How to prevent and resolve problems with a wood-burning fire or stove
A good, well considered installation of a wood-burning fire or stove usually prevents problems. Usually, minimal maintenance is needed and you can enjoy years of your fire or stove. Nevertheless, problems may arise with a well-installed wood-burning fire or stove, especially with the draught, the extent to which the smoke is exhausted.
Simple solutions to improve the draught
A warm airflow helps the draught. That is why it is wise to make the fire with materials that burn quickly so that the warm airflow starts quickly. For this you can use newspapers and also kindling including, for example, fast burning woods such as pine, willow or alder. You can also prevent problems with the draught by only burning dried wood (dried for at least two years).
Moist wood does not burn completely and smoulders, which creates outlet problems. Once the fire is burning, you should switch to slow burning woods. Furthermore, it is advisable to keep the fire burning well. Are you unsure about whether the wood you want to burn is dry enough? There are special wood-moisture meters that you can use to measure this.
Do you frequently experience problems with the smoke outlet?
If there are regular problems with the draught of your chimney, it may be a good idea to have the flue inspected. Many bends in the duct or a channel that is too narrow can cause problems. Possible solutions for a poor draught due to an insufficient smoke duct include:
- Increasing the diameter. As a result, the air discharge is widened and the smoke is exhausted more easily.
- Streamline the flue. Curves in the canal can cause the airflow to stagnate and the smoke to flow back into the house.
- Make the flue pipe smoother. Irregularities on the inside of the flue can obstruct the airflow.
- It may also be necessary to extend the flue.
- If there are any problems with the smoke outlet, an air grille may be created near to the fire. This improves the supply of oxygen, which results in better combustion and an improved smoke outlet.
- Installing a fan. This can be a relatively simple system, but there are now also electric ventilation systems for the outlet of wood-burning fires and stoves.
Obtain professional advice before you proceed further. It is always a good idea to have the flue inspected thoroughly by the dealer before installing a new fireplace or stove. Then you can be sure that you will not have any surprises when your fire is installed.
Other solutions to improve the draught
Are you still having problems with the draught ? If mechanical ventilation is also present in the room, a vacuum can occur and the smoke is drawn back into the house. This may be the case with regular mechanical ventilation, but also due to using a kitchen extractor hood if you have a large kitchen, for example. If problems arise, it is advisable to open a small window elsewhere and to leave the extractor hood switched off. Structural problems can also be remedied by creating an outdoor air connection.
What can I do about soot on the doors?
Do you regularly suffer from soot on the stove doors? Soot is mainly caused by incomplete combustion. This can have various causes, but usually the culprit is wet or unsuitable wood. Soot is caused by the temperature of the stove. You can prevent it by allowing the stove or fire to get very hot immediately, and by using small pieces of suitable dry firewood. This also directly improves the draught of the flue.
Preferably, choose wood types with minimal resin to prevent soot. Has soot still been produced? Remove it as soon as possible after cooling the fire or the stove. Thick layers of soot increase the risk of fire. You can easily remove thin layers with hot water. For thicker layers you can use a special maintenance product, which in many cases is available from the dealer.
My flue is leaking smoke. Is this harmful?
A flue that is leaking smoke can cause dangerous situations. Moreover, deposits can also occur on the ceiling or in other places in the home. It is advisable to have this repaired before you use the stove or fire again. An authorised dealer can carry out an inspection of the flue and/or the chimney wall. It is important that this is carried out professionally and that the flue is repaired with material that matches the wood-burning fire or stove.