Hearth News

Learn Helpful Tips & Tricks from the Community

Please Note: This brochure was originally published by Tri-Lane Distributing Ltd. of Tottenham, Ontario, Canada to help its dealers clear up some misconceptions about wood energy.
© 1995 Tri-Lane Distributing Ltd. Produced for Tri-Lane and adapted for viewing here by Gulland Associates Inc.


Does heating with wood cause global warming ?

What about local air quality ?

Does wood heating harm the forest ?

Is wood heating safe?

Good questions. Real Answers.

By heating with wood you do not contribute to the greenhouse effect as you would by heating with one of the fossil fuels like oil and gas. When oil and gas are burned, carbon that has been buried within the earth for thousands of years is released in the form of carbon dioxide, a by-product of combustion. The result is an increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the cause of the greenhouse effect.

Although carbon makes up about half the weight of firewood and is released as carbon dioxide when the wood is burned, it is part of a natural cycle. A tree absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as it grows and uses this carbon to build its structure. When the tree falls and decays in the forest, or is processed into firewood and burned, the carbon is released again to the atmosphere. This cycle can be repeated forever without increasing atmospheric carbon. Heating with wood, therefore, does not contribute to the greenhouse effect. And there’s more good news: when the use of wood for energy displaces the use of fossil fuels, the result is a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Wood is not an inherently dirty fuel that causes serious air pollution. While it is true that old technology like open fireplaces and simple heaters could not burn the wood completely, the new generation of woodburning appliances produce almost no visible smoke and deliver...
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Canadian wood heat industry have teamed up to prepare this list of important safety tips for people using a wood stove or fireplace for emergency heating during the power interruption.

Webmasters Note: Although some of the information is Canadian-Specific, the following should help anyone who might find themselves in a similar emergency situation.

1998 Ice Storms in the NE
The ice storms in recent years created a heating emergency because most heating systems need electricity to function. Many householders are using their wood burning stoves and fireplaces to heat their homes during the crisis. A properly installed and operated wood stove or heating fireplace can be a safe and secure way to heat a home. But the use of wet wood, the use of make-shift, temporary wood stove installations, and the continuous use of decorative fireplaces, all increase the risk of a house fire. If possible, get professional help from a qualified installer or chimney sweep. Please take care to keep your family safe until the emergency is over. This message is to assist people in using wood safely as an emergency heating fuel. It covers: how to get the best use of wet wood, some important tips for safe operation, a caution about the use of temporary wood stove installations, a caution about the use of decorative fireplaces, and sources of further information

1. If you must burn WET WOOD, here is how to make the best of a bad situation: split the wood into small pieces about 75 mm (3”) in diameter; small pieces heat up and ignite faster, and burn cleaner brush off snow and chip off ice before bringing wood into the house; try to let it warm up before burning burn small, bright fires, using no more than five sticks at a time

2. Here are some tips for SAFE OPERATION: if you have a battery-operated smoke detector, see that it is working; if you don’t have one, try to get one burn small, bright fires that make...
General Fire Wisdom

Now that your fire is started (see Starting A Fire), you’ll have to learn to keep it going. Here are some general tips before we get into the meat of the matter:

Good Wood ! - First of all. don’t even start unless you have good seasoned firewood of mixed sizes and types. Unseasoned wood or wet wood will only cause frustration. Also, keep a good supply of fire starters and kindling handy…it can be very aggravating attempting to start a fire without small, dry kindling.

Fire needs a “critical mass” in order to burn well. Just one log sitting in a stove will not ignite or burn. You must first establish a good draft in the chimney and a good bed of red-hot embers to achieve a good burn.

A good Flame means a good Fire - Much of the heat from wood is in the form of the gases we know as “smoke”. If you burn your stove improperly, lots of unburnt smoke will escape up the chimney and cause excess creosote (tar) formation on your chimney and also pollute the great outdoors. A proper fire BURNS this smoke. In general you should always see a flame on your fire. This is a simple gauge of whether you are burning properly. A smokey fire is a dirty and inefficient one !

Leave some space between the wood - Musicians say “it’s not the notes we play that make great music, it’s the spaces between the notes”...same with a fire. Cris-Crossing your wood or placing odd-shaped pieces in the fire help the airflow through your stove or fireplace.

Less is More - Generally, it is better to burn Less wood with MORE air to get the most out of your stove or fireplace. A smaller, hotter fire will cause less smoke and creosote than a cold, smoldering one.

Good Draft - If you have a poor chimney suction, or an improper installation, your efforts will be in vain.

Three Types (L to R) Rumford (w/Tepee fire) -...
Watch a short movie on how to start a fire.

Seems like a simple thing…just put some wood in the fire, light a match and there she goes—NOT ! Anyone who regularly fires up their stove or fireplace knows there is much more to it than meets the eye.
I’m not the world’s best tennis player.. I can’t ski over those big bumps (moguls) and I’ve never run a marathon—but I do consider myself one of the world’s foremost experts on starting a fire. I was always a pyromaniac…loved those model rockets, fireworks and anything else that would blow up. I never thought any good would come out of my fascination with fire. Thus, I will pass this hard-earned knowledge down to the next generation. We’ll cover starting fires in closed stoves and open fireplaces. The basics are the same, however the technique can vary especially after the fire is established.

Ok, lets break this down to a simple series of steps. Each one must be done or the fire will be a bust.

1. Make certain the chimney is drafting upwards. Many chimneys will reverse (cold air falls) when not in use. Open the damper of your fireplace and/or the door of your stove..if you feel a cold draft coming down then your chimney has reversed itself. Keep this in mind and follow step #4 below in order to reverse your chimney.

2. Set the Kindling. Yes, everyone does this differently. Here’s the best way. Place firestarters, fatwood or crumpled newspaper (3 or 4 sheets balled up fairly tightly) on the floor or grate of your stove. Place small kindling over the paper or starter…TIP—the more dry, small kindling you have—the easier and better your fire will start. Crisscross the kindling so there is plenty of air space in between each piece. Wood that is packed too tight will not burn properly.

3. Set more Wood. Set larger wood on top of the kindling, and continue to set larger and larger pieces on top until the stove is over 2/3 full. If it’s an open fireplace, set one or...
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...
Woodman Associates - Parts for older and current Stoves and Barbecues, as well as accessories, pipe, chimney, etc. - Stove glass, mica, gasket, and much more. Visit on the web at www.woodmanspartsplus.com

Condar Company - Replacement catalytic converters for most stoves. Visit http://www.woodstovecombustors.com/

Bucks Stove Palace - Parts for Cawley-Lemay woodstoves and also many antique and other models.

Energy Unlimited of New England, Inc. - Parts for many stoves no longer manufactured.

Obadiah’s Stove Parts. - Parts for many pellet and wood stoves

Mountain View stove Parts. - Parts for many wood, gas and pellet stoves!

Hilkoil 1-800-807-7041 fax: 518-377-4004 - Makes Stainless steel water jackets for inside stoves and fireplace.

Pellet Stove Parts:
Energy Parts Plus - source for Pellet and Gas stove/fireplace parts.They supply Retail stores, Technicians and Consumers.

Links for UK and European parts

Stovespares - Stovespares supply a comprehensive range of spare parts for stoves and other stove spares in the UK.

Antique Stove Links


copyright 1992, CONEG Policy Research Center - Reprinted with permission.

Table of Contents

Wood is Good Again.
Which Wood Stove is right for me?
“Cat” and “non-cat” - two different breeds.
What to look for in a stove with a catalytic combustor.
What to look for in a noncatalytic stove.
Shop around for the best stove.
Installing your Wood Stove.
Clearances are extremly important.
Ten Steps to maximum woodburning efficiency.
Call the Chimney Sweep!
The last word on wood

Wood is Good Again.

  Intrepid Stove

A growing awareness of the environmental impact of fossil fuels (such as natural gas, oil and coal) along with the desire to be more energy independent have encouraged a renewed interest in heating with wood. Not too long ago, even the best wood stoves weren’t terribly efficient. In fact, the haze they produced was a sign that homeowners’ hard earned heating money was literally going up in smoke. A lot has changed since 1990. That was when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandated strict particle emissions standards for stove manufacturers. Today, all new wood stoves are EPA-certified. And that means they are much more efficient, and friendlier to the environment as well. But doesn’t burning wood produce pollutants just like coal or oil? Well, the answer is yes…and no. When fossil fuels are taken out of the earth and burned, they produce an overload of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And since these fuels are produced far from where they will ultimately be consumed, mishaps such as oil spills cause other problems. Once burned, fossil fuels are gone forever. Wood is different. As all plants grow, they absorb carbon dioxide from the air and convert it to fiber. The carbon dioxide is released after they die, whether they are burned, or simply left to rot in the forest. This process is part of nature’s cycle. Heating with wood can be both...
It’s one of those questions that is on the mind of every stove consumer - which material is best? In the first independent article of it’s kind, I will try to explain the pros and cons in the simplest terms possible…..

Cast Iron

Cast Iron has always been a popular stove material and with good reasons. The casting process was perfected long before steel and welding were, and so naturally the earliest stoves were of poured iron. From the original Ben Franklin Stoves to the thousands of models that were heating homes in the 1800’s, cast iron was the preferred material.

Cast Iron & Enamel
Benefits of Cast Iron:
1. It stands up well to heat and to changes in temperature. In fact, many car engines are built of cast iron for this reason.
2. It is a strong material - yet it can easily be drilled and tapped (threads installed) to create large assemblies (stoves, etc.)
3. It spreads heat out well…when part of the cast iron gets warm, it conducts the heat well to other parts.
4. It allows for very decorative stoves because mouldings, flutes and other design elements can easily be incorporated into the pattern.
5. It accepts enamel well, which allows for even more decorative and functional finishes.

The design and manufacture of cast iron stoves can be expensive. A manufacturer must have a foundry, which is a factory that melts metal and pours it into sand molds. In addition, each part (some stoves have dozens or more) must have an expensive master pattern made for it. Whenever a change is needed, a new or modified pattern must be created.


In the last few decades, steel plate has become an alternative to cast iron. The mass production of plate steel, along with the availability of improved steel cutting and welding machines and techniques, have created a boom in the production and sales of steel stoves.

Steel Stove w/accents
Earlier steel stoves were quite basic - often simply steel boxes with cast...