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Will a Wood Stove Smell-up The House???

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by leeave96, Apr 26, 2010.

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  1. leeave96

    leeave96 Minister of Fire

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    OK, so I am trying to convince my Wife that a wood stove is a good idea. I grew-up around wood stoves, my Wife grew-up with a non-smelly heat pump.

    The latest road block on my way to burning wood in the house is that my Wife is afraid that the whole house will smell like wood smoke - everything, clothes, clothes in the closet, funiture, carpet, the dog, etc., and if she ain't happy, nobody is happy!

    Will a nice modern wood stove smell-up the house?

    When we get dressed and go out for dinner, will the waiter say, "You guys smell like wood smoke."

    Thanks!

    Bill

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  2. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    So long as you go ahead and install a stovepipe & chimney on it, and then operate and maintain it properly, a woodstove will add nothing but efficient, satisfying heat and wonderful ambience to your home. No smell (well, maybe just a whiff or two every once in a while when re-loading). If you're burning a woodstove and your house smells like wood smoke, you've got a big problem with your stove. Rick
  3. Stentor

    Stentor Member

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    You might also want to consider a wood pellet stove. There are advantages and disadvantages, but your wife might like the ease and convenience. (Better do some research, though, before jumping in.)
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    With a good stove connected to a good flue system and burning good dry wood, this is not a problem. But the system is no stronger than it's weakest link.

    The best way to not have a stove that spills out smoke is to install a good, tall, interior flue. In general, deeper square fireboxes are normally a bit better at avoiding smoke spillage when refueling. Some stoves have a baffle bypass to further reduce this issue.
  5. REF1

    REF1 Feeling the Heat

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    Deeply consider BeGreen's recommendation about stove design. Take it from someone who has experienced smoke in my house. Didn't make anything smell like smoke, per se, but tremendous dust everywhere. After getting headaches, literally, we changed stoves. No more smoke.
  6. runandjump

    runandjump New Member

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    This was my first winter heating with wood and I am pleased to say that the only time I had wood smell in the house was due to my fault.... i.e. flue damper still closed, opening the door too fast. The rest of the above replies are good advise.
  7. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    My wife and I also had the same worry. As others have said, a properly lined/sized chimney with good wood and you shouldn't have any issues. My house gets no smell from the wood stove and I've asked outsiders just to be sure. Now if I burn a fire in my natural fireplace and it's damp before I can clean the ash out it creates a terrible smell. Needless to say I only had one fire in my fireplace all of last season. I'll be looking for an insert for that room in the future.

    My stove has a bypass as BeGreen mentions in his post. It's a great feature although people are still successful without them. Not a deal breaker when buying a stove but very nice if you can find the stove you like with one.

    Maybe your local stove shop can contact a few of their customers so you can check out their setups. Maybe this will ease your wife's worries. If you were in Michigan I'd tell you to stop on by. Once she learns the warmth of a wood stove she will never go back. :lol:
  8. Dakotas Dad

    Dakotas Dad Minister of Fire

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    1st winter with wood heat..

    A) A few times if I yanked the door open when getting ready to reload, a little smoke spilled out, no big deal.
    B) We don't eat anywhere the waiter might be concerned with a smoke odor. Well except this 100 year old BBQ place in Bardstown, but they think it's a GOOD thing when you have that smell..
    C) We did see a bit more dust in the house, but pretty sure most of it came about during ash removal.
    D) My wife, who is sensitive to such things, says the wood stove was much easier to live with then the fireplace it replaced
  9. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    Before woodstove: Heating with a fireplace - chronic sinus infection & facing sinus surgery because we did not recognize the interior smoke was the cause of the sinus issue.

    After woodstove: Yeah! No more sinus issues! Oh & no smoke smell insdie the house either (Jotul Oslo).

    Installation: Hearth mounted stove, stainless steel insulated liner.

    Shari
  10. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    My wife is a snoopy-sniffer, and she doesn't complain. Only time there is an issue is if I open the stove up during a burn cycle before there are coals only. Just make sure you have a pipe from the stove to the top of the chimney for a good draft, and you will likely have no problems.
  11. precaud

    precaud Minister of Fire

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    I suppose it could be said, some homes might benefit from a little spillage... ;)
  12. Pagey

    Pagey Minister of Fire

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    Burn properly seasoned wood in a properly vented stove and you shouldn't have any problems. Today's EPA certified stoves are all very efficient burners, so the bulk of what would exit the flue is consumed in the stove. As others have indicated, the only time you might have to worry about any smoke in the house is when you open the door to reload. If your draft is weak, then you might get spillage. If that's a big enough concern, consider looking at stoves with a "bypass" feature that allows the smoke to bypass the baffle when reloading (cats stoves have bypasses, and some non-cat stoves, such as Lopi, offer a bypass feature as well).

    I suppose you could get a house and its contents to smell strongly of wood smoke, but I think that would take a combination of an older stove vented into too large a flue while burning cooler, smoldering fires. Maybe with a window open as well.

    Visit a friend or neighbor with a stove, or go see a local dealer during heating season. See if you can detect the overwhelming odor of smoke. If you are unsure about getting a stove, then now is the time to be working on your wood supply anyway. Today's stoves require properly seasoned fuel to operate efficiently. Get your wood ready now, then visit a dealer in late fall/early winter. Then, if you decide to pull the trigger on wood heat, you'll have your fuel.
  13. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I can't really add much to this discussion that hasn't already been stated.

    For the record I have an exterior stainless steel chimney hooked into a Jotul Oslo.

    I suspect the reason many folks associate woodstoves with folks smelling as if they've been hanging out in a BBQ Smoker is due to set-ups with poor drafts. Having a newer stove is great in terms of efficiency, the burn, the "window" to the fire and its clean burning and of course the set up . . . but I honestly feel that when it comes to smoke spilling in the house the main culprit is an improperly drafting stove. Having the right size and type of chimney is important . . . if your chimney isn't tall enough, is too large for the stove or has too many elbows and distance to the chimney (and trust me I've seen some strange set ups in my day -- some with multiple elbows, others with several feet of pipe running from one room to the next before hooking into a chimney) then you are almost guaranteed to have smoke spillage every time you open the stove door.

    Couple this with many folks using unseasoned wood which in turn produces that acrid-smelling creosote in the surrounding air . . . and folks not running their stove properly (i.e. not getting it hot enough so the fire just kind of smolders instead of burning) and you end up with a home -- inside and out -- that reeks of smoke.

    I can tell you that usually there is only twice a year when I may get a bit of smoke spillage -- early Fall and late Spring when the temps outside are very close to the temps inside . . . which means my draft isn't always optimal. Trust me, it's rare, but once in a blue moon I may have to open a window near my stove for a minute or two when lighting up the stove from a cold start to get the flue warmer and establish a draft . . . but that said . . . our nice white ceilings continue to be nice . . . and white.

    So in summary . . . yes . . . there can be a smell . . . but typically it's from folks a) having a bad draft due to the chimney, b) not burning seasoned wood and c) folks not getting their stove hot enough.

    In fairness I should confess that outside I will occasionally catch a whiff of wood smoke, but it's a pleasant aroma, it doesn't suffocate you or smell really bad . . . and to tell the truth inside my house does smell when I have the woodstove going . . . just the other day it smelled like roses . . .. and the week or two before it smelled like evergreens . . . since I use potpourri in my steamer on top of the stove.
  14. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure anyone has mentioned this yet but you need to consider the smell issue when the stove is not in use. We've had stoves in 4 different installations and everyone has produced a smell when the stove is not in use and there is a change in the weather, particularly rainy, damp weather. Air will work its way down your flue and flow back through your stove and out into the house. Cleaning the stove thoroughly will help but not you'd have to have a very clean stove and flue to stop the smell.

    I've considered installing a remotely operated (cable) flue-top damper to address this problem but never tried one. I assume anything you can do to prevent the air from flowing downward through your flue would help even if you do it at the bottom of the flue.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Having been in thousands of homes with many of them using wood heat I can say without question that a house certainly smell like smoke, or worse, like creosote. I'll never forget walking into a neighbor's house one day and even before I entered, as soon as the door was opened I could smell the creosote! That was probably the worst I've been in. I've also been in others who had lots of smoke smell in the house.

    On the other hand, most homes heated with wood do not smell unless someone was careless for a moment but it was a brief thing. Backpuffing also will give you a smoke smell for a little bit but goes away fast.

    Those smells are created from a couple of things which you can control. First and foremost is the fuel. Most folks simply do not know what seasoned wood is; they take it from some wood seller who says it is seasoned and ready to burn, which, in most cases, is false. Or they go out and cut wood and a couple months later try to burn it. Or they cut dead trees thinking there is no need to season that wood. That may or may not be true with dead trees. Most times the butt of the tree still has plenty of moisture but it varies according to the type of tree. Similar is that each tree has its own seasoning properties. One can not say they seasoned their wood 6 month and it burned okay, so any wood should season in 6 months. It just is not true. Some can be burned after 6 months and some can't be burned for about 3 years after it has been cut and split.

    The problem with most new burners is they think the same as they do with oil or gas. When you need heat, you go buy some fuel. One can not do that with wood. Wood needs time to dry properly and it won't dry worth a hoot until it has been cut to firewood length and split, then stacked out where the wind will help dry it.

    The rest depends upon the installation of the stove and a whole lot depends upon the operator. This includes emptying the ashes. One certainly must learn how to handle ashes because there is more to it than just opening the door and shoveling out the ashes. Ashes must be handled extremely careful and easy so as not to create ash dust. Work slowly at that job and never dump ashes; gently slide the ash shovel out from underneath the ashed once you've gently put the shovel to the bottom of the ash container. Handle with kid gloves!


    Bottom line is that you can burn wood without the smoke or creosote smell in the house but one has to learn the proper methods of handling the wood and the stove. Good luck and now you should understand that the first step one should take when making the decision to heat with wood is to get the wood on hand first. Few do it that way though which is sad. Get the wood this year but don't burn until next year.

    Good luck.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    ..the system is no stronger than the weakest link. And quite often that are us.
  17. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    I agree with all the above installation suggestions for and positive comments about the newest wood stoves. My lungs are very sensitive to indoor contaminents and in past winters I have usually suffered different degrees of asthma and other breathing disorders. Not so this year.

    This is my first year burning with the new stove(see signature below) and I can't say enough good things about the health benefits, reduced heating costs, and ambience it has provided during the winter. Probably five or six times this past winter I opened the loading door much too fast and a small whiff of smoke entered the room. This very minor smell was quickly (one or two seconds) dissipated by the overhead ceiling fans. My smoke alarms have never been triggered by smoke from the stove or any other source.

    Based on my personal experiences I would very strongly suggest you consider installing an Outside Air Kit (OAK) if you do install a new stove. See a discussion about OAK's here: http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/hooa.htm and here: http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/hooa3.htm

    Best wishes and good luck. John_M
  18. grommal

    grommal Feeling the Heat

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    I solved this problem by cutting a plug made of 6" thick foam rubber so that it's just larger than the flue opening I want to seal. With my exterior chimney, I have a cleanout door that gives me access to the horizontal pipe section that passes through the thimble. I just jam that plug into the pipe, and no smell coming down the chimney. Also keeps anything else out that gets past the chimney cap, like bees.
  19. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    That won't exactly work for me but it gave me an idea that might. While I've got the top off my stove for flue cleaning I should be able to plug the pipe where it comes in the back of the stove. If I attach a cord to it that hangs inside the stove I should be able to reinstall the stove top and then just pull the cord to remove the plug when the burning season arrives.

    Thanks!
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Like everyone says, if its all installed properly the answer is a definate No.

    Even when we use our 200yr old open fireplace we don't get woodsmoke smell in the house. And my wife is very picky about smells ;)
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