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Smoke leaks from my cast iron wood burning stove at start  RSS feed

 
Wil Tam
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Hey guys, I'm fairly new here but I recently bought an older house that has a cast-iron wood burning stove in one of the rooms. 
I love fireplaces and have had a lot of places with built in in-wall fireplaces however this is my first experience with an add on wood burning stove.

I had it expected and cleaned and it's working in great oder and clear and the flue is good, however when I first put firewood in there and light it a ton of smoke pours out the door as opposed to up the chimney.  Even when I close the door a fair amount of smoke leaks out the air flow vents for about 15 seconds. 
After 15 seconds the smoke all goes up the chimney and no longer smokes the room and its great however those first few seconds of smoke pouring out really smokes up the room and requires us to open the door to help air out the room which also loses a ton of heat from the room.

Is there any suggestions or anything I'm doing wrong?
Is that normal?

Normally in the past when I've lit a fire in my fireplace the smoke always just goes straight up the chimney and doesn't take time for that to happen.

I know here it's only 15 seconds or so but it's a ton of smoke...

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!
 
Regan Dixon
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If the outlet to the chimney is higher than the firebox, and the smoke has a direct line of travel to the chimney, there should be no problem.  If there is a bypass closed to heat the oven, making the smoke go around the oven box to heat the oven, then the smoke will likely come right back out in your face.  See if there is an "open/shut" slider near where the chimney connects to the stove.  Move it to the other position, if there is one.  If you want to use the oven, wait until the fire is going good, before diverting the smoke.

It's also possible that the outlet to the chimney is rather low--for some reason, some stoves are designed that way--and unfortunately there's not much to be done if that's the case.

Hope it's the former.
 
Mike Jay
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At least on my wood stove the natural draft is stronger if it's less than 40F outside.  One thing I sometimes do when I have issues is try to get some quick flame going (newspaper) to start the heat moving the right way.  It can still back puff but it's better than a big smoky pile of stuff trying to get burning and drafting at the same time.  I've never tried a cleaner heat source (like some candles or a firestarted) to get the air moving but it may be worth a shot.
 
David Livingston
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It happens to us all the time once the fire after a couple of mins it stops
The only time it's a bother is in the autumn when we restart the fire up then it takes longer depending on the wind .
I don't see it as an issue
David
 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree with Mike.  We start a small hot fire with paper and small kindling sticks.  Only a little puff of smoke will exit the open door.
 
Wil Tam
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Thanks so much for all the replies!

I know some ppl may not see it as much of a problem, but the smoke irritates my eyes and nose and has no where to go unless I open the window or door and with it being -20 degrees out opening the door till all the smoke clears basically loses all the heat in the house.

I will try pre-heating it with some paper and kindling. 
My only question is normally I try a top down burn and set big logs on the bottom followed by some kindling and paper and so it all catches and burns cleanly. With the pre-heating method, you burn just kindling and paper? Then when it's all orange and embers I'd add the larger logs and restart the fire?
 
David Livingston
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Actually trying it top down might make things worse as it would hinder the draft coming from the bottom
David
 
Mike Jay
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I haven't tried a top down fire yet.  I just lay a medium sized log in one way, put a splintery smallish log cross wise on it, put my paper next to the first log and almost under the second log and then pile up a half a dozen little pieces of pine on the paper, leaning on the first log.  By the time the paper and little pine kindling gets going it can burn long enough to get the second log going.  So I come back 10 minutes to a decent fire and add a few more logs.
 
Roy Hinkley
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I guess you have a tall column of cold air in the chimney. It's heavy and wants to sink. You open the stove door and it has a place to go - inside.
When the chimney is stone cold you need some fast heat to push that column of cold air out and get the air moving in the right direction, something my father called "warming up the chimney".

He would build the fire as usual but behind the wood, close to the stove flue he would loosely crumple 3 or 4 sheets of newspaper.  With the same match he would first light the newspaper at the rear, then the tinder bundle and close the door. You have to be quick about this. If any smoke at all bothers you then just light the newspaper and after the air is moving nicely up the chimney light the tinder bundle.
 
Alder Burns
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I almost always do similar to Roy by twisting some paper into the shape of a torch, lighting the end of it and sticking this right against the outlet to the stovepipe.  After a moment it will "roar" and it will be obvious that the pipe is drafting well.  Then drop the burning remnant of the paper torch onto your kindling and away you go....
 
Su Ba
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Having heated homes for 40+ years using a wood stove, the only time smoking happened to me was when I was learning to use a brick chimney that wasn't tall enough. You see, brick chimneys take longer to establish a warm draft compared to a metal chimney. Plus that dang brick chimney was too short compared to the trees around the house. Once we trimmed the trees, added two foot to the chimney (we used a chimney pipe....quick & easy), and I learned to preheat the chimney with a little pre-fire, I no longer had any smoking at all.

With both my steel box and cast iron stoves, I always started out with a little fire in order to get a good draft established. That meant some crumbled newspaper with easily combustible kindling atop. I liked to use pine twigs mixed with cherry or maple twigs and then some 1" thick sticks above that. Well dried catalpa or sycamore made fine kindling too. I'd let the kindling burn for a couple minutes, not long, then add a few pieces of small split stuff. Logs were not added until there was a burning base.

The species of wood can make a difference when using a wood stove. I had access to sycamore, birch, pine, oak, maple, sassafras, black cherry, catalpa, apple, and mulberry. Some I termed my "day wood" and others were reserved for "night wood". Oak and black cherry were my preferred night wood.

The wood stoves that I used were all airtight types. They burned better with the door shut and the lower air drafts open, and any upper air drafts closed when starting up. This got the stove to draw better at start up.

Currently I use a Morso Squirrel cast iron stove combined with a metal chimney. EPA requires that the bottom air intake be welded shut. ...something to do with emission requirements, I suppose. But this interferes with starting the stove and results in smoking at start up. Based upon my long experience with various stoves, I opted to remove the weld and make the lower air intake operational. This instantly solved the difficult start up and smoke. Once this stove is warm, I can close the lower air intake and adjust the upper air intake to control the fire.

By the way, I assume that your stove is an airtight and that the door gasket is tight.
 
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