Snow coming off barn roof at Vermont Iron Stove Works

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Cleaning your secondary air tubes

I have found that is a good idea to periodically clean the secondary air tubes. It is not as difficult as you would imagine. I would recommend either an air hose or a vacuum hose that actually blows air. Hold the air source up to each of the tubes on the back of the stove, and give it a good puff of air for a second or two to clear any fine powder that collects around the holes in the tube inside of the stove. Warning! do not consider setting up any kind of permanent forced air supply for the tubes as it will cause the stove to over-fire. There are videos on youtube of guys who think this is a good way to have their barrel stoves burn hotter. It is a bad idea. if you have any questions, call me at 802 229 5661, Steve

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Warming Shelf make-over video

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35 years and counting

People often ask how long an Elm stove will last.

When we started building them back in 1976 we told them to expect them to last 15 years. When you first start making a product you have no way of knowing how long it will last or what you need to do to keep them in good condition.

Now, 35 years later, I have proven to you that there are stoves that have stood the test of time. I have met and spoken with many owners of those older Elm stoves. I have rebuilt a fair number of them and produced and posted videos of the process for you to watch and study, and use as a guide to rebuilding older Elm stoves yourselves with my coaching.

I am not aware of any other stove maker who can say that.

We have upgraded the parts where necessary. We have added a unique system of secondary air, both to fit the old stoves, including complete transformations of catalytic Elms in the cases where the owners did not want the burden of that type of firebox design. We offer all necessary parts to keep these stoves alive for many years to come. You can now expect an Elm stove to last a lifetime, and in many cases, from generation to generation. Thank you for your loyalty to these fine stoves, and the best of luck enjoying them for many years to come!

Steve Slatter
Vermont Iron Stove Works, LLC
355 Henning Rd.
Montpelier, Vermont 05602

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Stove pipe damper adjusting in cold weather

I have received several questions from Elm owners asking about stove pipe damper adjusting to control overnight burns.

While generally a good air tight stove does not need this, there are cases where it is helpful.

The chimney draft increases significantly as the outside temperatures drop, and during periods of high barometric pressure. As we go into the deep freeze during the next two months, I find that there are nights when I want to at least partially close the damper in addition to closing the draft in the stove door. Yes, I do load the stove up for the long overnight burns. I found more than the usual amount of hot coals this morning since I closed down the pipe damper.

There is a trade-off, however. If you close it down you have more coals, but less heat during the night. Conversely, if you leave it open there are fewer coals, and more heat during the night. Some of you might want to do this to save wood, adding less wood before bed. If your stove is oversized for the space, that might work. For those whose stoves are not big enough, it can cause you to wake up to a house that is cooler than you prefer.

Some of you with larger stoves might want to load them all the way and have significantly longer burn times. Others might want to load less wood and fire the stove hot, giving it more air, and having a more efficient burn. I can not advise you on what is best. It is often a lifestyle decision, and you need to work that out for your own personal needs. If you have questions, I’d be happy to go over the alternatives with you.

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New Paint for the 36″ Wildfire Elm test stove

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Allowing more air through the draft gives the 36″ Wildfire better performance.

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Stove and pipe cleaning tips

I always recommend that you have your chimney cleaned once a year. I have spoken to several customers over the years who clean it more often than that. Burning wood that is not well seasoned will cause more powder to accumulate on the inside of the chimney. An outdoor chimney which is exposed to the cold air will also have more powder to clean. I find that if I take apart the 4′ or so of single wall pipe from the stove to the chimney and clean it fairly often, the stove works much better. It breathes easier with the inside walls of the pipe smoother. The other thing I did this morning was to completely clean out all the ash and coals, so I could remove the pipe. I used a new tool, called a grain scoop, made of galvanized sheet metal. I bought it from a feed store. When I start the new fire I also notice improved performance. My normal routine is to remove a few scoops of grey ash from the front of the stove, about 2 times each week during the heating season. By removing everything you create more room for wood and hot coals. If you expect some days of cold weather coming, it is a good time to do this. You may want to be putting more wood in the stove for those cold nights. It is not necessary to remove the firebricks or vacuum the stove out. Leaving ash between the bricks is perfectly fine. Bricks that are broken still do their job, unless you find that you are scooping out pieces of brick when you clean the stove out. These are called “splits” and measure 1.25″ thick by 4.5″ wide and 9 inches long, if you need to find replacements. In an 18″ Elm one row of them are cut to 8″ long. In a 24″ Elm one row of them are half bricks, 4.5″ by 4.5″.

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Burning wood pellets in an Elm stove

Over the years a few people have asked if it is okay to burn wood pellets in an Elm stove. While they are known to burn very hot, adding a scoop once in a while is no problem. I have been experimenting with adding a scoop when I have a log that still has some moisture in it. What I see is the vigorous flame activity in the front of the stove, which helps to ignite the barely seasoned log and raising the skin temp of the stove more quickly.

In general I am not a big fan of the pellet stoves. I hear of technical issues having to do with the motors and fans that are needed to make them work. So, to answer the question of whether Elms will ever be available to burn pellets, yes, if you can work a scoop, you can burn pellets!

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Starting a fire in an Elm stove

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