Your wood boiler smokes when combustion is not complete. This smoke pollutes the air and increases your heating costs. Fortunately, there's a way to reduce pollution and waste, which will also reduce the cost of heating your home. Here are some ways to burn wood safely and efficiently.
1. Burn seasoned wood only
The weight of green wood is 50% moisture. The moisture is released as clouds of water vapor before the wood can begin to heat your home. Use seasoned wood only as it burns hotter and more efficiently and it will reduce the accumulation of creosote on your stovepipe.
2. Keep your fires small and hot
If you want to burn volatile gases quickly and get them out your home, keep your fires small and hot. This will also improve your home's air quality and reduce the hazards of toxic gases and smoke. However, there's some work involved: you'll need to load smaller amounts of wood and tend to the boiler more often than normal.
3. Install a stack thermometer on the flue
Use the thermometer to monitor the gas temperatures as they leave the boiler. Ideally, the temperature should be 149-205 degrees centigrade for optimum boiler efficiency and to reduce pollution.
4. Remove excess ashes
Remove ashes to reduce clogs, which block the stove's air-intake vents and reduce the amount of oxygen needed for complete combustion.
5. Insulate your home
Draughts will reduce your boiler's efficiency, so insulate your walls and loft, and seal your windows, doors and letterboxes. Proper insulation will reduce the amount of wood needed to heat your home; the result will be less air pollution.
6. Check your smokestack
Check the emissions from the boiler to determine its efficiency. If the wood burns without smoke or creosote, it means the boiler is clean and efficient.
7. Service your boiler
Inspect your wood boiler at least once or twice a year to detect potential problems. Hire a professional to check for warping, clogs, and creosote.
8. Use the right size for your home
While you might be tempted to choose a smaller boiler to save money, that is a false economy. The boiler should be the right size for the area it's expected to heat. If it's too small, it will not heat the room properly when it's cold outdoors. But if it's too bulky, you'll need to damp it down, which will cause a lot of creosote.
This is another instance where your home's insulation is crucial - you'll keep more of the heat if there's sufficient insulation. Measure the area and take the measurements to the dealer who will recommend a boiler based on your home's square footage.
9. Purchase an efficient boiler
Obviously, your budget will determine the type of wood boiler you purchase, but if you make it your goal to purchase an efficient boiler, it will pay off in the long run. Technology has improved these appliances to the point where there's very little smoke, which reduces pollution. So if you're still using a smoky boiler in the corner, it might be time to replace it with an energy efficient one.
10. Use only the manufacturer approved fuel in the boiler
Don't use fuel your boiler was not designed to use. For instance, don't use coal if the manufacturer recommends wood only. Household waste, plastics, paper, artificial logs, treated wood, and other materials will not only ruin your catalytic combustor, but also emit harmful gases and pollute the air you breathe.
Keeping your chimney clean
Keeping your stovepipe and chimney clean will maintain your boiler's efficiency and reduce the risk of fire. It's vital that you follow the operating manual and clean the catalytic combustor with a soft brush when needed.
However, preventative maintenance and extensive cleaning must be completed by a professional chimney sweep. This person will keep your chimney in proper working order and make sure that leaks and cracks are repaired before they pose serious risks to your family's safety.
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