Pellet stoves are relatively complicated machines, with electronic control boards, multiple blowers, safety switches and sensors. As a result there is much more to go wrong than with a simple wood stove or fireplace. Pellet stoves require regular attention, service and maintenance. Your first order of business when shopping for a Pellet stove is to ask yourself who will be taking care of your stove. If you are very handy with tools, draft gauges and chimney brushes, then it may be possible for you to troubleshoot and repair your unit. If you are a bit less handy, you should strongly consider purchasing from a local and reputable dealer with a service department. Ask questions about their future service policies BEFORE you put your $$$ down.
A pellet stove is simpler to operate than a classic wood-burning stove, but it’s certainly not as hands-off as a conventional furnace. “Our whole culture is built around giving the consumer products that you can plug in and forget,” says Dan Freihofer, vice president of operations for PelletSales.com, a pellet provider. “But the pellet stove takes a little more involvement. You’ve got to fill it every day, and clean the ash out every few days. The archetypal owner is someone who isn’t daunted by a little technology–an engineer or someone who likes to tinker.” There are two basic stove types: inserts that fit into a fireplace and freestanding models, like the Lopi Leyden that Goodrow and Willis bought. This stove produces 45,100 Btu per hour, roughly matching the output of a small residential boiler or furnace–enough to heat 2250 square feet of living space.
Wood-heating technology and its safe installation are more complicated. It isn’t safe to simply hook up a wood stove to an existing chimney and begin using it for heating. You should get reliable advice from a trained professional and consider having the wood-burning system professionally installed. This way, you will get the best performance from the system and be assured of its safety. Before starting the installation, get a building permit from your municipal office and inform your insurance agent of your intentions.
Depending on the burn rate, a stove will run anywhere from several hours to all day before its hopper needs another load of fuel. Each pellet is an energy-dense sawdust extrusion that measures about 1/4 inch in diameter and 3/4 inch long. The average household uses between 2 and 3 tons per heating season. Last winter a ton of pellets (50 40-pound bags) cost about $200 to $275–providing, that is, you could find them. The pellet industry got a sooty black eye over the last few seasons in regions where demand outstripped supply. The producers and retailers say they have fixed the problem for this year with better production methods and logistics. Just to be sure, many stove owners started placing orders in the spring. Some groups of owners started pooling their orders to buy a whole tractor-trailer load of fuel at a time–bringing down the price while ensuring they’d have pellets once the temperature drops. “Supply looks dramatically better this year,” Freihofer says. “Supply will exceed demand.”
Wood-burning appliances and fireplaces may emit large quantities of air pollutants. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, organic gases, and particulate matter, many of which have adverse health effects. In many urban and rural areas, smoke from wood burning is a major contributor to air pollution. Because of this, some municipalities restrict wood heating appliance use when the local air quality reaches unacceptable levels. Others restrict or ban the installation of wood-burning appliances in new construction. Before installing a wood-burning system, you should contact your local building codes department, state energy office, or state environmental agency about wood-burning regulations that may apply in your area.
WETT inspections can be booked by visiting www.wett-inspection.com for new home owners in the Barrie or Simcoe County area. Insurance companies now require that all wood stoves and fireplaces be inspected prior to issuing home insurance. Call now for a Professional WETT Certified inspection of your wood stove, fireplace, fireplace insert or pellet stove.
Want to find out more about Barrie WETT Inspections by Certified Professional, then visitthe Barrie WETT Inspector’s site on how to choose the best Certified WETT Inspections in Barrie, Ontariofor all your WETT insurance inspection needs.