Woodstove owners who have been experiencing problems with their wood stove not drawing can find some common solutions in this blog post. The first solution is to clean the chimney, which should be done at least once a year.
You will also want to check out your damper and make sure that it is closed when the fire goes out. Finally, here’s a helpful tip: always use dry kindling or newspaper as a starter fuel for your fire!
Why Does My Wood Stove Not Draw?
A wood stove that doesn’t draw can be cause for concern, but it’s usually fairly easy to diagnose and fix. If your fireplace or woodstove is drawing properly, you should see a visible blue flame when the fire burns. The fire should produce a constant flow of air and smoke, without back-drafting.
If your fireplace or woodstove is not drawing properly:
- * You may have an excessive chimney draft – too much pressure in the chimney tube. Check to see if the damper handle on your stove is open (many stoves require that this be manually opened). If it’s closed, you’ll want to call a professional for help with diagnosis and repair as soon as possible; carbon monoxide poisoning can occur quickly when confined spaces are filled with deadly gas! Also, make sure that there isn’t something blocking the flue pipe such as animal nests inside the wall – remove any debris carefully so you don’t cause damage and create larger problems.
- * You may have a backdrafting problem. Simply opening the damper should solve this, but if it doesn’t you’ll need to check your stove’s chimney connection and make sure that there isn’t any lint or other debris creating an obstruction for airflow within the pipe. Also, take a look at the cap on top of your chimney – is it dirty? If so, consider cleaning it as soon as possible; blockages in vents can cause serious problems with airflow and safety!
The Stove Or Flue Is Too Cold
The best way to think of it is like a chimney and stovepipe relationship: the air flows freely (and cleanly) if both are warm and dry, but as soon as there’s an obstacle or change in temperature/humidity inside either one, that flow gets restricted.
A cold flue will block the path for an incoming column of hot gases to travel up through your stove pipe; you can learn more about the draft here. The result? Your wood stove won’t draw properly no matter how hard you try!
Here are a few ways to keep your stove or flue warm enough:
- – Make sure the stovepipe, chimney, and outside wall it’s attached to all have an adequate thickness of insulation.
- – Locate your woodstove at least three feet from any combustible objects – including furniture, drapes, etc., which should be kept away by about five feet. Any air inlets (windows, doors) within ten feet should also be closed while you’re burning wood so that they don’t cool down too much during combustion.
- – If possible, situate your metal fireplace liner directly below a sturdy roof that won’t cave in on top of it when snow accumulates! This will provide extra protection against cold air seeping into your stove or flue.
- – Use a high-quality fire grate that’s built to last and keep the wood you put in it steady on all four sides for an even burn with minimal smoke/heat loss, plus make sure the gap between its bars is no more than three quarters of an inch wide.
- – Keep good airflow going up through your chimney by making sure there are no obstructions inside it (including dirt) before lighting another fire – this will prevent any fumes from lingering around within it too long once they’ve exited out of your woodstove below!
The Flue Is Dirty
If your stove is not drawing well, it may be because the flue has become dirty. The best way to clean a wood-burning flue is with a brush and some soot remover from your local hardware store. It’s important that you don’t use any chemicals in this process as they can create dangerous fumes when used near an open flame. Some people prefer to hire a professional for this process.
- If you do hire a professional, make sure to contact them well in advance of your cleaning plan. They should be able to come out and clean the stove before it happens.
- This way, you won’t have to worry about the stove not drawing.
The Room Is Too Air Tight
The room is too air-tight. If the room you are heating with your wood-burning stove isn’t ventilated properly or has very little circulation in it because of thick walls and doors, then there will be a lack of oxygen to feed the flame which means that no heat can get out from the appliance either.
There should always be at least one window open when using any type of fire-burning appliance for ventilation purposes. Using an exhaust fan helps circulate warm air into adjoining rooms while also giving extra help through the natural draft to pull smoke out of the chimney flue. Combustion air must enter a fireplace below its grate bars and flow up past a lit fuel bed before being vented outside by its flue system.
Some flues are not tall enough to provide the draft needed for complete combustion. The height of your chimney above where it protrudes through the roof can also impede proper draw due to insufficient rise or length. If you have an existing masonry fireplace, there may be soot deposits inside which will decrease its ability to create a strong upward draft when in use.
This is why periodic cleaning with special tools and equipment helps keep fireplaces operating at their full potentials by removing built-up creosote from their internal surfaces before it becomes combustible itself. Inadequate venting outside such as single-wall metal pipe can lead to poor draw because of back pressure on the system that usually results in smoke spilling into living spaces instead of going out of the building.
Inadequate venting is often caused by poor design from the start or from being altered over time as walls are added on, windows change locations, and materials used for exterior siding vary between wood, fiberglass, vinyl, and stucco. In some cases, this can be resolved with a simple re-caulking of all joints to prevent air leaks that would otherwise cause back pressure against flue gases trying to leave the structure through its main exhaust pipe system.
The Air Vents Aren’t Open Enough
- Make sure that the air vents are open enough. This is likely to be a problem if you can see more light coming in than smoke going up the chimney. Open them even further until it starts drawing well.
- If you open the air vents too much, your wood will not be able to generate enough heat in order to burn properly.
It is also possible that there are other fires in town or surrounding areas that are drawing all of the available oxygen out of the atmosphere, making it difficult for your stove to draw. The solution here would be finding alternate locations where you can cut back on how many air vents are opened until it starts working again.
- If you open the air vents too much, your wood will not be able to generate enough heat in order to burn properly. It is also possible that there are other fires in town or surrounding areas that are drawing all of the available oxygen out of the atmosphere, making it difficult for your stove to draw. The solution here would be finding alternate locations where you can cut back on how many air vents are opened until it starts working again.
The Damper Is Closed
In a perfect world, your wood stove would work like this: you’d open the damper and feed logs into the firebox. The airflow from the fan would hit those logs and ignite them, then send warm air back through to heat up your house. In reality, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes things go wrong with either your chimney or your stovepipe – which means it’s time for some troubleshooting!
Let’s start at square one…with whether or not there is even a problem in need of solving. If everything looks good above-ground but you still can’t get any draw out of your system? There might be something going on just below ground level that we should take care of first before worrying about your stove.
Is your chimney clean?
If the answer is no, you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed before moving on! If it’s been several years since you last cleaned out the flue of soot and creosote, then now is definitely time for action. If there are any obstructions in your chimney – birds nests or anything else – clear them away as soon as possible because these things can have an impact on how well air flows through your system.
Not cleaning will also likely damage bricks over time which makes future repairs much more costly than they need to be (and we don’t want that). Now that our troubleshooting begins at square one…where do we go from here? With steps one and two out of the way, it’s time to check on your stovepipe! Another thing worth considering is whether or not all sections of stovepipes are big enough for adequate airflow; sometimes adding more length is just enough to fix the problem.
As you can see, there are a number of different things that could potentially be causing your wood stove not to draw properly. These issues might seem intimidating at first but once you break them down into smaller pieces – one thing at a time – they’ll start making sense pretty quickly!
Is your stovepipe clean?
Now that you know there are no obstructions in the chimney itself, let’s look at what happens after air travels through. If soot builds up around your flue pipe – particularly if it seems like a lot of smoke is coming back into the room rather than going outside – then this may be an issue worth looking into.
You’ll likely want to replace any corroded or damaged parts along with cleaning everything else as best you can (and don’t forget the damper, too).
If the stovepipe itself is failing or corroded (or even if it’s just dirty), you may need to remove your existing pipe and install a new one. This can be labor-intensive but will ensure proper airflow through your wood-burning appliance.
The Wood Is Too Wet
When you buy wood there is a reasonable level of humidity in the bag. Sometimes, even if it’s been stored inside or undercover for some time, that moisture content (MC) will be fairly high and this can cause issues with your stove not drawing properly. The MC should be less than 20% generally speaking but any higher and you may run into problems – especially when using tight-fitting doors like glass-fronted ones as they’ll create an extra seal around the firebox door potentially stopping airflow.
If your wood supplier knows how to test for its dryness they should include those details on their website so check out what information they have available online before buying from them next time around. Again though, if you’re unsure then feel free to come and see us!
A good way to test whether your wood is dry enough for use in a stove or not is to split it open (after you’ve bought the logs of course!) – if there are cracks along the grain then you can be pretty sure that it’s dried out. When splitting firewood always aim for spilled sizes somewhere around 18-20cm long, just about big enough to fit comfortably into your stove’s firebox. If they’re too small then airflow will likely be poor; too large however and they’ll burn away very quickly leaving little coals behind which won’t give off much heat at all.
If splitting shows up areas where moisture content looks high don’t because this isn’t necessarily something to worry about. The fact that you can see it there at all means that the wood has dried out on its journey from tree to your home – if this moisture is contained inside hollows or ‘pockets’ in the log then they’ll burn away completely leaving you with nothing but nice, dry firewood for use instead!
Windy Or Warmer Weather Can Affect Performance
For a wood stove that can heat well, it is important to have good airflow. If the weather conditions are windy or much warmer than usual, this may affect performance because there isn’t as much need for a lot of ventilation in those types of situations.
Inadequate Chimney Length Or Height
If you have a chimney that is too short or low, it will affect how well your wood stove draws. A longer chimney would provide more suction and thus create better airflow in the home when you want to heat using a wood stove. You can also add an extension if needed for similar results.
Another thing to double-check is that there isn’t any blockage in the way of where exhaust needs to go out from the wood-burning appliance. For example, excess creosote build-up could cause this problem as well which makes sense because fewer hot gasses are able to escape through such conditions so they instead get recirculated back down the firebox without being vented outside.
Making Sure The Door Gasket Is Sealed
If the door gasket is not sealed completely, this may lead to backdraft and affect performance as well. You can use a toothpick or something that fits into the gap of where your wood stove’s door meets the body so you can feel if there happens to be any draft coming from around those areas. If it is happening, try sealing up all loose connections with caulk or putty and then re-test again for better results afterward (see the FAQ section below).
Another tip would be to make sure that whatever surface on which your chimney rests has adequate space underneath because sometimes these appliances will settle down over time and end up putting pressure on your chimney which in turn causes a gap to open up and therefore can lead to backdraft.
The stovepipe is too short
This will cause a lack of draft that can lead to smoke backing into the house instead of going up and out through your chimney. Although many people use their wood stove with nothing but a simple pipe, most experts recommend adding an insulated flue liner for better performance and safety. These are available from all major manufacturers.
The chimney is blocked
If your stove or flue pipe is partially obstructed, the flow of smoke and gas will be reduced making it difficult for a draft to develop inside the stove. It can also result in an uneven burn that creates excess creosote buildup within your wood-burning appliance.
A blockage must be removed as soon as possible so you don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have any concerns about this issue, contact a professional installer to determine if there’s a problem concern before attempting any repairs on your own without knowing what they’re doing could create more problems than solutions!
The chimney is too long
If your wood stove pipe or flue vent goes up through the roof and it’s more than three times taller than the height of your appliance, this will reduce the amount of draft going out through your chimney because air has to rise a greater distance before exiting outside. This also makes for a very difficult fire that gets starved for oxygen which results in poor performance and potentially incomplete combustion creating excess creosote buildup within your wood-burning heater.
A longer chimney can be shortened by adding an extension from either end but you have to ensure there are no obstructions along its entire length such as bird nests, branches, or other debris that could cause blockages during installation repair work!