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Please help me with smoke smell-baby in the house

Post in 'Classic Wood Stove Forums (prior to approx. 1993)' started by jessa4140, Nov 26, 2013.

  1. jessa4140

    jessa4140 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2013
    Messages:
    1
    Loc:
    Pennsylvania
    Hi there everyone, I could really use some help.

    My family and I just moved into a rental home that has a woodstove. Before I go further, please understand that the landlord and rental company are completely useless and couldn't care less.

    From looking online, the woodstove is a Jotul Combifire #4 (the tiki man looking one, my husband calls it!) We'd really like to utilize this for heat for the downstairs because the main heat is oil.

    We managed to get the thing started easily. I grew up with a fireplace so no big deal, I know the basics. My problem is that when we use the screen (for ambiance and to let more heat in) there is a semi strong smell of woodsmoke in the home. I can' see it, and the fire alarms/carbon monoxide alarm doesn't go off but I can smell it. When I close the front door to the stove, it does get better, but I can still smell it.

    Is this normal? More importantly, is this safe? I have to SMALL children, a 2yr old and a baby. I am worried about their lungs and eyes (it stings mine at times although I know I'm pretty sensitive).

    I try to keep a nice hot fire although I don't have a temp gauge. It heats my home to around 70-75 in about 20 mins (which is just oh so nice!) I keep the flue in the full open position (is this right?)

    I had a company come out and check it out, they said there doesn't seem to be a leak, that the chimney looks great, but I didn't have a fire burning at the time.

    Thanks a lot for your help, I really appreciate it!

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  2. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    7,108
    Loc:
    N.E. Penna
    First off, good on you for having the unit inspected. When you said the landlord was useless, I was concerned that there would have been little or no maintenance done on the chimney / stove.

    Generally, if smoke is coming back into the house it is from a restriction such as a cap that is partially plugged (which I'm guessing the chimney sweep checked and/or cleaned) or from a chimney that is too short and not drafting properly, burning in weather where the air is heavy and not very cold, having single wall chimney pipe with a couple of 90's and a short chimney causing reduced draft, etc.

    In all, no this is not normal. No home should smell like smoke with a properly burning stove. What concerns me is that you get this also with the the door closed. In general, the screen is as you mentioned, for ambiance and actually causes more air to run through the stove, burning the load faster and sucking hot air up the chimney actually cooling the home. You may feel more radiant heat at the time, but overall, it's a net loss.

    Is the stove in the basement or the main living area? Is it a tightly sealed home? Is there a basement fan that runs all the time? Clothes drying running often? Bath fan running? Kitchen fan running? Etc? These things pull air out of the home and can pull some smoke into the home from the stove at the same time. Perhaps try cracking a window near the stove when in operation, keep that screen in the closet and use it with the stove door closed, and see if there is any difference?

    Nobody wants to have a health or safety hazard, and especially when kids are involved! We can give you some better advice on the whole system if you share some pictures (don't be stingy, the more the better) of the stove and surroundings, stove connector pipes, chimney inside and out, etc.

    Welcome to the site!

    pen
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    15,247
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    There is also the possibility that your stove and stack are all proper but you are getting smoke infiltrating the house from somewhere else, such as a window/door/leaky area of the house. Do you notice the smell more/less during specific wind directions??
  4. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,697
    Loc:
    northern massachusetts
    i get that smell in my house like jags said above quite often. in the basement. also when you try burning again and you smell it take a flash light over to the stove and turn down the lighting in the stove area or off. run the flashlight beam of light across the stove and look for smoke coming from a seam on the stove. that happened to me a few years back and it took a while for me to find a back seam ever so slightly smoking. just enough to make the house stink.
  5. Fechmup

    Fechmup Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2010
    Messages:
    31
    Loc:
    Southeastern DE
    Was the stove recently painted? Is there excessive dust on it?
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    49,581
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Fbelec, do you have two flues in one chimney? If so, are they terminated up top at the same height?
  7. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2005
    Messages:
    1,697
    Loc:
    northern massachusetts
    no i have two separate chimneys about 25 feet apart. i get the smell coming in thru the drafts on a basement window.

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