Question: Craig...thanks for a very comprehensive and interesting site. I live in Montreal Canada and presently our house heating is handled by electricity (100%). Now as you probably have heard, we suffered a large ice storm that saw some houses lose electricity and heat for close to a month. My question to you is about wood stoves. I would like to know what are the most important things (characteristics) to look at when shopping for a wood burning stove? I have heard that some stoves will deteriorate( metal is charred and/or starts thinning because the fire eats at it over time) after only 5 or 10 years. I have heard that some can last a lifetime especially brands like the Vermont Cast stoves. I can go on and on but I would like to find out as much as possible about what to look for. Thank you for your time and expertise Answer: In my experience, most all the stoves on the market today will last a long, long time. I have customers that are still using their Efel brand stoves after 18 years. This was a stove built of thin sheet metal, so you can imagine the expected life of the heavier stoves built today. Longevity is pretty standard in all the stoves today. Some, if not all, will need some maintainance and parts replacement over the years. Glass, Gasketing, Paint, Firebrick, Handles and other parts will have to be checked and replaced if needed. Many people argue over the merits of steel vs. cast-iron. In my real world experience, I have found the opposite of the conventional wisdom, that is that cast-iron stove have needed as much or more attention and parts replacement than steel ones. Rest assured that most all major brands of stoves will last a long, long time.