First, let me say I'm both new to these forums and new to wood stoves as heat sources. I see a lot of information is available here and plan to do a great deal more reading in the next three weeks (prior to beginning use of the stove) but I am becoming very concerned about some possible issues with the stove and could use some experienced advice about them. The stove is a Vermont Castings Resolute; I found a picture of the same model here: http://hearth.com/gall/v/WoodStoves/vc_res.jpg.html just mentally remove the pot on top and the little platform (side table?) clamped on the left side. I am not sure what you would need to know to be able to answer my questions. The stove is free standing (not a fireplace insert) with a very tall, straight chimney. I am uncertain how many feet the chimney goes up but it exits the roof near the centerline in a room with a "cathedral" ceiling. The picture at the link above shows glass in the tops of the double doors on the front of the stove, but this one has metal plates in place of the glass. The plates were substituted for the glass by the owner at some point in the past. Here's a list of the issues I'd like some help with: 1) The chimney collar inside the house was dangling loose on one side --hanging down several inches-- when I first saw the place. I pointed it out and the collar was re-attached to the ceiling before I moved in. However, there are two long white and brown streaks running down the chimney pipe from under the collar to maybe 1/3 of the way down the pipe towards the stove. I can't tell if the longer one runs further down because at that point the pipe slides inside of another longer section that comes up from the stove. I've been told the streaks are "nature" and that it's possible there is a squirrel nest up inside there, and that if there is and they don't just leave any dead ones can be "burned out" when the stove is first lit. I should mention there has been no rain in the area for quite a while, but I don't know when the streaks first appeared and can't make an assessment on whether or not they might be caused by some kind of leak. I also haven't the faintest idea what exactly could or should be done about them. 2) There is a great deal of rust on the back corner of the stove that also houses the two damper controls. I don't know what the controls are actually called, one opens a small rectangle on the outside at the back bottom of the stove, the other opens the metal piece that closes off the bottom of the chimney inside the stove. The rust pattern looks as if someone spilled water from the top surface down the back corner all the way to the floor when the stove was cold and left it wet. Even the small metal circle under that corner's "foot" is rusty. I've sanded and primed/painted regular metal objects myself in the past and know it's often difficult to get every bit of rust off, but am concerned about the fact that the sanding on this stove was only done by hand and that there was still a lot of reddish surface left when the heat resistant paint was sprayed on. How critical is it to remove all rust on a stove like this? 3) There is no gasket around the upper surface lid, only a partial/fraying gasket around the outside of the double doors on the stove front, and a gasket around only one of the metal plates that are replacing the glass in those doors. (The other metal plate has a gasket piece around the bottom but the rest of the gasket sort of let loose and just flops around the metal plate under that iron grill that used to protect the glass.) The lid and front door gaskets are supposed to be replaced at some point in the future, but I am wondering how important it might be to also put gaskets around the metal plates that have been used to replace the glass windows in the front doors? 4) If you look at the chimney OUTSIDE the house, most of it is silvery in color, but the top part is very black. Many people in the area use wood stoves, and I have been looking at their chimneys while walking or driving by their homes. Everyone elses' outside chimney seems to be silvery colored all the way up. I've read a bunch about having chimneys swept to remove creosote, and I have no idea when the chimney was last swept. Is the blackening up top a sign of creosote buildup? 5) This isn't precisely a maintenance issue, but the stove's double doors and single handle for them confuse me. I have opened and closed them a few times and can't figure out how one is supposed to use them while adding wood when the stove is already hot. Every video I have found and watched shows stoves with ONE door. The problem I keep running into is that the single handle, on the right side door, basically does nothing with the left side door. All I can think of is to grab the left side door manually and pull it open to add wood, then shut it most of the way manually so that the handle on the right can engage it to lock both doors closed. Is that right? After reading about stoves reaching 400 to 800 degrees I am a little scared of trying that with anything heatproof I own now. One video mentioned getting welder's gloves to use with wood stoves; is that what people use here and if it is, where do you get them? The wood stove is the only source of heat here, so I appreciate any and all help with becoming proficient using it!