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Three Warning Signs Your Wood Stove Needs Replacing

He lives in a town where the average date of the season's first measurable snow is September 30, and where the average winter temperature is -7.9°F. So, it’s safe to say that Clint Severns, fireplace installer at The Woodway Inc. in Fairbanks, Alaska, knows a few things about staying warm all winter long.

He urges wood stove owners to follow the routine maintenance suggested in their owner’s guide, and also to hire a professional sweep every spring. “That’s a good time to have an evaluation completed,” he says. The average life of a wood-burning stove is 10 to 20 years.

Warning sign one: Steel warping: “If the top of the stove starts to look like rolling ocean waves instead of a smooth, flat surface, that indicates the steel is compromised, probably not just on the top but throughout the unit,” Clint says. “Warping will allow more air to enter into the stove than it was engineered to contain, and that will reduce efficiency.”

Warning sign two: Shortened burn times: “It’s a good idea to pay attention to burn times,” Clint says. “If the stove gets really hot, but burns out quickly, that could be because of a leak in a crucial area like the door, gasket seal or ash pan. After a while, the stove will behave almost as if the door were open all the time.”

Warning sign three: Sluggish performance: “You might be struggling to light the stove, or find you’re smoking out the house when you’re lighting it. That could mean the baffle has caved in, or other welded components have warped.”

While it’s never fun to have to replace a hard-working appliance, Clint does note that an upgrade can come with significant benefits: “You’ll notice an efficiency increase going from older technology to newer, as well as updated safety standards. And, depending on how old your previous model was, you might notice significant fuel savings, too.”

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