Why is My Wood Stove Smoking: The Reasons and Solutions

Why is My Wood Stove Smoking
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Smoke is a common problem with wood stove since most of the time when you open the door, a blast of smoke welcomes you. If you often wonder and ask “Why is my wood stove smoking?” then, a definite answer might be hard to find since there could be several reasons behind it. The great thing is that you can diagnose and fix the problem by yourself.

Hence, let’s look at different instances why your wood stove smokes.

Why is My Wood Stove Smoking: The Common Reasons

  • When Lighting It Up

If the wood stove is throwing back smoke when you try to light it, the problem could be the inside temperature. Usually, the inside is quite cold, and that happens because cold air comes down from the chimney and gets trapped in the stove.

In this situation, you need to find out which way the flame goes. If it is going upwards, you are good. If it is going downward, it means the draft needs to be reversed, and to redirect it upward, you need a commercial wax log.

Leaving the stove door open for 30 minutes before lighting it can also do the trick. Doing so will also move the draft upwards, allowing you to light the stove easily. When the draft has been reversed, the air will be sucking the fire from the starter block. Now, you can go ahead and start the fire, and the smoke problem will not occur again.

Besides the cold temperature, unseasoned or wet firewood could also be the problem, so make sure that the wood is completely dry when lighting the stove. If you own a moisture meter, see what the moisture level of the wood is. It should be under 20% ideally.

  • When It is Windy Outside

If it is windy outside and you see the stove filling the room with smoke, the chimney is the problem. It might be too short for the powerful winds. If this is the case, the chimney will put out smoke sporadically or the so-called downdraught.

What is downdraught? It is caused when the chimney is not high enough, or there are taller structures around, especially trees. These structures may affect the wind current and cause the smoke problem. Generally, the taller the chimney, the lesser the chances of wind disrupting the fire because taller chimney takes the smoke far away from home and does not throw sparks on the roof either.

If downdraught is your problem, you will not be facing it as often as it only happens under certain conditions. It will smoke when the wind is coming from the North. Usually, the chimneys are two feet taller than the surrounding structures.

However, in some cases, this may not be enough for the chimney to draw out the air and smoke. If trees surround your house, you have to make sure the height of the chimney is at least three feet above them. For a quick fix, you can use an anti-downdraught cowl.

Another solution is a chimney cap, which basically stops the wind from going into the chimney whichever direction it is flowing in. You can put this cap on the pipe, and the smoke never comes out even when it is windy outside.

If you cannot find a chimney cap, go for an exhaust fan. That can also get the job done by driving the smoke out of the chimney and into the outer atmosphere.

Other Reasons

If your wood stove is smoking all the time, regardless of the outside conditions, there could be a host of other reasons behind that, and they are the following:

  • A blocked chimney
  • Another chimney or extractor nearby
  • Bigger fireplace opening than the flue
  • Poor ventilation
  • Wrong size of the chimney pot
  • Pressure difference

Now, how do you find out which of the above is causing the wood stove to smoke? Basically, you can check for these causes one by one until you get to the one that is relevant in your case. Most commonly, the problem arises when the chimney has not been cleaned in a while, so your first chore is to clean the chimney.

If there is another chimney in the house, block that chimney with a cap. Doing so will make sure they do not draw air from the smoking chimney. Also, make sure the air vents are closed on the other chimney. If this resolves the problem, you do not have to do anything else.

If you have the wood stove installed in a fireplace, block the top third of the fireplace. If the smoke stops, you know the fireplace opening was too big for the wood stove. You can permanently close this extra opening with a metal plate or a smoke guard or any other object that fits and does not cause harm.

Another thing to try when smoke is coming out of the wood stove constantly is to open a window in the room. If there is no window there, open the window in the next room. Make sure that a door does not block the air flowing between the two rooms.

Summary

Hopefully, we have given you enough answers to the question “Why is my wood stove smoking?” As discussed, the chimney’s height should be high enough, or it should be at least two feet taller than any surrounding object at ten feet radius or at least three feet taller than the peak of the roof. Definitely, you will need to reconstruct it to avoid this smoke problem permanently.

Besides chimney height, your stove’s catalyst combustor may be the issue. Its fan should be engaged when you are lighting the stove.  Also, if you forget to maintain this part of the stove, it can easily get clogged, so if there is ash accumulated in the firebox of the combustor, use a brush or ash vacuum to clean it. You should not remove this combustor when the stove is smoking.

All in all, your wood stove smokes due to many reasons, but once you know the reason, you can fix most of the issues on your own.

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