Heating the home with wood has recently become a very attractive alternative to the high cost of petroleum-based heating for many Americans. Modern wood-fired stoves are very efficient, but occasionally a problem can arise. If you have had little experience with wood burning stoves and are experiencing a disturbing amount of smoke in your home, a few simple tips can get your stove operating in prime condition and relieve your home of unwanted smoke in no time.
Check the dampers. Dampers exist in the flue (the chimney) as well as in the front and/or side of the stove. Sometimes if your fire is not burning hot enough to re-burn the excess carbon in the smoke from the initial burn, sooty smoke can leak out these front and side dampers. Close your front dampers and open the flue damper until your fire reaches at least 204 degrees C before closing the flue damper and opening the front and side dampers.
Get a hot burn going. Hard woods tend to burn the hottest for the longest period of time. Oaks (red, white and live) are the wood of choice in most stoves. These will reach some of the hottest temperatures and encourage a re-burning of the smoke's carbon resulting in lower chances of smoke. If you are burning soft wood, such as pine, or a softer hard wood, such as ash, then you will have to use more wood and wait longer to get the stove to at least 204 degrees C at which point the burn should be smokeless.
Check the glass. Many wood burning stoves have a glass front which, though tempered, can crack. If your glass has cracked, it will only get worse as the expansion and contraction of the stove exploits that weakness, allowing more smoke to enter your room. Contact your stove retailer or manufacturer for replacement glass.
Check the flue and chimney. Sometimes cracks or other flaws can develop in the flue and chimney of the stove, allowing smoke to leak out into the house instead of being taken outside. While your stove is burning, inspect (but do not touch with bare hands) the chimney and flue for wisps of smoke. If you find chinks in the flue, there is high temperature patch kits that can work on a flue. If instead you find large gaps, contact the person or corporation who installed the chimney to fix the problem. If you installed it yourself, let the stove cool before reinstalling the flue.
Always treat a stove as "hot" unless it has been at least a day since there was a fire in it. Copper, iron and other materials of the stove can retain heat for a surprisingly long time and can cause burns to the unprotected hand.