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How Often Does a Pellet Stove Flue Need Cleaning?

Pellet stoves are a very economical and effective way to heat your home during the cold winter. They are also energy-efficient, dispersing the heat comfortably into the surrounding room by burning eco-friendly fuels of compressed wood and biomass pellets. To maintain safety and maximum efficiency, you need to clean the stove and the flue, but the frequency depends upon how often you use it.
  1. Beginning and End of the Season

    • At minimum, every pellet stove needs to be cleaned at the beginning and the end of the heating season. This includes cleaning everything from the flue to the burn pot. When pellets burn, the very fine ash leaves a layer on everything and can become a fire hazard if not properly cleaned. After a long time without use, it is best to clean the unit to remove debris as well as obstructions that have built up since the last use. Only pellet stove maintenance professionals and knowledgeable owners should perform cleaning or maintenance tasks beyond cleaning the burn pot, glass and heat exchanger. These advanced cleaning tasks include cleaning the flue, lubricating the fans and replacing gaskets.

    For Regular Use

    • When you use your pellet stove regularly, you should check its ventilation, including the flue, every month for ash buildup. If there is buildup, wait until the stove and all its contents are completely cool. Vacuum up any ash in the burn pot and ash drawers. Using cleaning brushes and extensions as necessary from your stove's retailer, brush out the flue to remove ash buildup. This promotes a cleaner, stronger burn from your stove.

    For Infrequent Use

    • If you use your pellet stove infrequently during the cooler months, you should check for built-up ash every two months or so. Cleaning will vary by how frequently you burn pellets in the stove, however. The less often you use it, the less often you need to clean it. However, upon noticing ash buildup in the flue, it is important to clean it soon because it presents a fire hazard.

    Manufacturer's Instructions

    • These are general guidelines to cleaning your stove and its flue. It is always best to follow your stove manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and maintenance. Pellet stoves vary in design; some are easier to clean, while others are best done by professionals. The manufacturer's instructions give time lines and guidelines for cleaning tasks, including cleaning the flue, according to use and type of pellets burned.