A correctly installed and maintained stove should provide many years of trouble free warmth, however when problems do occur it is important to understand what they could be and how they can be resolved. Below are some common issues seen when stoves are not used or maintained correctly and ways they can be resolved.

If you have a different issue or need some more information, don’t hesitate to contact us on 0333 090 3430 or via email at info@glowingflames.com

  1. Stove is difficult to light / keep lit

Common causes:

  • Damp fuel – Wood should be maximum 20% moisture and ideally 12-15%. Always purchase fuel from a reputable dealer. These will be seasoned and should meet the moisture requirements. Be sure to always follow the storage instructions provided. You can also purchase a moisture tester to check prior to lighting that your fuel meets the requirements.
  • Poor draught and chimney strength – Your chimney needs to pull through adequate air for combustion. Flue draught should be between 12Pa and 18Pa. This is not something that could normally be tested at home and you may need to contact an installation engineer to test your chimney strength and advise any remedial works.
  • Logs too big – You should always start your fire slowly. The best way is to start with only very small wood logs in the base of your stove, start the fire with a fire lighter and some kindling. Once the small logs ignite you can start to add larger logs. A common approach is to build a small tower of fuel. With larger logs at the bottom, then small logs, then kindling and then fire lighters on the top. The fire will slowly move down the pile igniting each layer slowly. This gives the fire box and the flue time to warm up before having a large flame.
  • Chimney/flue blocked – Chimneys can become blocked by a build up of soot. It is very important to have your flue/chimney inspected and cleaned regularly. As a minimum once per year but perhaps more depending on how often you use your stove. Soot build up can also lead to chimney fires so it is very important to prevent a build up.
  1. Fuel burns too quickly

The burn rate can be controlled by adjusting the air vents on your stove changing the amount of air drawn in for combustion. There are circumstances where the fuel can burn faster than the stove is designed for.

Common causes:

  • Excessively strong chimney draught – If by turning down the vents the fire still burns too quickly, this is normally due to excessively strong draught on the chimney. Theis can cause over firing and draw too much air up through the chimney and through the stove causing a very high burn rate. A flue damper can be added into the flue reduce the draught.
  • Fuel type/size – try experimenting with different types of wood/fuel and different sized logs. Coal and slightly larger

logs will burn slower. Softwood such as pine will burn particularly fast. Ideally use seasoned, naturally dried logs

(hardwood) where possible.

  1. Smoke comes back into room

A small amount of smoke may enter the room when you open the door. This is normal but should only last a few seconds.

If smoke continually leaks into the room whilst using the fire, stop using it immediately by closing all the vents until the fire is extinguished, then open all windows in the room and exit the room. You must not use the stove again until it has been inspected by an expert.

Common causes:

  • Insufficient air supply into the room – A stove needs a constant air supply to maintain an efficient burn and maintain the updraft so the smoke leaves up through the chimney. Modern homes are often better insulated, and airflow can be reduced. An air brick can be added to the wall of the room which will increase the airflow. This will have a minimal impact on the overall insulation and efficiency of your home but can provide enough air to ensure correct ventilation for your stove.
  • Blocked chimney – have the chimney swept and checked by a registered chimney sweep.
  • Cold chimney/Flue – A chimney which has been left unused for long periods or on extremely cold days may be unable to create an updraft because the temperature of the air in the flue is too low. In this instance a flue should be pre-heated. This can be done by creating a small fire in your stove that does not produce large amounts of smoke. Light a candle and place it in the stove for 15-20 minutes is often suitable to heat the column of air and create an updraft.

You can also use fire lighters or kindling. Often building a fuel tower as described above with layers of different fuel (logs, kindling then firelighters) is good enough to heat the air sufficiently.

This is a common issue with new stoves as the chimney may not have been used for many years.

  1. Glass gets dirty quickly

Common causes:

  • Stoves with an Airwash system need to have the relevant vent opened during use. This is designed to direct air across the inside of the glass and clear it of debris and particulates.
  • Primary Vent left open – Do not leave the primary air vent open all of the time with stoves with airwash systems. The air flow from the main vent interferes with the Airwash secondary flow and prevents correct operation. Always shut Primary once fire is established, and only ever open as much as necessary to get the fire going or to give a short ‘boost’ to new wood when refuelling.
  • Poor fuel – wet wood or softwood (e.g. pine) will produce a lot of tar, creosote and soot, dirtying the glass and eventually blocking the flue.
  • Fuel loaded to close to window or overloaded stove – There needs to be a gap between the fuel and the stove glass to ensure good airflow. Do not over fill your stove will too much fuel.
  • Lack of cleaning – always be sure to follow the cleaning regime set out in the operating instructions which are provided with your stove. This will ensure optimum performance, reduce soot build up and reduce risk of fires.

      5. Not enough heat being produced

Common causes:

  • Poor quality fuel – logs should be dry well seasoned hardwood.
  • Poor draught and chimney strength – see previous notes.
  • Excessive draught – too much heat being lost up the chimney – try a damper in the flue.
  • Insufficient air supply - Check air supply is sufficient / vents on stove are clear. Does the room have a vent?

What to do in the event of a chimney fire:-

  • cut off the air supply to the stove, i.e. close all air supplies
  • move any combustible materials well-away from the stove
  • get everyone out safely
  • make sure that the fire brigade has clear access
  • call 999


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