Question: I have just bought a house in which one of the two wood stoves is a top loading type. I am hoping you could give me some tips about proper loading and starting techniques. Is there anything unique in the operation of a top loader that I should be aware of? Thanks for your help Answer: Most top loading stoves have a bypass damper..that is, a damper which should be open whenever the top is, and closed after the stove is going well. The purpose of this damper is to allow a direct path up the chimney so the stove does not smoke during loading. Closing it after loading results in a longer flame path and more heat transfer to the stove. Start it with the damper in the open position (smoke goes direct up the chimney) and leave it in that position until a good fire is established. In temperature weather you may leave the damper open during the entire fire, as this will result in easier drafting and less heat output. <p> Vermont Castings is the most popular current model(s) with top load, although others such as Tremont, Ashley and even Jotul have had some models which work in this fashion.