The ceramic rope on the door of your woodburner is considered a perishable item. It’s purpose is simple, to create a seal between the door and the body of the stove which allows you, the stove user, to regulate the air entering the firebox for efficient combustion. Over time, stove ropes can fail to complete the task they are designed for and this can happen for a variety of reasons.
As a perishable item, stove rope can simply wear down and fall apart from use. This happens particularly quickly when the previous stove rope was not secured by heat resistant stove rope tape as the loose woven fibres fray and fall apart. Stove rope can also go hard and become ineffective. This can happen if the door seal has not been sufficiently tight for an extended period of time which allows the exhaust gasses from the fire to collect and cool on the rope, hardening it in the process. A hard stove rope cannot compress and therefore cannot create a tight seal. Even stove rope in good condition can fail to perform. When the stove rope is fitted, it is perfectly cylindrical. After much time spent compressed against the body of the stove, the rope can flatten and then no longer creates the intended seal.
Trick of the trade
Knowing when to change your stove rope is a pretty simple task in most cases. Firstly, check your stove rope to see if it has frayed, if any part of it has fallen apart or is even missing and give it a squeeze to see if it’s still compressing or if it’s gone completely hard. So long as it passes the metrics above, you can now try this trick to know if your stove rope is doing it’s job.
Take a strip of paper around a couple of inches wide, place it between the stove rope and stove body at various points around the seal and pull. If the paper slides out, the seal isn’t good enough. The most common question asked at this point is “How do I know how hard to pull”? The answer; Imagine you are using a bank note instead of newspaper, not one of the modern plastic ones but one of the old cotton fibre ones, you know, the ones that could rip (Can you see where this is going yet?)… If you would be concerned that a bank note in its place would tear, you’re pulling too hard. Anything less than this, if the paper stays in place, your rope is good and there is no need to change it yet. Do make sure you check multiple sites around the stove rope to make sure it’s a nice tight fit all the way around.
Before you change your rope
If your rope is in good condition, compresses well and passes the paper trick, you needn’t do a thing. If your stove rope is tatted, hard, fallen apart or even missing, it’s time to change it regardless. If, however your stove rope passes on its condition but fails the paper test, there is one thing you must look at before pulling the old rope off and replacing it. Many stoves, allow you to adjust the door catch to tighten the door seal as needed. This is particularly common on stoves with door knob style handles and less common on latched doors but do be sure to check if it’s simply time to tighten the handle before committing to changing the stove rope.
Changing the stove rope
The process of changing the rope on your stove is simple but goes beyond the scope of this short read. If you are undertaking the task of changing your rope, we are in the process of writing out step by step instructions for this which will be posted here soon.