Pellet stoves burn very efficiently, but wood pellets generally produce less ash than pellets from agricultural waste.
Pellet stoves burn very efficiently, but wood pellets generally produce less ash than pellets from agricultural waste.

The first questions that many people have when it comes to dialogue on pellet stoves is what exactly is a pellet? A pellet actually saves space in landfills by recycling sawdust, agricultural waste, bark, and wood chips and compressing it all into little pellets. The sawdust that is recycled in order to make these pellets would otherwise have been sent to a landfill. These stoves are extremely efficient, more so than regular wood burning stoves. There is very little creosote that is produced by the burning of these pellets, and very little smoke for that matter. There are more advantages to pellet stoves. You purchase pellets in bags like you purchase mulch. They can be stored much more easily than cord wood can be stored. Also, you have many more options when installing a pellet burning stove than you do a wood burning stove in terms of location.

There are pellet stove inserts that fit into an existing fireplace and use a masonry chimney to vent and there are free standing pellet stoves that stand on legs. These two types of installation are similar to the way you install wood burning appliances. There are, however, pellet burning stoves that can be installed in the corner of the room or on a blank wall even. The possibilities are almost endless. Be sure to read carefully exactly what type of installation the manufacturer of your stove recommends before you purchase it, especially if you are looking to install it in a specific area in your home. Following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter is crucial because if you don’t, manufacturer’s warranties may become void. If you install the stove yourself you may also void coverage by insurance; some agencies only insure stoves installed professionally.

Pellet stoves can be up to 85% efficient! This outstanding number provides you with more heat output for what you put in than wood burning stoves. A pellet stove has a hopper that operates like a screw permitting so many pellets to hit the flames per hour. The faster the pellets hit the flame the greater the heat output for the appliance. A fan to induce draft is used to fuel the fire with air for

This pellet stove should be installed in an open area for best heat dispersion.
This pellet stove should be installed in an open area for best heat dispersion.

combustion and increase efficiency. You can install a pellet stove in a condominium or apartment because of its limited emissions. They are ideal for urban settings because you do not need to build a chimney in order for it to draft. To vent a pellet burning stove you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions but, generally speaking, double walled pipe is used. These can route out a side wall or up through the roof but must be in compliance with local building and fire codes as well as follow manufacturer’s instructions.

For best results, install free standing pellet stoves in a wide open area so that the heat can be dispersed evenly throughout the area it is heating. Similarly, it is important to use only the type of pipe that is UL listed for the stove that you have purchased. Using a different kind of pipe than recommended, say using a dryer vent pipe or otherwise, will create a dangerous situation that will almost always void the manufacturer’s warranty. You can vent your pellet stove either directly through a wall, up through the ceiling, or in an existing fireplace. If you vent the appliance through the wall the pipe must continue outside until it reaches above the roof line so that proper draft can occur.

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

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Clay Lamb

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2 thoughts on “Pellet Stove Basics

  1. I have a question…I just had a pellet stove installed. Have only used it about 5 days. Have tar like (creosote) buildup in the pipes. Is there any way to clean this? I

  2. If you have any concerns regarding your pellet stove, I would suggest checking with the manufacture of your unit. A good question to ask is why are you having a creosote problem? Ask yourself a few questions,is the stove being vented properly or choked down to much? Is the flue liner installed properly, is it blocked at the top? The moisture content of the pellet’s themselves could even be an issue that should be evaluated. Again, I would check with the technical department with the pellet manufacture folks.
    Respectfully,
    Clay Lamb

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