Cindy Gagnon-Daneau

Tips and Tricks—Cleaning Auxiliary Heating Systems

With our bitterly cold winters, what is more comforting and warm than sitting in front of a roaring fire in your fireplace? That being said, it is very important to have wood-burning stoves cleaned in the fall to prevent fires. Take a look at our little guide of best practices related to prevention and to maintaining auxiliary heating systems.

Tip—The Best Firewood

A number of Canadian families use firewood, so it is relatively easy to purchase wood on classified ad websites such as Facebook Marketplace, Kijiji, or LesPAC. When making your selection, aim for maple, birch, oak, or ash due to their high heat value, which means their flames and the coal bed last longer. The price of a cord varies between $100 and $150 with home delivery.

Once you receive the wood, all that is left to do is to stack it in an area that is protected from weather conditions and to cover only the top to allow it to breathe and dry out properly.

Recommendation—Chimney Sweeping

Annual chimney sweeping is strongly recommended after the use of two to four cords of wood. Good maintenance prevents creosote buildup caused by soot. In Quebec, it is one of the leading causes of chimney fires. It is also preferable to do business directly with chimney sweeps certified by the Association des professionnels du chauffage (APC; association of heating professionals). They are in the best position to fully and safely clean your auxiliary heating system.

The key recommendations of chimney sweeping experts are as follows:

  • If you have a key on your auxiliary heating system, leave it open to allow for good ventilation and to fuel the fire adequately.
  • Avoid burning waxed paper, chip bags, or any similar waste at all costs. Instead, use regular or ecological logs and paper that has no wax when starting your fire.

Did you know that pellet stoves also need annual sweeping, after the use of approximately 40 bags? A number of people do not know this, but the wood chips used for this type of heating system also leave soot in the chimney.

Do Oil Furnaces Need Sweeping or Not?

Yes! A number of owners of oil furnaces do not know that their furnace requires annual maintenance as a condition of its installation. Chimney sweeping must be carried out every two to three years, depending on use during the year. Insufficient maintenance can lead to soot spillage or the complete shutdown of the heating system.

Can Auxiliary Heating Systems Be Used in Montreal and Its Boroughs?

Since October 1, 2018, all owners with a wood-burning system (stove or fireplace) can use it as long as it is EPA-certified with an emission rate of 2.5 g/h. To find out if your auxiliary heating system complies with requirements from the city of Montreal, refer to your installation manual or contact the retailer directly.

Moreover, when smog warnings are issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada, it is strictly prohibited to use auxiliary heating systems. That being said, owners can use their fireplaces or stoves during a power outage in the winter that lasts for more than three hours, even if they are not compliant.

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