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New Member
Mar 22, 2018
Hartford CT Area
I am new to wood burning heat this winter. I had a Fireplace Xtrordinair (Travis) Large Flush mounted wood burning fireplace insert installed in September.

I've had a few issues with it over the winter, first being that the catalytic combuster fell out into the firebox in the middle of a burn of in November.

But the issue that I am having now is smoke or smoke smell coming out from the blower. Most of the time it works fine, but if I leave the blower on high when I go to bed, it sometimes smells of smoke in the living room in the morning, or sometimes I wake up to the fire alarm ringing at 3 in the morning, with or without a smell of smoke. Visible smoke has not been an issue.

Yesterday, I came home from a long day of work to the whole house smelling strongly of smoke. So bad that we opened the doors and ran the attic fan for 10 minutes to try and clear it out, all while it is 35ish degrees out. I had forgotten to turn the fan down to low when I left for work in the morning.

From the times it has happened, I have noticed the following common denominators:
1. The blower is on high
2. The fire is at the end of its burn, as the final coals burn down. Hence while it only happens overnight or while I am gone for the day.

The wood I have been using is mostly seasoned well. Being my first season, I am doing the best I can with what I was able to purchase. Most of it is pretty good, try to set aside splits that appear to need more time to season for next year.

Sorry for the long winded thread, I am just frustrated (and so is my wife) and nervous that there is something wrong with the insert. To my understanding of the design, the blower is supposed to pull air around the box and is not supposed to interact with the air in the firebox. I also would like to be able to go to sleep with the blower on high and not wake up to a smoke alarm.

Has anyone else experienced this? Thank you for your wisdom.
I am going to guess that this is insufficient draft at the end of the burn. The blower on high is cooling the insert down quicker. If this is the case the question is why. It could be the liner is getting plugged (or chimney cap if the cap has a screen). Has this been checked? If not, it should be asap. If it has been checked and it is clear, then the next cause might be draft reversal due to neutral or negative pressure in the fireplace area. Does the insert have an outside air supply? How tall is the chimney?
Thank you begreen.

I was just able to climb up on the roof and inspect the chimney. I do have a cap with a mesh grate but it looks good and clear. I don’t see any clogs of any kind. I have two story cape and the chimney is about 23-24 feet tall from where the insert is. Unfortunately I do not have an outside air supply for the fireplace. It’s something that I wish I had known about before I had the insert installed. That being said, I feel like my house is quite leaky and I would very surprised if it was a pressure issue. I am having an energy audit on the house in a few weeks and that should answer that question for sure.

Poor draft at the end of the fire makes sense to me. My chimney is unfortunately on an exterior wall. Could the heat sink of the masonry aid in cooling the firebox down too quickly?
Could the heat sink of the masonry aid in cooling the firebox down too quickly?
Possible, it sure is not helping. If you can get some insulation behind and alongside of the insert that will help not only keep the insert hotter, but it will also mean the insert delivers more heat into the room. An insulated damper-sealing blockoff plate will also help.

Is the chimney liner insulated? If not, it should be.