Skip to comments.Vanity! Question about backdraft in a wood burning stove
Posted on 11/17/2012 10:29:15 AM PST by jsh3180
I've been heating my home primarily with a wood burning stove for two years. A Napoleon 1400. In the past couple of weeks, I've been getting a smoke backdraft into the room when I open to load more logs. The wood is well seasoned, but I'm guessing I may have an obstruction in the air intake, preventing a proper draft. Anyone have a similar problem in the past and how best to deal with it? I have supplemental gas heat, but much prefer to use the wood stove. Thanks in advance!
You need to contact a chimney sweep immediately before you burn down the house. You probably have a clogged chimney.
Have the stovepipe Damper wide open when you add logs.
Add a “T” in the stove pipe with a draft control flapper.
These work for me.
If there is blockage in the air vent, it is possible and likely you are getting Carbon monixide into the rooms. Very dangerous indeed.
Get on the roof and check it out, there might be a bird nest or a squirrel nest in the air vent. NOW.
Get on the roof and check it out, there might be a bird nest or a squirrel nest in the air vent. NOW.
I suggest you call a chimney sweep ... now. Do not pass Go, do not collect FR “solutions.”
Fix it before you burn more!!
Could be several issues... when was the last time your chimney & hood were cleaned?
I am going to rely on the gas heat until I can get a professional chimney sweep out here.
Have the flue checked for obstruction right away, as others have suggested. Other than that, I couldn’t offer an explanation as to why the sudden change in performance, unless you’ve been having usually windy weather lately. That can do it.
Could be as simple as a bathroom vent of a Kitchen vent running. Wind can cause downdraft in stovepipe.
Are you logged on?
1) Open damper all the way;
2) Open vents (if your stove has them);
3) Open the stove door a little more slowly than normal (opening it quickly can create a brief backdraft;
4) If you’re still getting smoke; call a chimney swift.
I’ve been heating with wood for thirty years. I will load it up and run it wide open until there is no smoke coming from the chimney (usually about twenty minutes or so - I haven’t needed to look outside for years). At that point I’ll close it down.
Running it wide open each time you load it will keep the chimney cleaned out for a long time; I usually get it cleaned and inspected every 5-6 years, and even then it only requires a light brushing.
“I’m guessing I may have an obstruction in the air intake..”
It’s not the air intake, it’s the exhaust (stovepipe). Sounds like your pipe is clogged. Not likely a bird’s nest this time of year.
Your stove pipe should be higher than your roof ridge for proper draft. Could be a lot of things. Heed other’s advice and call the chimney sweep immediately. Use your back up heat sources until you get the problem solved.
We don’t want to lose any FReepers because of a chimney fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Yes, I am logged on and my beeber is set to stune!
After you solve the problem make sure you put one of those ‘chicken-wire’ covers on the chimney top. Good luck.
When the outside air is equal to the inside air the draft is less which occurs on mild days.
As mentioned if there is an open window or vent on the same level as the stove the pressure will be close to equal and lessen your draft.This occurs for me on mild days,fall and spring.
If you have a cap out side I would go up and remove it and take a look inside.If its a straight shot into the stove you should be able to see down and or do the reverse with a mirror in the stove and powerful light and look up.
You should see light and a clear path.
I have a curve in mine so this dont work. I learned the hard way which is small slow fires suck and do more harm than good.lLong hot fires are mo-better.
A small unnoticed chimney fire(yes they can happen) causes creosote to ignight and it gets like cotton candy and expands cools off and chokes of the flue.
Its worth it to have a chimney sweep out every so often if you don't know how or are afraid to go up there.
I don’t know what your roof pitch or height is, nor your physical condition, but it is not difficult to clean the chimney yourself. If you have the 6” pipe all the way up you will need a 6” brush and enough extensions to reach down to the stove. If you have elbows involved, (that may be part of your problem), you may have to disassemble that section of pipe to access the interior for cleaning. There have been times I have not had a brush and have used a length of chain in the pipe swinging it around and pulling it up and down with good results.
My wood burning stove has fire bricks all around. Ashes will sometimed build up and start blocking the area around where the metal tubing exhausts out of the top of the stove.
I’ve been using a fireplace woodstove insert for about fifteen years, and usually burn a couple of cords a year in it.
One thing to have the sweep look for is if your chimney cap has a creosote build-up on the wire mesh of the cap. I’ve had that happen before.
Regardless, you do want to get your chimney swept every couple of years. It’s worth the peace of mind.
Here’s a couple of good site that tells you about wood heating.
Good decision. A dirty chimney can result in a chimney fire.
Mine is a Country stove that is an insert in a fireplace. I have corriguated stainless inside the chimney and double walled insulated stainless on the outside. The insulated part really stops the creosote from condensing, but the spark arrestor gets buildup that can block things up and then I get smoke when I open the door and it does not burn well. I usually have to go up with a wire brush twice a year to clean off the spark arrestor.
If the top of your chimney is lower than the peak of your home this can happen.
I don’t know if this has been mentioned yet. If you have a whole house fan(A fan that sucks air from inside the home and ejects it into the attic) don’t use it while burning wood in the woodstove. The fan will suck air down the chimney and into the house.
Yep. Your problem is not necessarily a clogged stovepipe. I have had a problem similar to yours every now and then during the past 30 years. Usually, it has something to do with the weather, ie., a lot of wind or screwy barometric pressure or something like that...
BTW, after going 3 or 4 years paying a sweep to come ream out my stovepipe I finally bought my own kit at Home Depot. It's basically a nylon (or wire) brush and a bunch of skinny, pole pieces that screw together one at a time as you feed the brush down the pipe. The kits are not expensive at all. Now I scoot up on the roof a few times each winter and ream out the pipe myself. It's easy and free; I can hardly imagine how much money I have saved over the decades, and I can clean my stovepipe whenever I think it needs it.
Problem solved! Spark arrestor screen at chimney top was gummed up. Cleaned and inspected down chimney. All is now well and fire is going great.
You can get a backdraft when you first light the stove, when the chimney pipe is cold—unless it’s still warm from the day before. But you shouldn’t get a backdraft when the stove is actually warm.
Possibly the intake vent or air circulation is blocked because you don’t do a daily cleanout of the old ashes—just the fluffy, powdery stuff.
But as already noted, a likelier cause is that the chimney needs cleaning out. I generally do mine once a year, after the heating season is over, although every other year may be enough, depending on the stovepipe and stove and the quality of the firewood.
You generally want to open the intake vent until the stove has gotten warmed up, and then you can close it a bit to adjust the amount of heat you get—or even close it all the way to keep it burning slowly overnight. That depends on the stove and the venting system, something you need to fool around with. And it’s a good idea to get one of those magnetic temperature indicators with a magnet on the back and stick it on the stove pipe, to warn you when the stove is getting too hot—or too cool.
OK. I had that problem when we first put the stove in, using an old stovepipe system we inherited from a former owner.
My son-in-law's brother cleaned the chimney for us, and found that the spark arrester screen was clogged with soot. That's common because the metal is coldest up at the top. We simply cut out the screen, since the stove pipe is three stories up and there are no woods or dry brush anywhere near the house if a stray spark ever manages to get near the ground--which I have never seen happen. No problems with clogging at the top since then.
Whether or not you want to do that depends on your own choice and judgment. Is there anything nearby that might get set on fire if an unusually large spark got out?
Oh, and I should mention that we have a metal roof. You might not want to do that if you have a cedar shake roof or something else that is easily flamable.
Chimney sweep. Yep, they are still around. Recommend having yours swept every year at least.
Hope you get your chimney cleaned yearly, creasote builds up inside and can start your house on fire..happened to one of my neighbors when I was on the farm...
We have oak and ash firewood split and stacked to last the next three years at our current burn rate.
The tree guys are due here Monday to take down two big black oaks that will provide wood for the year 2016-18...
We don’t have good wood like that here in the Colorado Rockies. We have pines and aspens. That is why I have to clean twice per winter. I use about 4-5 cords per year and that is what I have right now.
congratulations..I still recommend a thermometer for the flue if its exposed and if not for the top of the fire box.
Mine screws into the flue just above the collar on the stove, a Vermont Castings Vigilant or put it on the fire box as they have a magnet in them.
I was amazed and it showed me I ran the thing too cool and created more problems because of it.
PS:I have a bat or 2 squeeze into my cap each summer and I have a screen up there.
How cold was it oustide when this happened? If not cold enough it could just be that it isn’t drawing well.
Temp outside was approximately 38 degrees. Going down to mid 20’s tonight.
Heres a good chart to ref BTU contained in dif species of wood.
Note the dif in weight between green and dry.
I am fortunate to have access to loads of Shagbark Hickory and right now there are 4 that were dropped and cleaned off last week cut into 5 foot lengths I can barley pick up.Bye next year I will be able to handle them no problem as they will have lost that much weight.
My son in Seattle has the same issue. His wood burns up like paper.
Just an additional thought.. Depending on the type of flue cap you have, you might need to keep in mind that a screen spark arrestor also serves to keep critters (squirrels and sparrows come to mind) from taking up residence inside your chimney during that part of the year when you aren't blowing smoke up it...
So you might need to replace the screen with a suitable critter stopper ;-)
So far so good.
But I probably should have been even more specific. It was a tin sheet with holes cut in it. We removed that and put in a wire mesh fence instead, which lets a lot more air through.
That, and the metal roof!
Ask which ever professional you consult about lengthening your stack to increase draft.
I read your post earlier this morning, but was in the middle of trying to find out what was wrong with my fireplace as the house was filling up with smoke whenever I lit a fire.
My problem is a fireplace, NOT a wood stove, but maybe what I found will help.
I had previously cleaned the flue with the brush, and the connectable rods. I went back up topside this morning, and cleaned it again.
Previously I had vacuumed the intake vent outside of the chimney, but thought maybe it might still be clogged, so I put an air valve hooked to my 5 hp Devilbiss twin tank Contractors gas compressor, and put 125 psi to the sucker,
Then I lit the fireplace. Have been enjoying a smoke free house all this afternoon, and evening.
It was the exterior air intake near the bottom of the chimney that was plugged NOT the flue of the chimney.
Take it for what it’s worth. Just thought I’d pass it along.
wood chopper/spitter/burner husband having burned wood for 30 some years: check your chimney...
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