FAQ
7:30am - 5:00pm PST Mon. - Fri.
604-504-2220


Where are you located?

We are located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Abbotsford is about 45 minutes outside of Vancouver. We are a wholesaler and don't sell direct to the public. Please visit our Location Map for more info.

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What are your hours of operation?

7:30 - 5:00, Monday to Friday excluding holidays

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Why don't you sell direct?

We have dealers throughout Western Canada that provide retail services which includes advice, sales, installation and maintenance. Our job at Northwest Stoves is to provide products and services to retailers.

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What's the best wood to burn in a wood burning stove?

Dry, seasoned wood is best. The type of tree is not as important as moisture content. Wood must be allowed to dry for a minimum of 12 months, under cover, after being split and stacked. Popular firewood in the Northwest are: maple, alder, Douglas fir, spruce, apple and cherry. Another good fuel source is pressed fire logs, manufactured by pressurizing sawdust, as opposed to wax-based decorative logs, which have limited heating value.

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How often do I need to clean my chimney?

A chimney fire occurs when a build-up of soot and creosote ignites inside the venting system of a fireplace or woodstove. Wood-burning chimneys should be cleaned when a quarter inch or more of soot is present. Build-up can be more rapid in a woodstove than in a fireplace. In a woodstove vent, dangerous build-up may occur in less a month or may take much longer, depending on burn habits, fuel and other variables. New woodstove users should inspect their systems during the first season to learn their rate of soot build-up and determine cleaning frequency. Newer certified "clean-burning" stoves generate much less creosote than older non-certified stoves. Fireplaces do not need to be cleaned as often as wood-stoves.

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How can I reduce creosote buildup?

First make sure your chimney is properly sized for both flue area and termination height. Try to avoid offset angles and keep the chimney as straight as possible. Try to size your woodstove correctly for the area you want to heat. This will ensure that you are able to burn it hot (efficiently) and avoid creosote build-up. Always warm-up your chimney by burning vigorously for the first 45-60 minutes before you reduce the air supply and burn slowly.

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What are the installation clearances for a woodstove?

Each stove's installation requirements are different. Every manufacturer tests and lists each model. Clearances to combustible walls and hearth (underlayment) dimensions are critical safety considerations. Local building officials will rely on these specifications when inspecting an installation. Every stove's requirements are included in the owner’s manual and in less detail on the identification plate on the back of each stove.

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Can I put a woodstove in new construction?

It is a popular myth that wood burning has been “banned.” Fireplace and stove manufacturers have abided by newer, tougher government regulations when it comes to wood buring and today's models emit very little smoke when burned properly and with seasoned wood. However, while the vast majority of jurisdictions within the province of British Columbia allow a certified wood burning stove or fireplace to be installed in new construction, it would be wise to consult with local authorities before making any purchasing decisions to verify your options in this regard. Any product must be installed in accordance with manufacturer’s requirements.

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Do gas stoves or fireplaces require a chimney?

Some do and some don't. There are essentially three kinds of gas stove or fireplace vent configurations. One is natural or "B" vent. This means the appliance requires a vertical (through the roof) vent termination. The second is referred to as "direct-vent". This means the vent can terminate horizontally (on a side wall) or vertically. The third is referred to as "non-vented". This means there is no chimney requirement. Non-vented are not certified in Canada.

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Why are non-vented stoves and fireplaces not certified in Canada?

Non-vented gas appliances are equipped with Oxygen Depletion Sensors (ODS). These devices have proven to be very reliable and will automatically shutdown the appliance if the Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels reach a dangerous level. However, when gas burns it releases a significant amount of water vapor (gas can be 25% moisture). In a climate such as ours, this moisture inside the house can be detrimental over time. In addition, many non-vented gas stoves release identifiable odors that are undesirable to some homeowners.

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Will gas logs in my wood burning fireplace provide heat?

Operating gas logs in a fireplace can be similar to burning wood in the fireplace. Yes you will receive some heat, but it is impossible to predict how much. Gas logs retrofitted to existing fireplaces are primarily for aesthetic benefit. They look great, provide a large yellow-orange flame and are not particularly efficient. If heat is your primary motive for retrofitting your fireplace you should consider a gas fireplace insert. Either way, you'll have something easy to use and maintain.

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Will a gas stove heat as well as a wood stove?

Almost every gas stove, gas insert and gas fireplace we sell is rated as a heater. They operate at efficiencies ranging from 30 to 70%. As a result, they often can heat an area as effectively as a woodstove or wood insert. Just like woodstoves, they come in many sizes and output ratings. It is important to size properly for your application.

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Do gas stoves and fireplaces require electricity?

At one point, most gas stoves and fireplaces used a standing pilot much like a gas hot water tank. This meant that all the switches and controls that turn the appliance on or off, up or down do not use house current. A newer technology, called IPI (intermittent pilot ignition) does use house current, but comes with a battery backup to allow for use in a power outage. Both of these systems function very well during power outages. Many gas appliances do have heat circulating fans…these fans do need electricity (house current). However, some gas stoves and inserts, with or without the fan operating, can still heat effectively.

Your best bet it to ask your hearth retailer what variety of technology is the best choice for your specific area and application. For example, Vancouver currently does not allow for anything but IPI systems to be installed in the city, and Fortis BC is offering a $300 rebate when installing a new gas appliance that meets certain efficiency levels (Enerchoice rated), but only if it's equipped with IPI igntion.

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Can I switch my gas appliance from natural gas to propane or vice versa?

Some manufacturers use valve configurations that allow burners to be field converted from one fuel to the other. Others will require that any conversions occur at their factory. Some will simply not allow conversions at all. Please check with your local hearth dealer to see what is required for conversion. In most cases, a trained technician should complete this work. The characteristics and pressure levels of propane and natural gas are different and as such require careful attention.

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What is the difference between B-Vent and Direct-Vent?

B-vent appliances use a single exhaust pipe and draw combustion air from the room into the combustion chamber and up through the chimney. These devices are sometimes referred to as "natural-vent". Direct vent appliances are sealed to the room. They draw their combustion air from outside and exhaust through a collinear or coaxial pipe. In either case, efficiencies on new appliances don't vary much between the two configurations. Most new gas stoves and fireplaces use very small 3" or 4" diameter exhaust systems.

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What is a BTU?

BTUs - British Thermal Unit, the primary heat measurement unit used by the hearth industry. It is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water by 1 degree Ferenheight.

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Can I burn coal in my woodstove or wood burning insert?

Most wood burning stoves and inserts are specifically designed and safety tested to burn only cordwood. Burning coal creates corrosive gases that can cause rapid deterioration of wood stoves and metal chimneys. Burning a fuel other than cordwood in your woodstove or insert will invalidate your warranty.

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What is a clean-burning EPA stove or fireplace?

EPA Regulations are government regulations of wood burning appliances mandating that products sold after July 1, 1992, emit no more than 4.1 grams of particulate matter per hour for catalytic-equipped units and no more than 7.5 grams for non-catalytic-equipped units.

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I need tips on starting or rekindling the fire.

When starting a fire, use plenty of crumpled newspaper and kindling. As a guide, fill the firebox completely with loosely crumpled newspaper and hold it down with at least ten pieces of finely-split dry kindling. Softwoods make the best kindling. Find out where the combustion air enters the firebox of your stove and light the fire there so that the fire gets plenty of air. Open the air inlets fully.

  • Use dry, split kindling and newspaper to set the fire
  • Use a separate piece of newspaper formed into a torch and lit at one end to warm the flue, once the damper is opened
  • When draft is established, light the kindling
  • Once the kindling is burning, add pieces of larger wood. Be careful not to smother the fire with pieces that are too large
  • Do not overload the firebox
  • Burn fires of reasonable size
  • Do not burn garbage or waste materials, especially highly flammable materials such as gift wrappings or evergreen boughs
  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.

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What is a Chimney liner?

Today's building code requires liners in all new chimneys. These smooth metal or hard clay liners allow for a smooth flow of exhaust, and a more efficient operation of the fireplace. It is also easier to clean a lined chimney.

Before 1954 or so, fireplaces were typically constructed of stone or bricks and mortar, and were generally not lined. If you have an old fireplace, the mortar may have broken down into its original state - sand. That means you might have small holes in the chimney that could lead to fire in the walls.

The absence of a liner also increases the build-up of creosote, a tar-like substance. Creosote can be ignited by heat. The resulting flash fire could be intense enough to crack your masonry, or generate enough sparks to start a roof fire.

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Why do I need a stainless liner in the chimney when I already have a clay liner?

  • The chimney flue should be the same size as the appliance flue collar. In the past, many chimneys were too large for the appliance they served. But bigger is not better when it comes to chimney size. Flue gas flows faster and has less time to lose heat in a smaller chimney flue. In planning wood-heating systems, some experienced installers even choose a chimney that has a smaller inside diameter than the appliance flue collar. They usually do this when the chimney runs inside the house and is fairly tall. Chimneys taller than 8 m (about 26 ft.) sometimes produce more draft than the appliance needs, so a smaller-diameter chimney doesn't reduce performance. Only an experienced technician should decide whether the flue should be smaller than the appliance flue collar.

  • Taller chimneys produce stronger draft. A rule of thumb is that the entire system (from the floor on which the appliance is mounted to the top of the chimney) must be at least 4.6 m (15 ft.) high. Most installations are taller than this, but those in cottages with shallow-pitch roofs or in single-storey buildings with flat roofs may not. If you experience draft problems with a short system, consider adding to the chimney's height. However, if your chimney runs up the outside wall of the house, making it taller may not improve draft, because the extra heat loss cancels out any benefit.


What are Advanced Combustion Wood Fireplaces?

These high efficiency fireplaces were originally designed in Canada in the early eighties. For more information see: http://www.canren.gc.ca/prod_serv/index.asp?CaId=158&PgId=823

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How do you clean and maintain a natural gas fireplace?

The starting point is always to check your owner's manual. It will provide guidance on what can be done on your own. Most manufacturers recommend an annual maintenance check by a certified heating professional.

Watch for soot on the glass or logs. In the case of direct venting to the outside, check the outside of the building for soot also. Usually, "sooting" means that the fuel to air ratio on the burner needs to be adjusted.

The unit must be off before cleaning. The manufacturer’s instructions will explain how to release the glass. Use the glass cleaner recommended by the manufacturer or a quality, brand name glass cleaner.

Note the condition of the gasket around the glass, particularly on direct vent models as a worn gasket can negatively impact efficient operation. Gaskets that show signs of crumbling or cracking may need replacement.

If the fireplace takes its air from inside the house, watch for dust around the air intake and the pilot light. It can restrict airflow and potentially snuff out the flame.

Turning off the pilot light in the summer will save $35 to $50 a year in fuel costs and reduce heat build-up. Most fireplaces can be turned off, but many service experts believe it is safer to leave them on, especially in the basement, because it keeps the components dry and the low-voltage contacts from corroding.

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