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Learn Helpful Tips & Tricks from the Community

OK, you have decided to get a stove or an insert, and are needing a place to put it. You may already have an existing fireplace, or you may be creating an entirely new installation.

This article is intended to deal ONLY with the Hearth, or the floor surface that the stove or insert is sitting on. The walls around and behind the installation are a separate subject, and are discussed in this article and a second article as well as in many threads on our forums. This article is an effort to summarize these topics and come up with a list of general “best practice” recommendations on how to design a hearth that works well and promotes maximum safety.

As usual all the standard disclaimers apply - while we attempt to give the best advice possible, we can’t see your setup or tell what will work in every case. Your local code enforcement folks (AHJ) have the final word, and we advise consulting with them and other qualified building professionals about the details of your particular installation. Neither Hearth.com, nor any of the contributors to this article accept any responsibility or liability for the results of your installation, as you alone are responsible for the results of your work.

A Finished Hearth (details on this hearth)

The hearth structure is also sometimes referred to as a “Hearth Pad” or just “pad” for short, the terms will be used interchangeably throughout this article.

If one is installing on top of a concrete or other inherently non combustible floor, little in the way of a hearth pad is needed, other than possibly for aesthetic reasons. However most of us are going to be installing on or...
by Ken Rajesky, Hearth Industry expert

Proper Wood Stove, Fireplace, and Gas Stove Glass Door Cleaning

Before you start any procedure involving your glass door, its important to fist check your manufacturers instructions to ensure that the cleaner or the method that you plan to use complies with their requirements. This is especially important if the glass is still under warranty. Second, always make sure that you have the proper safety equipment such as gloves or glasses. Cleaners may be caustic to your skin, and your eyes are irreplaceable.

There are two ways to clean your glass. The first way is to clean the glass with the glass still attached to the door. I recommend using a cleaner specifically designed for removing the brown and black stains (carbon) from the glass. Cleaners such as Glass Plus do not do a good job when it comes to carbon. There are several brands available, and the cleaner I have had great success comes in the form of an aqua colored paste. Typically the cleaner will come in a 12 oz. Bottle, and say Fireplace Glass Door Cleaner or Woodstove Glass Cleaner. You must clean the glass while its cool for best results. All youll need is a few paper towels, or cloths.

Leaving the Glass in the Door

1. Open the door(s), and if possible, remove the door for easier access to the glass. If access is easy while the door is still attached, then leave it on.

2. Apply an amount of cleaner about the size of a 50-cent piece onto the paper towel.

3. Rub the paste onto the glass in an elliptical pattern. Be sure to clean the edges and corners.

4. Allow the cleaner to dry for a few seconds, and then rub off the paste and carbon with a clean cloth.

5. If carbon still remains in a few spots, repeat steps 2-4.

Removing the Glass to Clean

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If you need to remove the glass to clean, and/or you feel you need to replace the glass gasket, then you follow the steps outlined below. If you have a digital or...
Pellet Stoves/Corn/Biomass CONSUMERS GUIDE TO PELLETS PART ONE
Consumer Guide to Pellets Part 1

Checking It Out - Understanding Pellet Fuel and what to look for in appliances.

Note: The following information was prepared by HEARTH Education Foundation, in cooperation with the Hearth Products Association and the Pellet Fuel Institute.

THE FUEL

What are pellets made of ?

All pellets are biomass materials, that is, products of commonly grown plants and trees. The most common residential pellets are made from sawdust and ground wood chips, which are waste materials from trees used to make furniture, lumber, and other products. Resins and binders (lignin) occurring naturally in the sawdust hold wood pellets together, so they usually contain no additives. Nut hulls and other materials are pelletized in some areas, and unprocessed shelled corn and fruit pits can be burned in a few pellet stove designs. Your fuel of choice and its price may depend on the waste biomass most avail- able to pellet mills in your region. In turn, your choice of appliance design depends on the fuel available.

Where do pellets come from?

Pellet mills across the country receive, sort, grind, dry, compress, and bag wood and other biomass waste products into a conveniently handled fuel (Figure 1). Today, over 100 pellet mills across North America produce in excess of millions of tons of fuel per year, a figure that has more than doubled in the last five years. Pellets are available for purchase at stove dealers, nurseries, building supply stores, feed and garden supply stores, and some discount merchandisers. Pellets are usually packaged in forty pound bags and sold by the bag or by the ton (fifty bags on a shipping pallet). Some mills offer twenty pound bags for easier handling.

Video of Pellet Products Process

What are common characteristics of all pellet fuels?

Although the chemical constituents and moisture content of different biomass...
Pellet Stoves/Corn/Biomass CONSUMERS GUIDE TO PELLETS PART TWO
Installation, Venting, Maintenance and Use.

As you choose the appliance, you will be asked to provide information and make decisions about installation details. Professional guidance in these matters is both helpful in choosing the optimum system for your needs and essential to proper performance and safety. Knowing installation basics can help you communicate your preferences and understand professional recommendations. Note: The following information was prepared by HEARTH Education Foundation, in cooperation with the Hearth Products Association and the Pellet Fuel Institute.

PLACEMENT

What factors determine appliance location?

For maximum enjoyment and heating effectiveness, a major living area where the family spends leisure hours and which provides heat flow to other areas is usually a strongly preferred location for the stove. The pellet heating professional considers the factors that determine whether installation requirements can be met in the homeowner’s preferred location:

Venting. May be limited by factors like obstructions above vertical venting through the ceiling and roof or by the distance to an outside wall for horizontal venting.Outside air for combustion, if needed. Must be drawn from an approved location.

Space requirements. Must meet minimum clearances between the stove and combustibles. More space than the minimum required may be desirable to provide room for convenient operation and service.

Electrical requirements. Proximity to properly wired outlet.

What are my choices for floor protection?

The floor must be protected according to manufacturer’s instructions. The minimum size of the noncombustible floor protector is clearly specified in installation instructions. The choice of suitable materials usually requires professional assistance if a suitable hearth is not already available in the home. Built in appliances may require additional protection such as an air space between the appliance and...
Burning shelled corn as a fuel can be a feasible way of dealing with the high prices of more conventional fuels such as fuel oil, propane, natural gas, coal, and firewood. Utilizing corn as a fuel does not compete with the food supply needed for nourishment throughout the world. While it is recognized that malnutrition is a serious global problem, the world is not experiencing a food production problem. Instead the world faces political challenges associated with providing infrastructure systems for food distribution and storage.

Countryside Magnum Corn Stove

Contemporary agricultural systems can produce sufficient quality and quantity of food for the world’s population, with additional resources available so that agricultural products can be used as fuel, pharmaceuticals, and chemical feedstocks. Shelled corn is a fuel that can be produced within 180 days, compared to the millennia needed to produce fossil fuels.

Corn fueled appliances include stoves, fireplace inserts, built-in fireplaces and central heaters. As with many Pellet Stoves, Corn units often do not need an entire chimney system since they can be vented directly out the side wall (Direct Vent). Ask your dealer or installer for more information once you select a model.
Original article by:
Dennis Buffington
Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Penn State University
Reprinted with permission


LOCATING A SUPPLIER OF SHELLED CORN

Do not purchase a corn-burning stove or boiler without first identifying a reliable supplier of shelled corn. To find suppliers of shelled corn, contact the feed and seed stores in your area as well as any feed mills and grain elevators. The Extension Office in your county or the land-grant university in your state may also be able to identify suppliers of shelled corn. If you know any farmers, contact them directly to inquire if they or other farmers they know will sell shelled corn to you on a direct basis. Be sure that the moisture content of the shelled corn that you buy is no higher than 15.5 % for good combustion characteristics and for safe storage of the corn. (See the link for “Quality of Shelled Corn” on the homepage of the web site.)

Generally, it will be cheaper to buy the corn directly from a farmer than from a feed mill or elevator. Probably the most expensive place to buy shelled corn is from a fireplace/hearth shop where the corn is sold in cute little decorated bags. In many cases, it will be necessary to purchase a large amount of corn at a time to get the cheapest price for the corn. You may find it is necessary to purchase 25 bushels (1,400 pounds) to 100 bushels (5,600 pounds) to negotiate the cheapest price. Whenever discussing price, be sure to consider the cost for the delivery of the corn to your home.

The price of corn fluctuates throughout regions of the U. S. and throughout each year. It is impossible for any supplier to provide a firm price for corn over an extended period of time, unless you buy the corn on a futures contract. You may be able to negotiate a price that is a fixed number of cents higher than the price of corn on the commodity market at the time of your purchase.

QUALITY OF SHELLED CORN

For best results,...
Pellet Stoves/Corn/Biomass PELLET - INSTALLING A PELLET OR CORN STOVE
Pellets and corn stoves are experiencing a new wave of popularity. These homegrown fuels are renewable and can often cost less than other heating fuels. This article will deal with some of the basic dos and donts in relation to FREESTANDING Pellet Stoves.

Pellet stoves vary widely in terms of features, price and quality - don't just go out and buy the first one that meets your eye and budget. You will have to live with your choice for a long time, so make certain you do your homework BEFORE purchasing.

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.

What will they do during the warranty period? What, if any, costs will be billed to you? What will they do after the warranty period? What will the costs be?

As one Hearth.com reader stated "There are a number of people locally who can fix my oil burner, but only one who can fix my pellet stove'. Please keep that in mind, especially if your pellet stove is an important (or sole) source of heat for an area of your home.

It is important to plan your installation before buying a Pellet stove. Most companies have PDF copies of the owners manuals online, and a copy should be obtained and studied. Don't assume that your local dealer is always going to do the installation correctly - or, more accurately, they...
Central Furnaces,Boilers and OWB PELLET AND CORN CENTRAL FURNACES AND BOILERS
Pellet and Corn Furnaces and Boilers

Introduction

Over the past decade, a quiet revolution has been taking place in Europe and in certain parts of North America, centering on the use of locally-produced wood pellets and corn or corn/pellet mixtures for residential central heat. The increasing popularity of these heaters is largely being driven by high fossil fuel costs, although the perception that these fuels are “green” and renewable is also a factor for some consumers. However the fact remains that until the very recent sharp increases in the price of oil and LP, alternative fuel central heating systems were not in high demand on this side of the Atlantic.

As with chunk firewood and coal, central heating with refined fuels such as wood pellets and shelled corn has a number of advantages over space or “spot” heat typically produced by stoves. It allows the entire house to be heated evenly and respond to the settings of a wall thermostat. The heat can be zoned, allowing for different areas of the house to be heated on demand. Domestic hot water (DHW) can be produced as well, providing additional savings. Central heat also keeps most of the mess and dust of solid fuel in the basement, utility room or outbuilding.

The new generation of pellet/corn appliances is available in both hot air configurations (furnaces) or hot water (boiler) models. All use automatic feeding systems, either from a built-in hopper or an external bin. Typical maximum outputs range from 50,000 to 100,000 BTU (14 to 28 KW) per hour, enough to satisfy most residential heating needs.

Is a pellet or corn furnace or boiler right for you?

An add-on central heating appliance represents a substantial investment, usually costing from $6,000 (hot air) to $12,000 (hot water) for an installed system. Although mostly automatic, you will have to deal with buying fuel, loading pellets into the hopper or bin, removing the ash and general service and maintenance. And you should...
Pellet-burning appliances are simpler to operate and more convenient than other wood-burning appliances. In fact, they are almost as easy to use as gas, oil, or electric heaters. These stoves and inserts burn wood pellets—compressed wood which resembles rabbit food.

Wood Pellets

Typical Pellet Stove Pellet-burning appliances rely on sophisticated computers and circuit boards to determine how much pellet fuel should be burned. Most models have at least two burn settings and some use thermostats to control the fire. They also use a forced-air system to distribute heat. Pellet-burning appliances are highly efficient and pollute very little. Depending on the model, they may furnish between 10,000 and 60,000 Btu per hour.

Because these appliances burn wood so efficiently, they do not typically need a standard chimney. Rather, they exhaust fumes through a small hole in the wall to the outdoors. This pipe is called Pellet Vent or Class L chimney, and consists of a stainless steel interior and an aluminum or galvanized exterior. Pellet stoves and inserts can also be vented up through existing masonry and prefab (class A) chimneys, but the chimney typically must be relined with a smaller size of stainless steel single wall pipe.

Pellet-burning appliances need to be refueled less frequently than most other wood-burning appliances. Refueling varies from once a day to twice a week, depending on the model and your heating needs. To refuel, you simply pour the pellets into a hopper, which holds between 35 and 130 pounds of pellets. A corkscrew-shaped device called an auger then transfer pellets to the fire chamber.

Promote your Product here - email webinfo@hearth.com

There are two types of auger feed systems, bottom-fed and top-fed loading systems. Some models are capable of burning corn in addition to pellets. Others can use lower grades of pellets, a good feature for the future when pellets may be...
Central Furnaces,Boilers and OWB USING STORAGE TANKS WITH BIOMASS BOILER SYSTEMS.
Water storage can be a great addition to a wood or pellet boiler system, however you must plan the system well in order to gain the maximum advantage. You can use the calculator below to get a rough idea of how much water storage you might need to achieve your goals.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Maximum temperature of storage
170 180 190
*Lowest temp of storage
110 120 130 140 150 160
*Gallons of Storage
120 240 400 600 800
If you planned well, you now can build the perfect system to suit your needs and get even more comfort from your renewable biomass fuel.
DIscussion of Storage and Storage Tanks..... Note, you can find a vast array of information on our Boiler Room Forum - and even get your personal questions answered! Here are some specific Boiler Room links:
Pressurized Storage Control by Nofossil

Let's start with the basics of combustion and wood burnings. Wood burns cleanest and most efficient when burning very hot! For that reason, many of the new downdraft ceramic base (also called gasifiers) boilers are designed to only burn at very high rates - often higher than what is needed to heat the home. As a result, such a system will turn itself off when the house is up to temperature and the water in the boiler reaches it's set point (usually 180-190 degrees F). This so-called idle mode produces vapors and liquids which are corrosive to the boiler and may also result in more smoke and creosote in the chimney system.

Since the weather and heat load differ daily, it is virtually impossible to accurately size a wood boiler for all winter conditions. At many times the boiler will be too big - and at some times it may even struggle to keep up with a very heavy heating and DHW load. These are cases where large water storage systems can help.
A water storage system takes any excess output of the boiler and stores it in water tanks. Then, when this heat is needed, it can be drawn...