Everyday people find my blog when they Goggle for information on wood stoves. I've been running my wood stove 24/7 through the winter months since the year 2000, and hopefully my experience can help some of you. Today I have chosen to write on topics that frequently show up on my site meter."Why is my wood stove turning white?"
The old stoves use to be polished up regularly to keep them looking nice. Stove blacking was used. It was a process of rubbing this waxy paste onto the stove and then curing it by starting the stove up slowly--an extremely stinky process that would probably cause our smoke alarms to go off and would need to be done with the windows open and the residents out of the house.
Newer stoves, however, are usually coated with a heat-resistant paint. As the stove heats and cools repeatedly, this paint begins to have hairline cracks that eventually become noticeable, making the stove look as though it is turning white.
Stoves can be repainted. Cans of heat-resistant spray paint allow you to do the job in your house. Rub the stove down with steel wool beforehand, and follow the directions on the can carefully (or better yet, do some research on the subject before you get started). Be sure to protect from splatters. You need to know that it is a temporary fix because it will start cracking all over again when the stove cools and heats.
My stove has an enamel coating. It has been used 24/7 for around 10 years now and I've never had problems with this. I think I'm glad I got the stove I did!
What should the temperature be on the stove pipe and where on the stove pipe should I put a thermometer?
My stove pipe thermometer shows that a good range of temperatures is between 400 and 900F. I notice that if there is any creosote buildup in the pipe, it will begin to crackle and give off a burnt smell when it hits around 900 degrees--which, if allowed to ignite, could turn into a chimney fire. A fire that is burning so low that it drops below 400 may go out unless you are using a catalytic converter. My stove often runs much lower than 400 due to the catalytic--200 degrees is not uncommon.
When we purchased our stove pipe thermometer, I know the instructions stated where to put it. There was a range that was considered acceptable--but I don't recall what they recommended; mine is 19 inches above the surface of the stove. I've found recommended heights to be anywhere from 5 inches to 5 feet. Best I can do is to tell you to follow the instructions on your thermometer!
This is the thermometer we have and can recommend: Condor Flue Thermometer
How hot should the stove top temperature be?
My owner's manual for my Vermont Castings Defiant says that a griddle temperature of 350-500F (175-260C) is low to medium output, 500-600F(260-315) is medium, and 600 to 750F (315-385C) is high heat output. My owner's manual then states, "Operating your Defiant continuously at griddle temperatures of 750 degrees F (385C) or higher may damage the cast iron or enamel finish." They also say that when the stove gets below 350F, it is time to increase the air flow or reload the stove.
My stove top thermometer states that when the stove top gets below 250F, there is danger of building creosote in the chimney. 250 to 550F is a good burn zone, and over 550 is running hot.
My experience with my stove? It will run from 350 to 650F easily enough, but it does not get much above that unless I am stoking the stove and forget to watch it...which I work hard to never do, and when it gets below 350F, it is time to reload.
As always, check your owner's manual and be sure to do research on your type of stove. It would be better to heat with a more expensive fuel than to burn down your home! Do it right or don't do it at all!
Other Shades of White wood stove blog entries: