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  1. JaimeStrauss

    JaimeStrauss New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    Gunnison, Colorado
    Hello All,

    We have an Earth Stove that we have been using with no problems for 5 years.

    This is our main source of heat. The it is getting cold here in the mountains with night time lows around 17 degrees. We have been using the stove sparingly because of a recent smoke problem.

    As usual, I start the fire, let it burn hot, load it up, shut it down slowly (two notches on the flue at a time) for the night.... the way I've done it for the last few years.

    This season we've had the worst smoke problem I've ever encountered, ever. After we have had the fire burning slow and steady for a couple of hours, it puffs smoke our of the door! It's only one or two puffs and then stops. Sometimes it puffs again in a few minutes, some times in a couple of hours. If I catch it, opening the flue all the way and slowly shutting it down again will relieve the problem for a little while. I just can't stay up all night adjusting the air.

    If I let the fire rage, there is no problem. If I let it burn during the day at the middle setting, there is minimal smoke. When I shut it down for the night, it there doesn't seem to be a problem until I wake up in the middle of the night to the smoke detector going off and a house full of smoke.....

    The chimney is clean, there is no chimney cap (there hasn't been since we moved in), there are no vent fans running, the stove has a blower that runs, the house is very drafty.

    I have read through the forums searching for answers to my smoke problem. . . I can't seem to find the answer.

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  2. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,766
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Okay - if you have successfully ran this stove for a couple of years, then it starts to act up with smoking, I will assume we have a physical problem. When was the stack swept last? Have you checked for blockage? Do you have a cap on the pipe and is it possible that it might be plugged up. Weird weather (temp inversion)? What does it react like if you open the primary air a bit more? And explain - in detail - the fuel you are using. How long has it been split and stacked?
    JaimeStrauss likes this.
  3. dmmoss51

    dmmoss51 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Messages:
    356
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Search for threads on back puffing....

    Sounds like you're experienced with your stove and fuel supply could be just moving the air too low too fast and maybe your burning wood this year that is not as dry as what you had before.
    JaimeStrauss likes this.
  4. JaimeStrauss

    JaimeStrauss New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    Gunnison, Colorado
    The fuel is a mix of old timber off cuts, antique scraps, split aspen rounds (seasoned) and a handful of small pine. Most of the timbers came from my brother in law. They are old and have been on his property for an unknown amount of time and most likely stored in his workshop. They have been stacked at our house for about a month now. It is dry here with an average humidity around 40%.
    I split most of the aspen as needed. It has been stacked since last fall.

    The chimney was swept last spring. Inversion hasn't set in yet and it hasn't been windy. There is no cap.
    I have not checked for physical blockages.

    If I run the stove wide open (or even 1/2 open), there is no problem. . . Except that I burn through too much wood and there is no way that I will get an over night burn!

    My husband is convinced that the seal is bad on the stove door. He says that the smoke problem must be due to having the fire too hot and warping the firebox.
  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,766
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    In most instances of back puffing it is the exact opposite. Usually it is caused by choking it off too much. What is the reaction if you open the air just 5% more than what you had it set at?

    Have you checked the gasket? If the gasket is in good shape you can do the dollar bill test to confirm the seal.
    JaimeStrauss likes this.
  6. JaimeStrauss

    JaimeStrauss New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    Gunnison, Colorado
    The gasket is about 2 years old - relatively new and in good condition. What's the "Dollar Bill" test?

    I will have to do some experimenting, but it seems that anything lower than 50% open results in puffing. The thing that has me the most puzzled is that it seems to be so sporadic. I can have a fire for a couple of hours with no problem and all of a sudden the living room is full of smoke.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,766
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Dollar bill test is where you open the door of the stove and hold a dollar bill where it will be clamped by the door. Shut door and lock down. Try and slide the dollar bill out. If you feel resistance, you know that the gasket is tight at that point. Test several areas around the door.
    JaimeStrauss likes this.
  8. dmmoss51

    dmmoss51 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Messages:
    356
    Loc:
    Michigan
    I guess the question I have is how fast are you turning the air down past 50% move it in small increments every few minutes and see if you can get it lower. That way you don't have a high blaze and all the sudden take away the air.
  9. dmmoss51

    dmmoss51 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Messages:
    356
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Other silly question but sometimes things can be overlooked especially at the beginning of the year... do you have a damper anyplace in the flue? Is it open??
  10. JaimeStrauss

    JaimeStrauss New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    4
    Loc:
    Gunnison, Colorado
    Not a silly question dmmoss51... All controls/setting have been accounted for.
    So, we've just stoked the fire and got the fire really going.
    The stove's all the way open and I can hear it crackling and no smoke.
    Taking it down 2 notches, there are 8 total.
    No smoke. Crackling has slowed. 2 more notches....
    At the 50% Mark...no smoke.
    20 minutes - Down two more notches...
    All the way shut at 8:17......
    8:34... no smoke.
  11. imaddicted2u

    imaddicted2u New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2013
    Messages:
    14
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    I had a similar problem. When I cleaned the stove pipe I found the holes in the middle of the damper plate were all plugged up. So when I closed it to where I was used to, it would smoke out the door. Might not be the source of your problem but worth checking.
  12. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    3,779
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    Also, are you really sure the stove is really clean? A blockage or partial one on the air intake can induce the puffing thing too - so aside from the chimney side of things, make sure there is nothing slowing things down on the air intake side too.

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