Traditional open fireplaces undoubtedly look good and create a cozy atmosphere in a cold and snowy evening, but their efficiency is not particularly impressive.
That is why many people go for wood stoves — not exactly a high-tech heating solution, but certainly a fairly safe and reliable one.
In the end, every time electricity fails, your wood stove will keep you warm, provided you haven’t run out of firewood.
There are a few chores that you have to do in order to ensure proper maintenance of your wood-burning stove.
Apart from the obvious, like removing ash or cleaning, every now and then you also need to change the stove door gasket.
Why is it needed and how to perform it? Read on and find out all about the replacement of a wood stove door gasket.
Wood Stove Door Gaskets—What Are They?
Gaskets are one of the most essential elements of a wood-burning stove or fireplace insert that prevents the air from getting into the firebox elsewhere other than through controllable vents.
Gaskets, usually made of fiberglass, look like a piece of braided rope that is fitted into a groove going around the perimeter of the stove door to create an airtight seal.
Thanks to this airflow control — and the resulting control of the temperature inside the stove — the best possible efficiency of a wood stove can be provided.
Also, the tight door seal reduces the risk of harmful combustion products getting into the room when the appliance is being used.
That is why making sure that your stove rope gasket is working properly is a matter of vital importance.
When Should Gaskets Be Replaced?
In order to determine when you should replace your wood stove gasket, several factors need to be taken into account.
First, consult the appliance manual to find out what your stove manufacturer recommends.
It is usually suggested that door gaskets ought to be checked every year before another heating season starts.
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The evaluation of your door gasket’s condition is pivotal — any indication that the gasket doesn’t provide a really tight seal calls for immediate action on your part.
Gaskets are exposed to chemical reactions occurring during the combustion process in which burning wood leaves an oily residue on the stove chimney and walls.
Consequently, the gasket becomes stiffer, which makes the wood stove door adhere less tightly and allow too much air inside the firebox.
Another factor that affects the condition of your gasket is that it may become brittle, especially at the ends that are supposed to stick to each other firmly in order to maintain an airtight seal.
The poorer the condition of the material, the more likely it is for the gasket to fail to perform its main function properly.
Many people are concerned when they observe that the color of the gasket has changed.
Since discoloration is a natural process resulting from a gradual loss of pigment, it doesn’t mean that a new seal is needed; unless your old gasket is still working well, you don’t need to replace it.
How to quickly check whether your gasket provides a good seal or not? A sheet of paper is all you need.
Place the sheet between the door and the stove body (half of it inside, the other half outside), close the door and try to pull the paper.
If there is not much resistance and you can pull it out easily, your gasket requires replacement.
Gasket Replacement in a Few Steps
When the time has finally come, and you realize that a new gasket is needed, the good news is that you are able to replace it without any external help.
Follow the steps described below and you will get the work done sooner than you think.
In order to facilitate the whole operation, carefully remove the door from your stove.
Before you do it, check the details of the door removal procedure that you should find in the manual provided with the stove.
Place the door face down on a flat surface and make sure you have gathered all necessary tools, such as a flat head screwdriver, a putty knife, a high-temperature adhesive, eg silicone, or gasket cement, a pair of scissors and a new gasket of the correct size.
It is important that you establish the right diameter of your rope gasket, as they come in different sizes, depending on the type of stove.
One simple way to do it is to cut off a piece of your old rope and take it to a hardware store where you can get professional advice.
You can also order it online; in that case you will need to measure the width and depth of the gasket channel.
Make sure the two measurements are accurate because your replacement gasket has to fit your stove perfectly.
In general, it is always advisable to follow the specifications in the manual for both the correct diameter and density of the gasket for your stove.
Locate the ends of the old rope and grab them (you may need to use a screwdriver to lift them up) so that you can remove the gasket from the stove door.
Peel off as much of the old adhesive as possible.
As the glue may be difficult to remove, use your screwdriver or a putty knife to scrape the remains out of the locating groove, paying special attention to the corners.
Then use a wire brush to make the whole surface clean.
Hold the new rope in the groove to see what the desired length is and cut the rope so that both ends can meet with no overlapping or gap.
If you want to prevent the rope ends from fraying, you can wrap some tape around them for a neat finish.
Remove the rope and apply a reasonable amount of the adhesive into the entire stove door groove.
Decide where you want the two ends of the new gasket to meet and start placing one end of the rope at that point.
Proceed gently and avoid stretching or squeezing the rope; just let it settle in the groove.
Let the adhesive dry before you reinstall the door — the amount of time you need to wait depends on the kind of glue that has been used (from several to 24 hours).
Refit the door, close it and carry out the paper test mentioned above to check whether the new door gasket is sufficiently airtight.
Make sure you check all the four edges of the stove door.
Leave the door closed for 12 hours to allow the adhesive to set and bond the seal. Then you can fire your wood stove.
Getting it all done well
As you can see, the whole procedure of the gasket replacement is not particularly complicated if you have the right tools and proper materials.
In case of any doubts, look for the information in your wood stove manual or consult a specialist who is most likely to offer you some good advice.
So, get the work done smoothly and let the pleasant warmth of the fire spread around your room!