Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
Hearth and Home Technology (QuadraFire and Harman Stoves)
Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)
Fix your Wood Burning Mistakes
From Forum Member - Robbie-----
I think 99.9% of what happens to cause bad behavior out of my stove is my fault.
I will list some mistakes I made, and what usually happens as a direct result of my mistakes, and some easy fixes for me (thank goodness no mistakes have been really bad).
1. Fire starting: not loading enough kindling to start with, and having to add more, most of the time causing some smoke to come out.
Fix: I load plenty of good dry kindling, and have dry wood ready to add to the kindling after it burns down, usually to a good coal bed before adding splits, this ensures a good draft is in progress when door is opened to add splits..
2. Not heating the pipe enough so draft will be strong before lighting fire. I was in a hurry and did not let my ceramic heater heat the pipe enough. Causing excessive amount of smoke to spill out into my living room after being lit.
Fix: heat pipe well, or get a good draft with fat wood, papers etc.
3. A new mistake I just learned, though actually knew already, did not use my knowledge............the other night it was late, but not late enough to load for an all night burn, I thought I would just load one split and it would hold the coals until bedtime, bad mistake, bed time came and my bed of coals were half what they were one hour before because I let them die down by just adding one split.
Fix: Load it full if its relative late in the evening, you can always top it off with a single if you need to before bed, other wise youll end up with a less than desirable coal bed for your over night burn.
4. Not loading stove soon enough when its colder outside, therefore causing a larger time gap/heat output between your stoves maximum output and the cold air penetration into your home. This is a mistake I made early on, but have since corrected, and it can even be helped by not turning your blower off until you actually get ready to load wood. And dont leave your house door open while you carry wood in, this will suck cold air into your home fast, every little thing you can do to keep the heat flowing in really makes a difference when its cold I have found.
Fix: if its colder outside, have some good pre-selected splits ready to load, visually looking into your stove before hand as it nears time to load so youll know about what youll need. (dont let coals die down, catch them when they are still large and hot, this will ensure a quick start (fast heat) when you load your new splits).
5. Stove "puffing" smoke after loading wood and dampering. Wet or dry wood, it does not seem to matter. The reason for this I have learned are the gases coming from the wood as it is burning needs to be burned, if you Damper and choke your stove, or starve your stove of oxygen, then when it does get enough oxygen, the result will be a mini explosion, a small fireball within your stove is the result. This fireball or mini explosion results in expansion within the stove, which causes the "puff" of smoke to exit your stove..........usually in the weakest place it can find to release pressure (pipe, stove seams etc.).
Fix: After loading your stove with wood, always let it "char" or burn wood for at least 15 minutes, maybe even longer, and do not Damper your stove all the way closed, this will enable your stove to get enough oxygen to burn a little, this will keep gases from biulding up. As a general rule, I always make sure I can see a steady small "flame" somewhere in my stove before I leave it for bed or whatever. If there is a flame, then most likely you will not biuld up any gases because this flame is burning the gases.
6. When laying VERY large splits on hot coals, wood sometimes takes a while to get going (seems almost like unseasoned wood), wood is seasoned well but it may be something really hard like white oak or something and it sometimes simmers for a little while.
Fix: lay a couple or three small 1/2 inch strips of wood under large splits to allow for air circulation and flames to get going under split well. This seems to make a huge difference when I put the big boys on for the night. Just a few thin strips of something will usually make logs flame up in half the time.
Note: When you do this, better be ready to lay the big splits on in a hurry because your strips could flame up pretty quickly.
Note 2: Here's a link to a video on proper wood burning.
and another excellent Canadian presentation on wood burning: