically operate between 8,000 and 28,000 BTUs/hour, while a large pellet stove can operate at 14,000 to 45,000 BTUs/hour. With a pellet appliance, you can effectively heat anywhere from 300 to 2,000 square feet.

How much maintenance does a pellet appliance require?

Regular maintenance for pellet stoves & inserts include cleaning the stainless steel burn pot, heat exchange tubes, and exhaust blower. The ash pan must also be emptied on a regular basis to ensure safe and optimal operation. Occasionally it’s important to check around the glass doors and ash pan to make sure there is no air escaping. An annual inspection is a great way to make sure that your appliance is in good working order and is being cleaned properly.

How do I clean out ashes from my pellet appliance?

Each pellet stove has an ash pan that collects the ash from the burning pellets. The ash pan has a handle for easy access. The ash can be removed even while the fire is going. Simply pull the ash pan out from underneath the door and dump out the ashes.

How can I control the amount of heat output from my pellet stove or insert?

The amount of heat produced that your pellet stove or insert produces is determined by the rate at which the pellets are fed through the burn pot along with the speed of the blower fan. The more pellets that are added to the system, the more heat the appliance will produce. This can be controlled automatically with a thermostat or adjusted manually.

How much should I pay for my new pellet appliance?

Many homeowners search for the best deal possible when purchasing a large appliance. While finding a good deal on major appliances is always a plus, it’s important to remember that the performance and longevity of the product you purchase is just as important as the price you got it for. The saying goes “It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little”- John Rusking.  It’s more important to look for a quality product that will deliver the expected performance at a price that is fair and affordable, than to just choose the cheapest product on the shelf. Nothing is worse than purchasing a product that you thought was a great deal only for it to breakdown shortly after you bought it. If you have questions on the quality of a pellet product, turn to a trusted hearth retailer. They have all of the necessary knowledge and know-how to direct you to the perfect product at the right price.


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