Cleaning and Maintaining Wood-Fired Ovens

Wood-burning ovens, like other solid fuel-burning units, are easy to maintain and operate, their maintenance and upkeep differs from most other appliances. These units do not contain many parts that fail or wear out, but improper cleaning causes most problems.

Here, John Schwindt, vice president, operations/general manager at Hawkins Commercial Appliance Service Co. based in Englewood, Colo., provides the basics for properly caring for wood-burning ovens.

  • Have a chimney sweep or a hood cleaner that specializes in solid fuel clean the flue pipes. This should happen roughly four times a year. The residue from solid fuels, along with greasy vapors from product, can cause flue fires if this is not done regularly.
  • For the solid fuel ovens, ash mitigation becomes necessary. The wood ash and coals stay hot for a long time, so using a shop vac to clean these ovens could start a fire. Scoop the embers into a fireproof container.
  • When cleaning out the cooking chamber of a gas-only oven, using a shop vac to remove debris is okay, but the oven needs to be cool. Be careful around igniters and burners as to not damage them.
  • Most ovens have both gas burners and solid fuel. Gas orifices need to be cleaned out and gas pressures checked regularly, as well.
  • In the cooking chamber, an inexperienced cook will just scrape off the deck and push debris to the back and into the burner chamber. This will clog up the burners and ignition system. The debris needs to be removed.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe down the cooking deck surface every day to keep carbon from building up.