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ksia

Wood stove not burning properly

Computer and fire problems at the moment! Computer working better so far so can you downsizers now help with our wood stove?

It is just not drawing correctly, so filling the house with smoke during the half hour to an hour it takes to get it going, it does eventually kind of get going but it's not burning (or heating) properly.

We thought at 1st it was to do with the extremely cold temperatures we've had (what a time for it to play up!) but the problems persist and temperatures have risen.

ia has swept, cleaned and poked every part of the fire and chimney - he can find no blockages or problems.

We're 'experienced wood-stovers', it is an insulated chimney and we had no problems last winter.

2 photos attached to show you the set-up.
Inside photo
Smoke comes out of the door and a base of chimney to start, then near the wall joint. There's a cold basement below the kitchen, where the stove is.

Outside - Sorry dark photo but you can see the 2 smoke trails - we've noticed smoke coming out of the bottom of the chimney - surely this can't be good? Not spotted it before! The chimney is higher than the roof (not sure the photo shows that!). We guess there is supposed to be a convection current bottom to top in the chimney but that isn't happening.

Some sort of pressure effect?

Thanks for your advice!


vegplot

Initial thoughts are it's not drawing properly. As you already cleaned the flue then it could be due due to improper the height/diameter of the flue. Or, a break in one of the joints which is lettering air into the flue (other than through the stove).

Edit: Picture show smoke coming out of the bottom of the flue. Is this my imagination?
ksia

It was fine last year so I guess height/diameter ok.

You're not seeing things, smoke is escaping at the bottom - part of the problem I guess!
There is a hole at the bottom, part of the set-up it's always been there.
vegplot

ksia wrote:
You're not seeing things, smoke is escaping at the bottom - part of the problem I guess!
There is a hole at the bottom, part of the set-up it's always been there.


Needs investigating. My experience suggests hole should not be there if smoke is coming out of it. Flues should be sealed, expect at the inlet (stove) and exhaust (top of flue). I can't think of any valid reason for a hole in the flue.

As a test. Let the stove and flue cool. Cover hole with gaffer tape. Light a news paper fire in stove and see how it draws with hole sealed. Seek advice of installer.
Went

Hi Ksia

We have had the same problem this winter here in Spain.....I think I have solved it though......it is a pressure problem. We spent a lot of time and effort sealing windows and doors - this is when the problem started.

We have had a lot of low pressure here and the fire was not drawing well - we switched the extractor fan on and smoke billowed into the house. We removed some of the draft excluder and back to normal. Try and ensure there is a through draft when lighting the fire.......

just seen the bottom smoke - needs sealing Laughing
gil

I sometimes have a drawing problem when I light the stove on cold, damp days when there is no wind.

Best solution I've found (anyone got any others ?) is to warm the chimney/flue up first by burning a couple of bits of newspaper.

Then lay and light the stove.
vegplot

Ian33568 wrote:
Hi Ksia

We have had the same problem this winter here in Spain.....I think I have solved it though......it is a pressure problem. We spent a lot of time and effort sealing windows and doors - this is when the problem started.

We have had a lot of low pressure here and the fire was not drawing well - we switched the extractor fan on and smoke billowed into the house. We removed some of the draft excluder and back to normal. Try and ensure there is a through draft when lighting the fire.......

just seen the bottom smoke - needs sealing Laughing


Good point. Stove ideally benefits from having its air supply as close as possible. We poked a hole through to the outside world under the built up hearth, air goes stright to stove without having to force it's way through doors and window seals. Helps avoid draughts when the stove is lit.
James

have you removed any internal doors or are you keeping any doors open that previously were not?

This could alter the draw on a cool chimney to result in your house acting more like a chimney than the flue is. Therefore there's a pull down the chimney.

We had the same problem after Christmas- our living room filled with smoke and the fire wouldnt start. I closed the door to the stairs and opened a downstairs window a little, re-lit the fire and it worked fine.
ksia

Hi - thanks all.

We've tried the usual get-it-warmed-up methods.

There doesn't appear to be anything different about the house from the pov of drafts - maybe it's the one extra cat we now have (7 rather than 6 could've tilted the hot body balance).

The hole at the bottom of the flue outside really does appear to be integral to the design (Some kind of upward draw acting as a Bernouille pump on the side flue from the house?) but if things don't improve we'll get back to our French chimney man. We'll try blocking the hole tomorrow from cold - we tried it today (hot) but it didn't seem to alter things much.

There are lots of other ways to keep warm though ......
James

its either the cat or the hole in the chimney....

answer: put the cat in the hole in the chimney. sorted.
ksia

James wrote:
its either the cat or the hole in the chimney....

answer: put the cat in the hole in the chimney. sorted.


Good thinking, will try it tomorrow.
vegplot

Look for Buzzards.
mark

Basically you have one have one of several problems

FLUE DRAW - this works by warm air rising up the flu
Quite a few things can interfer with this
wind strength and direction (do you have the approporate flu cap??)
flue cooling - if the flue is long and outside in the winter it may cool down the combusted gases they will stop rising

VENTILATION - air must be able to enter the room where the fire is so it can be drawn up the flu
you need to be sure air isn't being sucked out of the room by extractor fans or just the orientation of windows and vents to the room - that wil counter the flue action
or stoped from entering the room by excessive draft proofing and sealing (most wood and coal burners and gas fires weren't designed for sealed heat saving houses)

BLOCKAGES - sometimes fues simply get bocked by spiders webs, stuff birds put there etc
ksia

vegplot wrote:
Look for Buzzards.


Found these ....... ?


ksia

PS ......

At the top of the flue (we now know) there's a grill between lid and the main cylinder - impossible to clear from below with a brush (bad design) but local chauffagiste was up on the roof 'comme un singe' and now all is sorted. Much to the relief of the cat whose job it was to block the lower hole. (Incidentally, the lower hole is meant to be there).

Thanks for all the suggestions. Now off for a cup of tea in front of a nice flamey fire.

Ian and Karen.
mochyn

ksia wrote:
vegplot wrote:
Look for Buzzards.


Found these ....... ?




I think it was aimed at me. The old chap recently pulled a smoked buzzard out of the Rayburn chimney. Not one of the chaps in the pic: it was the feathery sort.
ksia

Smoked buzzard - yum yum!
Bulgarianlily

We are currently sitting in a house being warmed by the electric fan heater out of our caravan. For the last two days the weather conditions have been dismal, with drizzle and fog, not our usual weather at all. Everytime I have tried to lit the woodstove it does nothing but smoke, and we have had to give up on it. I just can't get the flue hot to draw. But one of the locals here said that I should insulate the outside of the chimney, here they are made from a flue of terracotta shaped bricks, so I will try that next time we get some good weather. We have also need them get a stove going by one man standing on the roof and pouring diesel down it, while someone else opens the cleaning hatch at the bottom and throws in some lighted paper! Two meters of flame jetting out of top of chimney, impressive!

Lily
kevin.vinke

Well there you are just proves the German system is much better Laughing the chimney sweep comes twice a year, gets up on the roof and sweeps the chimney by dropping a cannon ball down the chimney with a wire brush attached, problem solved. Btw you have to clean away the soot at the bottom. All that at only 40 a go! You do get to shake his hand for good luck as part of the service.
ksia

Bulgarianlily wrote:
We have also need them get a stove going by one man standing on the roof and pouring diesel down it, while someone else opens the cleaning hatch at the bottom and throws in some lighted paper! Two meters of flame jetting out of top of chimney, impressive!

Lily


OMG! I hate to think how they unclog drains - napalm?

(..... and 'yes' to the insulation thing.)
Gervase

Glad you sorted the chimney. If ever you've got combustion gasses coming into the room there's a very real risk of carbon monoxide - colourless, odourless and deadly.
mochyn

kevin.vinke wrote:
... You do get to shake his hand for good luck as part of the service.


Why are sweeps so often seen as lucky? The old chap's dad used to dress as a sweep and go to weddings (on request, obviously) to kiss the bride.
ksia

mochyn wrote:
kevin.vinke wrote:
... You do get to shake his hand for good luck as part of the service.


Why are sweeps so often seen as lucky? The old chap's dad used to dress as a sweep and go to weddings (on request, obviously) to kiss the bride.


There's a few suggestions here:

http://www.chimneycleaners.com/

(you need to scroll down a little)

And 'thanks' Gervase.
Bulgarianlily

ksia wrote:
Bulgarianlily wrote:
We have also need them get a stove going by one man standing on the roof and pouring diesel down it, while someone else opens the cleaning hatch at the bottom and throws in some lighted paper! Two meters of flame jetting out of top of chimney, impressive!

Lily


OMG! I hate to think how they unclog drains - napalm?

(..... and 'yes' to the insulation thing.)


What drains? Bulgaria has I think a total of two sewage treatment plants..... Shocked

Lily
vegplot

mochyn wrote:
kevin.vinke wrote:
... You do get to shake his hand for good luck as part of the service.


Why are sweeps so often seen as lucky?


You don't want a chimney fire in a oak framed building with a thatched roof. Pre-emptive luck Smile
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