The heating season is winding down and you’re giving your wood or pellet stove its last thorough cleaning when – uh oh! You notice a small crack on the exterior housing. While this may seem alarming at first, it may not be as catastrophic as some of us may think. Take a deep breath and let’s evaluate the situation together.
First, take a good look at the area of concern:
- Are there large chunks of metal missing?
- Has the crack extended beyond the exterior layer of the stove and into the firebox?
- Is the area split in two, or into many pieces?
If you answered "No" to all of these questions, you’re in decent shape! Now let’s consult the owner’s manual for your stove. There should be a section that focuses on damages and repairs. Most likely, you will find that the instructions will regard small, or “hairline” cracks as completely normal occurrences that tend to materialize from the repeated heating (expansion) and cooling (contraction) that your application undergoes. That information is all well and good, but how exactly do you gauge the size of a “hairline” crack?
We have done some research and found that any cracks that are wider than 1/16 of an inch would require the wisdom and care of a certified professional. Put it this way: if you can insert the edge of a dime into the crack on your stove, you probably shouldn’t attempt a DIY repair. (Please note: if you have any reservations whatsoever about the extent and condition of the damage, we recommend contacting a professional repair person.)
However, if you’ve determined that this repair is a simple fix, we have some great tips for camouflaging that little flaw! We also have some easy-to-use, reliable products that we recommend exactly for this situation. Keep in mind that while the product application is not time-consuming, the drying, setting, and curing of the materials will take some time. Plan on completing the entire process over a weekend’s time. Let’s get started!
You’re going to want to gather a few items before you get started:
- Rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
- Dropcloth or tarp
- Paint scraper
- Wire brush
- Degreaser or dish soap
- Cloth rags
- Caulking gun
- Black Furnace Cement from A.W. Perkins (cartridge application)
- Fine-grit sandpaper
You’ll want to protect your work area and surfaces from any accidental spills by laying a drop cloth or tarp on the floor. Protect your skin and eyes by wearing rubber gloves and eye protection during the application of these products. Please keep in mind that the cement will emit fumes – you’ll want to make sure that your work area is well ventilated. Now that you’ve gathered all your materials, it’s time to work your magic!
- Your stove should be turned off and have cooled completely. Ensure that all surfaces are cool to the touch before proceeding.
- Use the paint scraper to remove any flaking metal, and the wire brush to remove rust particles. This will also roughen up the surface for a strong cement adhesion.
- Next, wash the stove with a quality degreasing agent or warm soapy water. This will remove dirt and greasy residue, as the cement will not adhere to debris and unclean surfaces. Allow the stove to dry.
- Insert the A.W. Perkins Black Furnace Cement cartridge into the caulking gun. Cut the tip at a 45° angle to the desired diameter (we recommend 1/8"). Spin the cartridge tube so that the longest part of the tip is aligned with the top of the gun.
- Dampen the surface lightly with warm, clean water. Holding the caulk gun at 45°, begin at the highest point of your work area (the crack in the stove exterior) and slowly squeeze the trigger, dragging the gun to lay an even bead. Since you are repairing a hairline crack, please keep in mind that you will need a minimal product for this task.
- Release the trigger as you near the end of the crack to stop the flow of material.
- Allow at least 24 hours for the cement to harden. If you are working near a glass or enamel surface and the cement contacts it, immediately wipe the excess away with warm water, or else permanent etching will occur.
- Once the cement is dry, remove any uneven areas with fine-grit sandpaper, using light pressure. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Most heating appliances are black in color. Our Black Furnace Cement by A.W. Perkins blends well with most applications; however, you may have a different color stove or a different black finish that requires additional touching-up with stove paint. We recommend using a spray-on application by Stove Bright!