Wood Burning Stoves at the Cottage

A Common heating system found in cottages are wood burning stoves.

Terrific on a cool spring or fall night for taking the chill out of the air. Full heating in the winter or a romantic evening cuddled up watching the fire they are hard to beat. It is a very popular and economical heating option.

Vermont Casting Woodstove

There are a variety of designs and finishes that you will encounter in cottages and cabins.

There is really no difference in functionality between cast iron, steel, painted or enamel finishes. The difference will be in personal preference and price but not the heating.

The heating characteristics of wood burning stoves have changed a lot in the past twenty years. You might find older wood burning stoves in quite a few properties.

Be careful, a lot of these stoves may have been installed by the owners without having approval.

Your offer of purchase should include a WETT certification of the stove. Your insurance company will probably require this any way.

The efficiency difference between the older stoves and the high efficiency stoves of today is about a third. This increase in efficiency means that you would use a third less wood, and release approximately 90% less smoke and particles.

The newer stoves use what is called catalytic or non-catalytic combustion.

In catalytic combustion, the smoke is passed through a honeycomb catalyst where the smoke and particles reignite and burn. This honeycomb will break down over time.

Increased life can be expected by not over burning the stove and regular cleaning's. Just to point out these are not cheap to replace, expect several hundred dollars.

The non-catalytic combustion stoves rely on a combination of insulation, large baffles and to pre-heat the combustion air though a series of holes above the wood in the firebox.

Catalytic stoves are a higher performance variety, do carry a premium price tag and require a bit more maintenance and care. Depending on the size of the stove and the area you are heating, both will provide an excellent source of heat.

Tips for the use and care.

  • Burn only dry seasoned hardwood, wood should have been cut, stacked and dried for at least six months. Keep your wood outside covered and dry.

  • Never burn garbage, a wood stove is not made for this.

  • Split wood into pieces that are 4-6 inches in diameter, burns better.

  • Don't overload and over burn a stove, if in doubt just ad a few pieces at a time.


    You should inspect your wood stove frequently during the heating season for creosote build up. If you discover excess build up find out why, you may be burning wood that has not been seasoned enough or are not burning your stove properly.

    Stovepipes and chimney flues should be cleaned and inspected each year before you use your stove. Look for birds nests, broken or missing bricks, cracked flue liners, creosote deposits and any other material.


    Store ashes in a non-combustible metal container with a tight lid. Be careful coals can stay lit for days. Keep away from all combustible materials


    Yes, you should have a multi-purpose fire extinguisher on hand. As per the Ontario Building Code you must have working smoke detectors.

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