Here are some frequently asked questions about our heating products. If you still have questions please contact us.

What is used to light my stove?

Alaska Company, Inc. firestarters. Place one on the back of the grate, cover with coal, and light fuse. As soon as there is burning coal, plug stove into wall receptacle. Coal will be burning quickly.

Instant light charcoal. Take 3 or 4 briquettes and break them into smaller pieces. Place them on the grate and light with a match. Wait until the charcoal is burning white hot around the edges, then sprinkle with coal and plug stove in.

How do I vent my coal stove?

Masonry chimney – All stove models.

Power Venter System – All models except for the Gnome 40 and Kodiak models. Typically used when putting a stove in the basement, when most of the basement is below ground level. This is an all stainless steel motorized vent system.

Direct Vent System – Can be used on the following models: Stoker Stove II, Gnome 40, Kast Console III rear vent, and Channing III rear vent. This is a motorized vent system that attaches to the back bottom rear of the stove and then goes straight out through the wall. Typically used on a first floor application or anywhere there is a whole wall exposed to the outside.

How often will stove need attended to?

Depends on the weather. In the Spring and Fall, the hopper could go several days. In warmer weather, the hopper could last a week. Through the heart of winter, generally, the hopper would be topped off once a day.

How much coal will I burn in a heating season?

It all depends on the outside air temperature, amount of insulation, the size of the home, and how warm you want your home to be. The average usage of coal is 3-4 ton.

How do I choose from a top vent stove and a rear vent stove?

For Class A chimney systems and masonry chimneys the height of the flue determines this. If the flue height is higher than the stove then a top vent stove is used. If the flue height is below the top of the stove then a rear vent stove is used.

Power Vented systems can use either top vent or rear vent stoves.

Direct vented systems can only be used on the Stoker Stove II, Channing III rear vent, and Kast Console III rear vent.

How often do I need to clean out the exhaust pipe?

Every two ton of coal the pipe should be cleaned out, or about every 4 weeks. On direct vent systems, in cold weather, it may be necessary to clean more frequently.

When burning the stove for the first time, is it normal for the stove to smoke?

Any newly painted stove will “smoke”. The paint and the steel have to cure. Open a door and some windows and by using a fan, direct the smoke to the outside. This curing process will last about thirty minutes.

How do catalytic wood stoves work?

Basically, a substrate material such as cordierite, is plated with two or more precious metals. During the combustion process, the gases that are released result in friction between the plating materials, which can create extremely high temperatures. Since smoke and other gases are load with energy, the catalyst coverts these into usable heat for your home.

Do catalysts need replacing?

Yes. After a number of years, catalysts can lose their efficiencies. It is not uncommon to get up to 10 years or more service from a catalyst. Burning well-seasoned dry cordwood only can best prolong thecatalyst life.

Sometimes when I load the wood into my stove, a small amount of smoke comes into the room. What can I do to help prevent this?

Inefficient wood stoves let lots of heat escape up the chimney and that is a fact. Our products are so efficient, they convert every possible Btu of heat into usable heat for the inside of your home. However, optimal draft requires a few elements, including velocity, heat and no obstructions. Stoves vary in efficiency and we provide many options to choose from. This higher efficiency results in less heat going up the chimney. This lower flue temperature can result in less than optimal draft when the use of 90 degree elbows and length horizontal runs come into play. The best installation for optimal draft is always straight up and out through ceiling and roof. But this isn’t always possible, resulting in a wall exit. To minimize the problems associated with this type of installation, we recommend the use of double wall stove pipe on the stove to the wall or ceiling. We also suggest the use of two 45 degree elbows back to back, which smoothes out the radius and also shorten any horizontal run of pipe. Lastly, open the by-pass handle 5-10 minutes prior to reloading fuel. Doing so will help to increase the flue temperature and improve the draft dramatically. Also, make certain the spark arrestor on the cap remains clean and deposit free.

Why can’t I get the fire lit in my wood stove?

Damp or wet wood and poor draft are the main reasons for poor results in starting a fire. Always use dry seasoned wood for your fire. Even wood dried for two years will be difficult to ignite, if it has become wet.

Why is there always a large quantity of thick black smoke present in the firebox?

A large quantity of thick black smoke in the firebox is a good indication that the draft is poor.

How do I know if my wood is dry and seasoned?

The use of green or wet wood is the single largest contributor to less than peak performance. The combustion of fuels produces water, regardless of moisture level of your firewood. A piece of dry wood has only so many Btus and if the wood is green or wet, then the combustion process will require heat to eliminate this added moisture. That is heat not being used to heat your home. Many wood stove owners believe that their wood is dry since it is cracking on the ends. It is a fact that wood that has been cut, stacked and dried for two years can still have up to 20% moisture content. Just because a tree is dead and either standing or down on the ground, does not mean the wood is ready to burn. In fact, for peak heating performance, cutting, splitting and stacking off the ground on pallets should be done at least one year in advance.

Does the glass stay clean during the burning?

After a period of time, it is very normal for a white or light tan build-up to present itself on the inside glass of the pellet or multi-fuel stove. This should wipe off easily with a dry paper towel. However, if the stove has been run on a low setting for an extended period, this build-up may be more brown in color and a little harder to remove. In addition, long periods of burning your stove on a low setting can cause creosote build-up, so you may want to run your stove on a high setting on a regular basis.

What can I use to clean the glass on my pellet stove?

The glass on the pellet stove can be cleaned with a dry paper towel while the stove continues to operate—as long as the control board setting is moved to low and the door on the stove or furnace is opened only briefly (45 seconds or less). This is due to loss of vacuum, which will ultimately shut the stove or furnace down. If it is shut off and cool, then window or glass cleaner may help in the cleaning process.

Do you come out to my house?

YES! We first ask that you come into our store to see the products that we sell. If you are building a new home or doing a renovation it is helpful to bring plans or blue prints with you. If you are interested in adding an insert, stove, glass door, gas log or screen to your existing fireplace we ask that you come in with some pictures.

With measurements and pictures, we are able to help you determine what products you may want to consider and give you an idea of the cost for your project. With some of the products that we sell we do need to come out to your home and will make an appointment with you.

How many square feet will a specific model heat?

This can only be best done if the entire floor plan of the home, insulation value and needs are all considered. It is always best to speak with our professionals, tell them about your home, life style and describe what your goals are for heating.

Is direct vent the same thing as ventless?

No, absolutely not. A direct vent uses a high temperature glass panel to seal off the burn area of the fireplace from the interior of the home. It pulls 100% combustion air to feed the fire from outside the home. Because of its design, a direct vent gas fireplace will not affect the indoor air quality of your home. Since no air from your home is going up the chimney, a direct vent model is very efficient. Vent free should actually be called room vented since the by-products of gas combustion all spill back into the room. The single largest by-product of the gas combustion process is water vapor. Over sizing or overuse of a vent free hearth product can lead to excess moisture in a well built, tightly constructed home. Excess moisture inside the home can contribute to odors, mold and mildew inside the home.

What does an outside air kit do and do I need one?

An outside air kit provides additional combustion air to the fireplace that feeds the fire with oxygen from outside your home. This will help the performance on any fireplace installed in tightly-constructed or well-insulated home. If you are installing a wood burning or B-Vent gas fireplace, you should consider installation of an outside air kit.

What does the term zero clearance mean?

Zero clearance has two meanings. The first is whether or not the fireplace can be placed on a floor without footings. The second meaning of zero clearance is if you are able to finish up to the face of the fireplace, so that no metal shows after installation is complete. There are several models on our website that are capable of this clean-faced, zero clearance finish. Check with us on which models are suitable for this type of installation.

What is a flue?

A flue is another name for the fireplace chimney or venting system.

What is the difference between the “Auto Heat Control Box” and the “Thermostat System”?

The Auto Heat Control Box is a box that is numbered, with a knob that you manually turn to adjust the heat output of the stove.

The Thermostat System is a digital box with a low fire setting (that you can vary) and a high fire setting (that you can vary) that adjusts the stove through a wall thermostat. You set your wall thermostat to whatever temperature you want it and the thermostat system controls the stove.

Why is it recommended using a barometric damper on chimney models?

Room temperature air enters through the barometric draft control in the precise amount needed to overcome the excess drafts caused by temperature variations, wind fluctuations, and barometric pressure changes. Combustion of fuel is complete and the process is stabilized. The velocity of the combustions gases through the heat exchanger is slowed so more heat is extracted. The unit operates more efficiently.

Can I hook up my coal stove into the same chimney as my oil furnace?

Not unless there are two flues in the chimney. Check your local building codes.

Will a coal stove make my house dirty?

A common misconception of a coal stove is that it is dirty. It can be. It is all in how you handle your coal and your ashes. Keep the coal damp before you dump it into the hopper. This will eliminate any black dust. Pull your ash pan out of the stove half way, slowly, and mist the top of the ashes with water. When you pick the pan up and carry it, they will not stir around creating a fly ash dust.

How do I turn my stove off?

For stoves using the Auto Heat Control Box, turn the Auto Heat Control Box all the way down to the lowest number and wait for the fire to get small. Then unplug the stove (and the vent system, if it has one).

For stoves using the Thermostat System, turn the wall thermostat down as low as it goes and wait for the fire to get small. Then unplug the stove (and the vent system, if it has one).

What exactly is the “Duct Ring” option?

The Duct Ring option is a collar that is added to the air jacket system of the stove to direct air to a floor register. It is not recommended to hook this duct ring up to a whole house duct system.

Can I heat water using my stove?

Alaska Company, Inc. offers a domestic hot water coil that can be added to the stove to preheat water before it goes into the hot water heater.

Can I burn wood pellets in my stove?

No. Alaska Stoves are designed to burn Anthracite Coal only. Burning wood pellets will result in a hopper fire.

What is draft?

Draft is the ability of the chimney to exhaust or draw by-products produced during the normal combustion process.

What can cause a poor draft?

The most common factors for poor draft are:

 1. Atmospheric Pressure and Air Supply

Atmospheric pressure affecting the draft from a chimney can be either outside the home, inside the home, or both. Outside the home, a high-pressure day (clear and cool) generally creates a better draft in the chimney than a low-pressure day (overcast and damp). Inside the home, normal household appliances, such as clothes dryers and forced-air furnaces compete for air resulting in inadequate amounts of air available to fuel a fire and create a condition known as negative pressure. Under extreme conditions of negative pressure, the combustion by-products can be drawn from the chimney and into the house. This condition is commonly referred to as down-drafting. There are several factors that impact the amount of air available in the home. Increased amounts of insulation vinyl windows, extra caulking in various places and door seals can all keep heat in but may also make a home too airtight. If you are in doubt about whether or not there is sufficient air in your home for your stove, curtail from using those appliances known to consume the air where possible, or open a window or door to allow air to enter the home.

 2. Environmental Conditions

High trees, low lying house location such as in a valley, tall buildings or structures surrounding your house and windy conditions can cause pool draft or down drafting.

3. Cold Chimney Temperature

Avoid cold chimney temperatures by burning a hot fire for the first fifteen to forty minutes, being careful not to over fire. If any part of the chimney or parts of the stove start to glow, you are over-firing the stove. Where possible, install a temperature gauge on the chimney so temperature drops can be seen.

4. Chimney Installation and Maintenance

Avoid using too many elbows or long horizontal runs. If in doubt, contact a chimney expert and/or chimney manufacturer for help. Clean chimney, rain caps and especially spark arrester regularly, to prevent creosote build-up, which will significantly reduce chimney draw and possibly a chimney fire.

Should I close or open the air control fully when shutting down the stove?

When shutting down the stove, fully open the air control. This allows the chimney temperatures to remain as high as possible for as long as possible. Cold chimney temperatures create creosote.

What type of wood is best to use as firewood?

Dry seasoned hardwood should be used. Avoid green unseasoned wood. Green wood, besides burning at only 60% of the fuel value of dry seasoned wood, will deposit creosote on the inside of your stove and along the inside of your chimney.

What does dry seasoned wood mean and what is considered hardwood?

Wood that has been dried for a period of one year in a well-ventilated and sheltered area would be considered dry seasoned wood. Hardwoods are generally from slow growth trees (example: Oak and Fir). Softwoods are generally from fast growth trees (example: Pine and Spruce).

How often do I have to clean a pellet or multi-fuel stove?

Pellet stoves and furnaces require a minimal amount of daily maintenance, which normally consists of dropping or shaking down ashes and adding fuel (for pellet stove), along with cleaning the glass with a dry paper towel and perhaps dumping the ash pan. It would also be a good idea to operate the heat exchange tube scraper rod on a daily basis. Periodic maintenance and yearly maintenance are spelled out very thoroughly in the operations and maintenance manual supplied with each model.You should also remember to run the unit on a high setting for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes per day. This will help keep the firebox area clean, and help maintain the overall efficiency and performance of the stove. Refer to your Owner’s Manual for more information. Keep in mind the frequency of maintenance may vary depending on the quality of fuel being burned in pellet stove.

How do I clean my pellet or stove?

Cleaning your pellet or multi-fuel stove is a straightforward process. You will want to refer to your Owner’s Manual for your specific model more detailed instructions.

The glass on my fireplace is unusually hot.

The glass on a gas fireplace WILL reach very high temperatures. USE CAUTION: Carefully SUPERVISE children in the same room as your appliance; alert everyone to the hazards of high temperatures; do NOT operate with protective barriers removed; keep clothing, furniture, draperies and other combustibles away. Barriers such as screens over our direct vent glass help reduce the risk of burn from touching the glass. These screens are available.

The mantel on my fireplace is unusually hot.

While direct vent gas fireplaces are designed principally for their aesthetic value, we try to get as much heat output as possible to provide added value to the homeowner. It should be noted that while we are getting a lot of heat, we are passing the ANSI and UL standards for combustible temperatures. The allowable is 117°F above room temperature for combustibles. Average room temperature is 70-75°F; therefore a 187-192°F surface temperature can be expected. On a solid surface, 150°F is very hot to the touch (to put this in perspective, water boils at 212°F and the average bath water temperature is 110°F).

What do I do if one of my gas logs breaks?

You will need to contact us to order a new log. Do not use your fireplace until your log set is complete and placed properly. Operating the fireplace with an incomplete log set, or one which is improperly placed, may cause sooting.

What is the difference between a Direct Vent and a B-Vent gas hearth product?

A B-vent must be vented vertically and uses fresh air from inside the home to provide oxygen to the fire. A direct vent has a sealed glass front and pulls all of its fresh air from outside the home. Direct vents can be vented vertically or horizontally through an exterior wall. Direct vents are a completely sealed system; B-vent appliances are not.

What is the recommended burn-in procedure on a new gas fireplace?

On a new gas fireplace there is a curing time or burn-in time. When initially burning your new gas fireplace, the oils, etc. from manufacturing will be burning off the fireplace. We recommend burning the fireplace 3 hours; completely cooling down the fireplace, removing the glass and cleaning it with household glass cleaner or Glass Bright; replacing the glass & continuing to burn the fireplace an additional 9-21 hours. (Make sure you re-latch the glass so it is securely fastened on your fireplace.) If necessary, open a window to release any odor during this process. This should eliminate the manufacturing smell on a new fireplace.

Why will the blower not turn on right away?

Most fans are wired into the fireplace with a fan sensor switch. This switch will activate the blower when the firebox heats up to a certain temperature. It will also automatically turn the blower off when the fireplace is turned off and the unit cools to a certain temperature. This sensor is provided so that you will not be circulating cold air in your home. The amount of time needed to heat up the fan sensor will differ depending on the model of your fireplace. It is common that blowers installed in Firebrick products will take longer to sense the heat and turn on your blower. Firebrick has greater insulating characteristics and holds the heat inside your firebox resulting in higher radiant heat and greater efficiencies