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.co.uk 2014-04-08 16:01:09
Hi Adeline, Unless you're in a particularly windy/exposed location, it's probably that the draw
still isn't strong enough. You might try a chimney cowl to see if that helps.
http://www.gr8fires.co.uk/wp/2014/03/18/which-chimney-cowl-is-best-for-your-home Thanks, Gr8Fires
Adeline Withers 2014-04-08 15:02:37
New stove installed recently and had vent put in as not enough air and since then we have black
substance coming from chimney access vent, staining the bricks. Any idea what might be causing this
Gr8Fires.co.uk 2014-03-13 12:57:19
Hi Margaret, Tricky to diagnose from here. Where is the soot in the room coming from? What are you
burning on the stove? Thanks, Gr8Fires.co.uk
Margaret Cummings 2014-03-12 10:38:09
We have installed a stove just a month ago but are concerned why ther is particles of soot both in
the room and floating around in the air outdoors?
Gr8Fires.co.uk 2014-02-26 10:41:34
Hi Dave, It's difficult to diagnose from here, but obviously it sounds like something went wrong
when the rope was being replaced if it was working OK before. Perhaps the wrong rope
thickness? Thanks, Gr8Fires.co.uk
Dave Chuter 2014-02-25 10:27:23
Hiya, I recently had to take the door off my Dunsley Highlander 5 Multi Fuel Burner to replace the
rope. Since I have put the door back on the fire seems to raw and burn the wood too quickly even
when the vents are closed. I have put water on the rope (when the burner was cold) and closed the
door and then re-opened it and there was water around the burner suggesting the seal is good. I
can't fathom what the problem is. Hoping you can shed some light on this matter. Many Thanks Dave
Gr8Fires.co.uk 2014-02-14 11:05:22
Hi Dougie, Given the weather over the last 2 weeks, the wind is the most likely cause. If it turns
out to be an ongoing problem you could try a cowl like this one:
http://www.gr8fires.co.uk/universal-roto-cowl-inc-fitting-kit The insulation might be a
contributing factor if there's now less ventilation in the room - the draw up the flue could be
suffering as a result. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Dougie brown 2014-02-12 20:17:54
Hi we've had a stove now for about 2 years and never had a problem and just this last 2 weeks when
we open the door the smokes coming out into the room we have checked the throat plate and the flu
which are both fine. Now were not really sure what it would be and wondering could you please help.
We had cavity wall insulation put in a while back and we were maybe wondering do you think that
could be anything to do with it thanks
Gr8Fires.co.uk 2014-02-11 13:59:51
Hi Paul, Has it always done it, or just since a change of glass? It's very difficult to tell from
here what the problem might be. Perhaps find the same model in a showroom and try to see if yours is
missing any screws or other components to hold it in place? Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires.co.uk 2014-02-11 13:49:02
Hi Pat, Yes, it's absolutely essential that there's ventilation. Thanks, Gr8Fires