1. Only burn seasoned firewood. Wood should be split and then stored under cover but with good wind access for at least a year. Splits in the end grain are a good sign of well seasoned wood as is the smell of the wood. A moisture meter can be a handy tool: split a log open and test one of the split faces. Only burn wood under 25% moisture, under 20% is more ideal.
2. Light the stove using dry kindling to heat up the firebox fast. Softwood makes good kindling. The air vents should be fully open when first lighting the stove.
3. When the fire is going well add some bigger logs but do not totally fill the firebox – you want to make sure there is good spacing around and between the logs. When these are burning well you can shut down the air a little. If your stove has primary and secondary air controls then shut down the primary air and control the stove using the secondary air control.
4. Do not slow / slumber burn. Do not “turn the stove down for the night”. There should be good visible flames in the firebox. Some stove users fill their stoves with wood and shut the air vent fully, immediately prior to retiring for the night, in order to keep the woodstove burning all night. This allows the stove to be rekindled in the morning simply by adding more fuel and opening up the air vents. However, this practice should be avoided at all costs – although the burn rate is reduced to such a level that the fire is still burning the following day. Instead of burning the wood to produce mainly carbon dioxide, water and heat, the process is reduced to conversion of the wood into heavy, tarry chemicals which are subsequently deposited on the insides of the flue or chimney. This is a very inefficient process – releasing only a small fraction of the available heat, and causes severe tarring of the flue/chimney which greatly increases the risks of chimney fire, and makes sweeping the chimney necessary more often.
5. Wait till the logs have burnt down to a bed of glowing embers before adding more logs. If you keep adding logs all the time the stove’s efficiency drops by around 15% and more smoke will be produced.
Turn the air up fully to help the new logs catch fire, then back down again once they are going well.
6. When the stove is burning properly (other than when it is first lit) there should be no visible smoke coming out of the chimney. If there is smoke then you are probably doing something wrong.
7.The best air vent adjustment for a wood burning stove is one that delivers the best balance between combustion efficiency (percentage of energy in the wood that gets converted to heat) and thermal efficiency (percentage of heat that stays in the house and does not go up the chimney). Ideally, the flue temperature should remain approximately in the range 300-450°C. If the flue temperature goes above this, then you will be wasting heat up the flue, and if the temperature drops below this, you are likely to cause accelerated deposition of tar and soot in the chimney
8.Sweep your chimney at least once a year before the burning season. The frequency of sweeping depends on how much you burn and what you burn. An indication as to how often you should sweep the chimney is given by the amount of deposits that are produced at each sweeping. Frequent wood burners should sweep at least twice a year.