Rayburn (not getting hot enough)

14 Nov 2010
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United Kingdom
Hi all. Thanks in advance for taking the time to help.

I have moved into a house with a wood-fired Rayburn in the kitchen, which I think is a Rayburn 212S although it does have the priority damper lever shown here: http://www.rayburn-web.co.uk/raytech/on355.htm

Anyhow, this Rayburn is connected up to the heating so is meant to heat the 5 radiators and towel rail upstairs. The problem we are finding so far is that we can't get the darned thing hot enough. I get it started ok with the spin wheel and chimney damper wide open, add some nice dry logs (gradually), then close the damper 2/3 of the way and turn the spinwheel in a bit, but the thing just idles along without ever getting really hot (circa 100 degrees max) and I've tried playing with the spinwheel and the damper, and even the chimney flue but can't seem to get the thing roaring away.
Because of this, we can't cook in it and the radiators just get a little bit of warm water at the bottom (I have bled them all).

Any thoughts what I am doing wrong?

Thanks in advance again!

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Just a few general items about these things (I look after 3 or 4 similar ones by Stanley)......
The chimney should be swept twice a year, if you run the unit with the dampers down.
Try a smoke pellet in the firebox - the smoke should escape up the chimney at speed,and not seep out from anywhere, even if access doors are open.
Lots of ash collects at the top of the unit, just below the flue exit and this restricts passage of gases.
A lever is often used to direct the hot gases underneath the oven - check that this part is actually moving and the passageways are clear.
Don't trust wheel dampers - especially the 'automatic' type - its best to leave the ash door open a bit.
Finally - there's nowhere near the calorific value in wood compared with that of gas or oil, so you could be expecting a bit much......
Anyway, I hope this helps you!
John :)
Hi John. Thanks for the reply.

The chimney smokes away pretty well so that doesn't seem to be the problem luckily. When you refer to the lever to direct the hot gases under the oven, how do I get to this to check it (apologies but i am an ultra-novice!!).

It is strange overall as it burns, and I can control the burning a bit using the various dampers/wheels etc, but it just never seems to get beyond second gear and really start heating up. I appreciate that wood isn't going to give me the heat of anthracite etc but this really isn't getting properly hot at all....
If a Rayburn would heat 5 rads on wood - you wouldn`t see Sussex from the air for smoke :eek: It would be like our industrial past , where Ashdown Forest and others was stripped by the ironfounders. . Aint gonna happen , M8. :cry: . I suppose I should abide by the beuaracrats rules and advise you to get a Hetas registered bod to look @ it for you . But if youre in East Sx. and want a country boy to cast an eye over it , send me a Msg. email`s in profile. ;)
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I appreciate that wood isn't going to give me the heat of anthracite etc but this really isn't getting properly hot at all....

It might be worse than that OP- the best, driest hardwood will only give half the CV of anthracite.
The OP has not told us something that may be quite relevant, what kind of wood is it?

Different types seem to have different burn rates.

This is a very good comparison table:-


Does anyone want to buy about 2-3 tons of oak? But you have to come and cut it up.

I get that wood burners aren't going to get the same heat as anthracite but they are designed to work, even if only just as an oven but I can't even get that hot, let alone heat the whole house.
It is as if I am stuck in second gear, with wood burning but not really getting hot hot...so I need to find out why (either human error or machine error) it isn't getting to the next stage.
Tony, have you got a spare oak tree chopped down then?
we have been using a rayburn for about a year now,only burn wood in it,it heats a cylinder and 3 rads,we can get the oven upto 600f,we find it best to get fire going well and close the air vent,and close the damper down,even with the damper in closed position there is still enough room past the slide to allow smoke up the chimney,this seems to allow more of the heat to be transfered to the oven and water tank
Hi Damian

So you push the damper all the way in, and do up the spinwheel and find that it gets hot that way? In the same vein, would you open the spinwheel to cool it down or does that supply more air which helps it get hotter?
How do you work it with the logs? Small ones and then big ones?


Plenty of air is good for getting the fire started but once established too much air passing through the fire just carries the heat away and up the chimney while burning your logs really fast.
As mentioned, once well alight regulate the spinner and damper to allow air for combustion.
Also the logs need to be well seasoned with moisture content below 20%. That means cut and stored for 2-3 years before burning or you will never get much heat out of them. Heat output can be reduced dramatically if logs are damp. If you are unsure a wood moisture meter is fairly cheap to buy online or buy a couple of bags of kiln dried logs to see the difference. Stix.
Thanks Stix. I think we've got pretty dry wood but may try some kiln dried ones to see if that makes a difference. I guess they'll cost top dollar?

So by 'regulate' do you mean pretty much shut off the air flow through the spinwheel and close up the chimney damper?

Has anyone had any experience with the chimney flue damper (like an extra damper a few inches above the chimney damper?
yes andy,we do not open the wheel at all,and use the damper on the flue to control hotplate temp,the more you open it the hotter the hotplate,putting this stove in has reduced our gas bill from around£80 per month to less than £10,we have an open plan kitchen and the heat rises from the stove to heat most of the house hence the need for only three rads turned on,also found leaving an inch or two of ash in makes the stove heat up better,you will need a good supply of wood i get most of mine from local joiners hth
I do not agree with the comments written about wood being poor at heating a house or the fact that that excessive smoke will be produced to create the desired heat.
I have heated my cottage with only a woodburner for the last 7 years and I can tell you that dry wood is a fantastic heat source and also that a good hot wood fire will produce very little smoke which unlike coal, oil or gas is carbon neutral.

The secret behind getting your Rayburn hot is to establish a good hot heart in your fire and then close the whole thing up to keep all that lovely heat in the Rayburn. I have just had a second hand Rayburn fitted in my new kitchen and this powers 5 rads on wood only. They get so hot that you can not touch them and the hot water is also fantastic!

If the rads are not getting hot you should perhaps fit a Grund Fos pump to pump the water around. Speak to you local Heatas plumber like I did. You will not regret it!

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