Common Problems with Wood Burning and Multi-Fuel Stoves and How to Solve Them
If you’re not an expert in using wood burning or multi-fuel stoves, sometimes the problems or little quirks that happen from time to time can seem quite daunting.
More often than not, it’s very easy to solve whatever difficulty you’re encountering.
Here are a few common problems and some suggestions on how to overcome them.
Difficulty lighting the stove
In most cases, problems with lighting a stove are just down to not using the right materials or not preparing properly. Check out our article on lighting a stove for an in-depth guide to getting your stove going.
Difficulty controlling the stove temperature or overfiring
Believe it or not, your stove can get too hot. If you don’t control the temperature your stove can run so hot that it overfires or damages your stove.
A common cause is too much oxygen getting to the fire. Check all door and glass seals to make sure that’s not the creating the problem. Make sure you’re familiar with all the controls on the stove and proper operation as detailed in the instruction manual.
If it’s a boiler stove, check that the thermostat control flap is clear of debris. In extreme circumstances, consider having a flue stabiliser fitted.
Stove not burning well
The most common cause of this is using damp fuel (read our article on the importance of using properly dried wood).
Make sure you’re burning the type of fuel specified in the instruction manual for your stove (read our article on how to operate a wood burning stove to achieve maximum burning efficiency).
If you’re doing everything correctly, have a professional check your flue for a blockage or other problems.
Stove is smoking
Almost all stoves that are connected to a good chimney will never have smoke or fumes coming into the room.
Smoke in your room usually indicates flue problems. Often a lack of ventilation is responsible. Flues or chimneys need an air supply into the room to be able to remove the smoke effectively.
Another common cause is a cooker ventilation hood in the room or an adjoining room. These hoods can sometimes suck smoke and fumes back down a chimney.
Fireclay flue seals cracking
Cracked fireclay seals around the stove outlet look messy and unsightly. Mix fireclay with heat resistant glass fibre rope, which will bond the fireclay and stop cracks forming.
New stoves sometimes give off a paint smell when first fired up, but this should disappear after a few days. This happens while the paint is curing. Check your instruction manual for more information.
Prolonged smells for more than 3-4 days suggest some sort of problem. Contact the manufacturer in this case.
Bars or grate have deteriorated
All stove bars and grates deteriorate with use, some faster than others. The type of fuel you use, burn rate and frequency of ash removal are all key factors in their lifespan.
Check your instruction manual to see the best fuel to use. Always avoid petroleum-based fuels - sometimes known as ‘pet coke’. Overfiring your appliance, and leaving the ash pit doors or all air vents open for long periods can also increase deterioration.
Clean your ashes out regularly in a multi-fuel stove to ensure there is an air flow around the bars to keep their temperature down. If the ash pan fills to the point where the ashes touch the bars, there will be premature damage.
Glass dirty and difficult to clean
Most modern stoves have an airwash facility to keep your glass clean when burning (read our blog to find out ‘what is airwash?’). Make yourself familiar with the operation of the airwash by reading the appliance operation manual.
If it’s working well, the airwash will burn soot off the glass when the stove is in use.
The best time to clean the glass by hand is shortly after lighting. Use a damp cloth before the glass gets too hot. The soot will wipe off easily.
Doing this when the glass is too hot will cause the water on the cloth to turn to steam, which should be avoided. Stubborn stains can be removed by dipping your cloth in the ashes in the ash pan and then rubbing the stains.
Using abrasive cleaning fluids or cloths will damage the glass and make it more difficult to clean in future.
If you’ve got a problem that wasn’t answered in this article, please get in touch and we’ll try to write an article to help you.
Gr8Fires 2016-04-18 10:27:57
@ Margaret Stevenson Hi Margaret, Unless you've been having particularly heavy downpours (in which
case, you could get a chimney cowl to protect against the rain), it is likely to be condensation
caused by not having the stove work hard enough for the gases to be drawn up the chimney:
Gr8Fires 2016-04-18 09:13:14
@ Sue Scott Hi Sue, Try to get an extension of some kind on over the handle to get a bit of extra
leverage (like a pipe or a wrench). We wouldn't recommend WD40 or other oils because the door is
likely to be stuck further on into the stove where the catch operates at the back of the door frame.
If you can free it with the extra leverage, rub down the catch and door frame where the catch
operates with a bit of sandpaper to avoid it happening again. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Sue scotts 2016-04-17 05:04:36
Hi door on my wood burner is locked handle loose but can't open. Seems no way to get in apart from
smashing glass. It's an an Arrow make help Thanks Sue
Gr8Fires 2016-04-07 18:04:14
@ June Scholes Hi June, If the stove was left unused for a while after the damp cloth was used, it
is possible this caused the rust. And if the rust was left untreated for a while, that might have
led to further rust. Here are our tips for dealing with rust:
June Scholes 2016-04-06 20:11:22
We have recently bought a log burner. However we started to notice on the top (towards the front)
what looked like at first RUST SPOTS. We contacted the company we bought and supplied it from and
sent a couple of photos. I told them what we burn (which was kiln dried Ash) and used a very damp
cloth to wipe the whole fire and wiped it over with dry one. They contacted the manufacturer who
said it was because we used a damp cloth and should only a dry cloth, but would send us some paint
as a gesture of good will (which we are still waiting) . Now we have noticed it is getting worse
(the black is coming off onto the DRY cloth when I dust it) I contacted them again to let them know
this, explaining that I was not convinced it is just caused by the damp cloth because surely ALL the
paint on the stove would be coming off (not just the top) seeing that I wiped all the stove. Now I
am waiting for the installers to come and look at it. Please could you give me any advice before
they come, so I know a little knowledge. ie what you may think it could be or COULD it be because I
used this damp cloth at first. If it is, why is it still coming off and why is it only on the top? I
would be SO grateful! Regards June
Gr8Fires 2016-04-04 12:08:25
@ Lynda Halliwell Hi Lynda, Here are our thoughts on that very problem:
Lynda Halliwell 2016-04-04 11:40:27
Hi, I have a Stovax Stockton 14HB which we absolutely love it gives us heating and hot water however
the dust is driving us round the bend! I can dust twice a day:( It doesn't seem to make a different
which wood we use or when we use coal. We have asked the heating engineers who installed the fire
and they have checked the fire and can't find anything wrong, Can you come up with any reason why
the fire should be creating so much dust? Many thanks Lynda
Gr8Fires 2016-03-11 14:17:31
@ Suzanne young Hi Suzanne, You could try rubbing the plastic off with some wire wool, then
touching up the affected area with stove paint. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires 2016-03-11 14:16:08
@ D. Fisher Hi, The paint can be a bit soft at the start while it is curing, and this makes it
easily rubbed off through handling with the glove. It's a good idea to get a can of stove paint that
matches the finish on your stove to keep it looking fresh. Especially as the summer arrives and you
won't be using the stove for a few months, it is good to touch up any bare metal to prevent any
moisture getting hold and causing rust. Even if rust does appear it is no big worry, just clean off
with a wire brush and paint. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Suzanne young 2016-03-11 12:58:35
I left a plastic bag on top of my wood burning stove by accident and it melted I got most of it off,
but there is a residue which I cannot remove. I've tried white spirits and acetone, but neither work
do you have any suggestions!
D fisher 2016-03-08 11:01:07
Hi we have had our wood burner now for around four months and the paint on the door has come off
leaving a. Goldish. Colour..... Is this normal ?
Gr8Fires 2016-03-07 16:52:38
@ Chris Marshall Hi Chris, Which Aarrow model is it? Thanks, Gr8Fires
Chris Marshall 2016-03-03 17:28:57
The firebrick has fallen from the top of our Aarow burner - is this a big problem? I can't seem to
push it back into place. What would you recommend?
Gr8Fires 2016-02-27 21:11:31
@ Anne Delaney Hi Anne, Hopefully this article will answer your question:
Gr8Fires 2016-02-27 21:10:06
@ Ronan Lynn Hi Ronan Here's some further reading on the smoke problem:
anne delaney 2016-02-27 10:49:29
My multi fuel stove is causing my ceiling to go black and there is soot on my furniture and picture
rail .How do we solve it .
Ronan lynn 2016-02-25 22:00:52
Stanley ardmore multi stove, window goes black and when filling up with coal or wood smoke pours out
into room (lots of smoke) only started this after 4 months, was brilliant before this, would my
chimney need cleaned after 4 months, was bought new 4 months ago, can you sort my problem please,
Ronan 07711664080 cheers........
Gr8Fires 2016-02-22 11:33:42
@ Michelle Tivey Hi Michelle, It is fairly common for ash to settle on woodburners and the
surrounding area. A little will come out into the room when refuelling, especially when the fire
dies down and the flue draw decreases because it is not hot enough to suck the smoke, soot and ash
up while the door is open. But if you think what you're experiencing is more serious that that: -
make sure the door is closed when the stove is in use - make sure wood it is properly dry and
seasoned (tested with a moisture meter, not just assumed to be dry). Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires 2016-02-22 11:31:35
@ Norman Wallace Hi Norman, This is the rope you'll need:
Michelle Tivey 2016-02-20 14:05:28
Hi could you shed any light as to why my tiger log burner is leaving a soot coating over all my
furniture.it happens every time we have it lit which is most days.many thanks.oh we have it swept
twice a year and clean it out every day.