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<p>This is my first winter with a woodstove as our only heat source, it's not the first for dh. I'm a little cautious about leaving it going when I'm not here. If I know I'm going to be gone for the day I just don't add anything when I wake up and let it go out, come home and start it from scratch. But what to do with the impromptu errand or play date for an hour or so? Keep it going or what do you mamas do?</p>
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<p>I try to always keep a good set of coals going at all times when it's cold out. A short bit before going out I stock the stove with some hardwood, open everything up so it get going really good and then close it down so it burns really slow. It's all contained that way, and make sure nothing combustable is anywhere near it. I love coming home to a warm house, can't imagine starting from scratch all the time.</p>
 

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<p>We stock before we go out/before we go to bed. I admit I don't love doing that, and I think I stock it a little less enthusiastically than DH does, but I try to have it so at least there's coals when we come home.</p>
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<p>This is our first winter trying to do mainly wood, and I quite enjoy it!</p>
 

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<p>Whenever we leave the house we pack the stove full and cut it back (so damper set, and air cut back) so that it burns slow. Letting stoves die when your gone works fine... as long as you have a backup heat source. Otherwise you come home to a house thats freezing cold, and possibly even frozen/burst water pipes. And those suck. </p>
 

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<p>When we leave the house we try to stock it all the way up and then let it burn for a good 10 minutes before leaving. When we are walking out the door we close the damper. If we are leaving for more than 6 hours we also close the doors to the room that the stove is in so when we return we have at least one warm room. For the first couple of years we held our breath as we turned into our valley because we were afraid we'd see our house in flames- its normal. Your house wont burn down as long as you keep your chimney clean and make sure there are no stray coals on the floor.</p>
 

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<p>Load it up before I leave (not fill the stove, just enough), close down the dampers, when I get home I have a nice hot bed of coals waiting for me. My wood is fairly dry so it starts up with no problem. I use birch bark to give the fire a little boost when it restarts, newspaper also works.</p>
 

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<p>I would be yet another person that will load the stove up with wood and close the damper when we leave. We burn mostly pine during the day, but will use hardwood when we are leaving or when we are going to bed.</p>
 

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<p>We will load it up, but watch to make sure that it is fully caught and carefully dampered down so that it is not smoldering, but is a nice stable fire.</p>
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<p>When we relied on wood heat 100% I never let it go out by choice during the winter, unless we would be out of town or something.</p>
 

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<p>Thanks mamas for all of your replies.  We've been keeping it going as much as we can while we are gone. On all day outings it does burn mostly out and if we can catch the embers then we're good to go for the evening fire. I guess I was a little uncomfortable at first with the idea of leaving a fire going while no one was home, even if it's safe in the stove in theory.</p>
 
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