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Nicely stacked piles of firewood have been part and parcel of the American landscape for many centuries. The burning of wood fueled all our homes from the tepees and huts of the Native Americans to the Pilgrims of Massachusetts. However, as we entered the modern era, coal and then oil and gas took over much of the work of home heating.

Wood burning has enjoyed a resurgence over the last 30 years as more and more Americans have begun to understand the consequences and the cost of heating with imported oil and other fossil fuels. Wood burning stoves have been joined by their modern cousin, the Pellet Stove, which provides a more automatic and easier operation.

Wood is Good
The stoves of today have changed greatly from the past. Modern technology has been used to design stoves which burn the wood much more cleanly - so clean, in fact, that little or no smoke exits the chimney! These stoves are much more efficient than the pot belly stoves of yesteryear, which means they heat more using less wood.

Wood and Pellet stoves come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. In addition to the free standing stoves you may be familiar with, they are also models which are designed to build into a wall and finish off like a standard fireplace. There are even units which can go into a basement or shed and heat your entire home by circulation of heated air or water through your existing central heating system!

We hear a lot about the benefits of supporting local family farms, shopping local, walking and using our bicycles and other such environmental and community-building efforts. Responsible and clean burning wood burning allows you to Heat Local, while also saving you money and keeping you cozier than many other fuels. Both firewood and wood pellets are renewable fuels and come from close to home. Biomass used for home heating is but a tiny fraction of the yearly growth of the forest, so the use...
Troubleshooting Direct Vent Products
Like Flying into the Bermuda Triangle!

By Ken Rajesky
Note: This article is technical in nature and intended for mechanics who are knowledgeable regarding the service and operation of gas and hearth appliances.

The call comes in from a longtime customer - his year-old direct vent starts up but within minutes the flames disappear. Your chest tightens because you know that severe weather is heading your way and his stove will be a major source of heat should the power go out. Your service guy is straight out with new installations and other service calls. And, if you leave the shop, it may take hours to solve his problem because you are just not sure about troubleshooting direct vented products. So, what do you? The answer is education.


Direct vented products are not the mystery that many service people feel they are. First, what is a direct vented product? Direct vented products are basically sealed systems. That means that combustion air is provided via a sealed intake duct. A separately sealed channel evacuates exhausts from the product. You may a vent system that has the exhaust channel within the combustion air channel. This is called a co-axial vent. Or, you may have two fully separate, sealed channels. A third option is a system that uses both a co-axial and co-linear system. Regardless of which system is used, the product must breathe in, and breathe out. If the product cannot breathe in, it will not have sufficient oxygen to sustain combustion. If the product cannot breathe out, the newly developed exhausts will contaminate the combustion zone not allowing combustion to continue. The advantage of direct vented products is that they are installation flexible, and supply their own combustion air. Another advantage of direct vented products is that they are unaffected by home negative pressures that may cause exhaust...