Ask Reece – Perils of over-firing a stove and smoke in the room

Fireplace Product’s Reece Toscani answers your questions on all things stove and fire! Today he discusses the potential issues behind smoke coming into the room each time a customer opens a door to refuel their stove. He also approaches the subject of over-firing, and the damage it can cause to your stove.

Dear Reece,

When I open my stove’s door to refuel, smoke billows out into the room. Why is this and how do I stop it from happening?

Yours,

Smoke Signals

Dear Smoke Signals,

Sometimes if you open the door too quickly you can ‘pull’ some smoke into the room due to the pressure differences inside and outside the stove. If this happens try unlocking the door, leave it for a few seconds and then slowly open the door.

If after doing this you are still getting smoke coming out into the room, it could be that the fuel you are burning is producing excessive smoke, this is usually down to damp wood, and it’s the moisture being baked out of the log which is causing the smoke.

Alternatively you may have a downdraft issue which is causing the smoke to come back into the room. This can be caused by various factors, but typically you should check your chimney pressure (you will need an installer to do this), and possibly change your chimney cowl to an anti-downdraft or rotating cowl.

Hope this helps!

Yours,

Reece

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Dear Reece,

I have a stove and I REALLY like burning stuff in it – wood, coal, fence panels, diesel… Anything goes!

 Also I live in the Antarctic so I’m cold ALL the time, so I burn lots of fuel. But I also REALLY like burning stuff, have I told you? 

However my friend told me I may be over-firing it. If this is the case, what damage can this do?

Yours,

Pyro Maniac

Dear Pyro Maniac,

Firstly, only burn the fuel the stove is made to run on, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Diesel is never a good idea. Don’t be an idiot.

Over firing your stove can do irreparable damage to your stove. Most stoves are made from either cast-iron or steel, and are often protected internally by firebricks which line the inner walls. These bricks are there to help insulate the sides of your stove from direct contact with the heat produced in order to maintain the longevity of the stove. These bricks will need to be replaced over time, but over-firing your stove can reduce the lifespan of these consumable items, including baffle plates, grates and glass.

Continual over-firing will eventually lead to warping, bending or in extreme cases, cracking of the outer cast-iron or steel panels of the stove. Over-firing is usually caused by running a stove with the stove door or ash-pan door ajar and therefore letting more air into the product than is intended.

Unless told otherwise, you should never do this for extended periods of time. Burning liquids or chemicals or accelerants that burn very hot can also cause over-firing. Similarly, burning too much fuel and re-loading too often can cause this problem or burning treated wood can lead to more heat being produced than expected.

You should always select a stove that is suitable for your room size rather than something too small and run it harder to try and make up the shortfall. If you’re not sure what size stove you need for your room, please contact a member of the sales team for some advice.

Yours,

Reece

If you have a question that you would like answered by Reece then please leave a comment below or get in touch via email!

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