Pellet stoves are a great way to save energy and money, but they must be maintained properly. Unlike a wood stove, pellet stoves are operated electrically and have circuits and moving parts. Ron Bashista, who does pellet stove sales and service in western MA, said the most important thing a pellet stove owner can do is thoroughly read the owner’s manual. “Even if you’ve had your pellet stove for ten years, take it out from time to time and read it again. You’ll see something new each time,” said Bashista, whose business is called Rolling Acres. Bashista also offered advice on routine and seasonal maintenance of pellet stoves.
After initial installation:
“The first thing you want to do is check the hopper (where the pellets are held) for spare or foreign parts. Whether the pellet stove is new or used, you want to be sure you’re not running something through the auger (the part that moves the pellets to the feed pot for burning),” said Bashista. He added that unless you feel you are skilled enough to do the installation yourself, it’s better to hire a professional. Proper installation and really getting to know your “stove to a T” will lay the groundwork for fewer problems down the line. “If you have trouble right out of the gate, it tends to leave a bad taste in your mouth,” said Bashista.
Preparing your pellet stove for the new heating season:
Bashista said that you want to be sure all parts of the pellet stove, pipes, and chimney ware clean and free of debris or rodents. Any pellets that were in the stove should have been removed at the end of the last heating season. Pellets absorb water and break down, so you need to burn off or scoop out any remaining pellets at the end of the season.
Your chimney may require a cap or screen to keep rodents out. I found this out the hard way myself. Capping your chimney also keeps out rain and moisture. Bashista said it’s important to remember to uncap your chimney before trying to start up your pellet stove for the season.
He said next to do a test run without the fire to make sure nothing froze up during the off season. “You want to be sure the basic mechanical parts are all functioning,” said Bashista.
Pellet stove maintenance during the heating season: