10 Problems With Getting a Used Cast Iron Stove

old cast iron wood fired oven with door and grates

A used cast iron stove can be a bargain find or a nightmare. There are generally two kinds of cast iron stoves—pot-bellied or cookstoves. Examine all joints, welds, grates, and fireboxes for cracks before using. Don't use if the metal is bulging or grates don't move freely.

Problems to Look For In Used Cast Iron Stoves

1. Asbestos

Asbestos insulation is often used in older cast iron stoves. Asbestos is a severe health hazard.

2. Rust

Rust can often cover cracks, thin spots, or other defects.

3. Worn Plating

Nickel plating on the grates or firebox may be worn, rusted, pitted, or damaged. It's expensive and hard to replace.

4. Damaged Grates

The first things to go in a cast-iron stove are the grates and firebox. Check to make sure they are intact, with no cracks.

5. Damaged Jacket

Some pot-bellied cast-iron stoves have a sheet metal jacket that is often rusted or damaged.

6. Frayed Seals

Fire rope seals are often compressed, missing, or damaged.

7. Holes

Holes in the ash pan can let in more air than you want, affecting temperatures.

8. Eroded Bricks

Firebricks cracked or damaged.

9. Time Unused

How long has the stove been sitting? The longer it has been sitting, the more you will have to build up from small fires over a week or so to larger fires to allow the metal castings to expand.

10. Cracks

Cast iron stoves are brittle and may be fine when moving but crack during installation.