Removing the Rust from a Wood Stove

The whole time we’ve lived in Maine, we’ve used a wood stove as our primary way of heating the house. The first winter, the stove we had was old and inefficient, and so we replaced it before the next winter with one that is ever so much nicer. (The difference? A tight wood stove will keep air out, which lets you control the burn of the wood inside. You can throw in some wood in the evening before you go to bed, and then you still have a great bed of coals by the morning so that all you need to get it going again is to put more wood in. With our first wood stove, the fire was dead every morning. Completely burned out.)

For the most part, the stoves take care of themselves. Dust them, Clean the glass a bit, but they’re tanks. Year in. Year out. Except every now and then they get some rust. At that point, the thing that never needs attention suddenly needs a fair bit of it.

I took today off, and a good portion of my day has been spent focused on our wood stove, because the rust this year has been much worse than in years past. Usually I’d just have to repaint parts of the stove every three years or so, but I just redid this last year, and here I am again. I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t get all the rust last year, or if this year has just been particularly humid. Or maybe it’s because we were working on the front of the house some, and so more outside air got in than has in the past.

In any case, it’s been work. I use a steel brush attachment for my drill, and that does a good job at getting most of the rust off. I’ve been trying to do even more this year than before, wondering if that will make it so that it doesn’t come back as quickly next time. (We’ll also be using a different pot to put on top of the stove. Wood stoves dry the air out a ton, so we usually stick something with water in it on top of the stove to add some water back into the air. I’m wondering if ours was leaking . . . )

With the rust off, I just need to spray paint the stove with some heat resistant paint, and we should be good to go. Of course, that means taping off the parts of the stove I don’t want paint on, which all adds to the time investment. All in all, the “day off” isn’t feeling very “day offy.”

Has anyone else out there been having more trouble with rust this year than usual, or is it just me? What have you done to address rust on stoves in the past?

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