Wood and Pellet Stoves

Wood and Pellet Stoves Can Dry Out a New Home

Wood and pellet stoves are sometimes said to dry out a home too much and especially cause problems in new homes.  That’s why we instruct our customers to delay using a wood or pellet stove until the second heating season.  But the claim that wood and pellet stoves dry out a new home is both true and misleading.

What’s true is that wood and pellet combustion sends warm moist air from inside to outside the home through the flue.  This causes “replacement air” to enter the home from the outside.  In cold winter weather, this air is drier than the inside air.  However, today’s wood and pellet stoves don’t draw in more outside air than oil or gas boilers and furnaces.  So they don’t dry out a home more than a conventional heating system.

Wood and pellet stoves can cause excessively fast drying in a new home, especially if cranked up to a high temperature during the first heating season.
Wood and pellet stoves can cause excessively fast drying in a new home, especially if cranked up to a high temperature during the first heating season.

However, many people crank up the temperature of wood and pellet stoves much higher than hot water baseboard or warm air.  I’m someone who really appreciates the warmth of a hot wood stove after coming in from a cold day.  But it’s this high temperature that causes the wood and other materials in a new home to dry much more rapidly than a conventional heating system.  And it’s this excessive, rapid drying that causes an undue number of drywall cracks and nail pops as well as more warping, cupping, and shrinking of wood and other materials.

Warranty Coverage When Wood and Pellet Stoves Are Used

As a new homeowner, you need to know that this situation is not covered by the warranty of the modular manufacturer, dealer, or general contractor.  Wood floor vendors also don’t warranty against the excessive gaps between boards or splits in the boards that often result from the use of wood and pellet stoves.  This means that if you decide to use a wood or pellet stove during your first heating system, you will have to assume responsibility for any loss or damage caused by the excessive heat conditions.  On the other hand, waiting just one year before using these products at very high temperatures will help permit the wood and other materials in your home to dry slowly and normally.

For more information about the risks of using wood and pellet stoves during the first heating season, see Warranty Service for a Modular Home in my book The Modular Home.

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