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Problems With Wood Burning Stoves

The wood-burning stove provides cozy heat in the home during the cold weather months. Walking into a home heated with a wood-burning stove gives an immediate sensation of warmth, a feeling which many electric heating units are not able to reproduce. Although they are effective for heating and can be used for cooking, wood-burning stoves have their fair share of potential problems to deal with.

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Smoke and Odor

Sometimes, lighting a fire in a wood-burning stove will result in strong odors and white smoke in the air inside the house. If the odor you smell is not simply the smell of wood burning and you see accompanying white smoke, then it likely has something to do with the paint on the stove, according to the Victorian Fireplace Shop. When a new stove is lit for the first time, or if you have painted any part of the stove since it was last used, the smell could be from the paint curing.

Fire Won't Start

If you can't get the fire to start in the wood-burning stove, there could be several reasons for it. Fire has to have oxygen to burn. To ensure that it is getting the right combustion air and a slight draft, open up the dampers. Also be sure there isn't too much wood in the fireplace in the beginning to allow for appropriate airflow. Damp kindling could also prevent the fire from starting, especially if there is a lot of smoke. Wood for a stove should typically be cut and covered for six months for optimum burning, according to the Victorian Fireplace Shop.

Poor Burn Efficiency

Poor burn efficiency means that you are not getting the most out of the fuel source for your wood-burning stove. In this case, the fuel source is the wood. You may find that your stove burns it too quickly and you don't have enough to last as long as you believe it should last. This means more wood gathering or purchasing and more ashes to get rid of.

The problem with poor burn efficiency is often worn or missing gaskets on the stove. The gaskets around the doors, ash pan, intakes or panels may be worn out and cracked or gone completely. When this happens, the air flow is not happening as the stove was designed to handle, which will lead to an inconsistent burn, according to Chimneys.com.

Burn Safety Hazard

Wood-burning stoves have the added problem of extremely hot surfaces being accessible to anyone in the room. If you have small children, a wood-burning stove can be a serious hazard as the surface metal on the unit can be hot enough to cause serious burns on contact.

Dry Air

Wood-burning stoves cause the air in your house to become quite dry. This lack of humidity inside your home can lead to dry skin, chapped lips or other irritating issues. Place a pot of water on top of the stove to release water vapors into the air in the form of steam, which will help replace some of the moisture.

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About the Author

The former chef/owner of Keegan's Creole Restaurant, Lee Morgan's writing has appeared for more than 15 years in many news publications including the "Tennesseean," the "Tampa Tribune," "West Hawaii Today," the "Honolulu Star Bulletin" and the "Dickson Herald," where he was sports editor. He holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Middle Tennessee State University.

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