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 2020-03-31 14:08:51
@ Gaye Ambrose Hi Gaye That can happen if it's been sitting for a while and rainwater has been
coming in. You can minimise the risk by: - Occasionally lighting the stove to evaporate water. -
Leaving the door ajar to allow air to flow through. - Fitting a chimney cowl that minimises the
amount of water that gets into the flue. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires 2020-03-31 13:58:16
@ Paul Mills Hi Paul Do you mean the draw up the chimney is too strong? Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gaye Ambrose 2020-03-28 23:51:02
We have had a new stove fitted which is not yet been used but water has come from the chimney and
rusted our new burner , what could be wrong ?
paul mills 2020-03-18 17:21:00
I have got an inset log burner that is only about 8 months old and this week it keeps drawing away
when all the blowers are off it is a multi fuel burner can you help
Eric 2020-03-14 15:15:12
I am burning Sunbrite coal. on a Hunter Telford 8 insert, with a boiler. And have been having
Kliger. The stove is about 8 years old. and this problem has been present for the past 5 years. I
have sort advise from Hunter to no avail. My Local coal mad has changed the fule twice. I am at a
loss, Hope you can advise me. Eric PS the stove was fitted by a qualified chap.
Gr8Fires 2020-02-24 12:42:21
@ Angela Gane Hi Angela Absolutely, as long as it is done safely. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires 2020-02-24 12:41:30
@ Allan Barrett Hi Allan Generally, problems with grates not functioning properly are due to soot
depositing in the workings and causing it to be blocked or seized. If you think there's an
underlying fault, we'd recommend contacting the manufacturer and/or retailer. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Nicola Butterworth 2020-02-22 13:17:24
Hi, We had an Flavel Arundel stove fitted around 4 years ago and the fire bricks have come loose but
also the roof in the fire keeps falling down when the stove is in use. I've tried to put it back up
and it stays for a while but then falls down again. Is there anything I can use or do I need to get
Allan Barrett 2020-02-15 10:39:33
I have Contura i4 modern multi stove for burning logs and smokeless coal. It has a bottom grate and
a top sliding grate which closes off the grate if you want to burn logs. The fire is five years old
and and we almost always burn smokeless fuel and rarely logs. Since we have had the fire I have
replaced the sliding grate three times, the log bar probably four times and recently replaced all of
the removable parts including the main bottom grate at a considerable cost. The main problem is the
sliding grate which only after a short period of use becomes jammed and imovable so even if we
wanted to burn logs we couldn't because we cannot close the bottom grate. The sliding grate suffers
substantial bowing and clinkering eventually leading to total failure by cracking and breaking
apart. I would appreciate any suggestions you are able to offer.
Gr8Fires 2020-02-10 14:48:26
@ Ellen Barry Hi Ellen You could investigate these things:
Gr8Fires 2020-02-10 14:42:33
@ Karen Ferncombe Hi Karen, It's hard to know from here, but you could consider: - have you
changed fuel type (or even wood type) since? - have you changed the way you're lighting or
operating the stove? - is your home cooler in general for any reason (e.g. new vent, windows open
more often etc.)? - have you had the chimney swept recently? A slight blockage in the chimney could
be causing a less efficient burn. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires 2020-02-10 14:18:02
@ Jonathan Colson Hi Jonathan If the stove has been in regular use or the logs you've been burning
aren't fully seasoned, it is possible that another sweep is required. The most likely explanation
for the smell is that rain/damp conditions is causing soot and creosote build-up inside the flue to
run down to the stove. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires 2020-02-10 14:13:18
@ Val Christian Hi Val Our advice would be similar to for a stuck door:
https://blog.gr8fires.co.uk/2016/04/18/my-woodburner-door-is-stuck/ It's probably something
(soot/creosote/debris) stuck in the workings of the vent. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Karen Ferncombe 2020-02-06 22:42:29
Hi we have a stove and it was heating well for last few months now it doesn’t seem to be
generating a lot of heat any tips
Ellen Barry 2020-02-03 09:45:29
My solid fuel stove bangs when in use and not in use
Jonathan Colson 2020-01-23 08:02:56
Smell in room when log burner not in use. We use our log burner 2/3 days a week. In January we have
noticed a smokely smell in the lounge when the log burner is not in use and outside it is
damp/foggy/no wind/air circulation. there is no or very little smell when considtions are windy.
Our chimney has been swept in summer 2019. Can you do anything to imporve this? Should you block
the flue with paper when not in use?
Val Christian 2020-01-21 14:20:18
We have a Croft junior for 3years now but the air flow lever appears to be sticking how would I find
out if theres anything stuck in it as thats how it feels Kind regards Val Christian
Gr8Fires 2020-01-21 13:00:19
@ David Cole Hi David Condensation can be a result of moisture in the air meeting the cold metal,
so it can be normal. For the other issues, we'd suggest contacting the retailer or manufacturer to
discuss. Thanks, Gr8Fires
Gr8Fires 2020-01-21 12:54:27
@ Patricia O’Donnell Hi Patricia Some things to investigate: - Whether the door has slipped off
its hinges slightly. - Whether there is some debris in the hinges or around the door that is
affecting how it closes. - Whether the stove rope is broken or frayed and affecting how the
closes. - Whether the door has become warped (e.g. from the stove being operated at too high a
temperature). Thanks, Gr8Fires
David Cole 2020-01-18 08:58:42
I have a fireline gas stove and it’s dripping condensation from the left and right hand corner of
the door , is this normal ???...also the door Allen fixing screw doesn’t screw in. Also the stove
liner is started to burn the paint when the fire is on full power ??