Small log-burner sometimes doesn't want to draw

Discussion in 'General DIY' started by MisterBoy, 15 Nov 2021.

  1. MisterBoy

    MisterBoy

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    I have a cute log-burner installed into an existing fireplace, it's about 30cm wide. Very nice but every now and then it just won't draw when initially lit... smoke rolling out and filling the room. At some point it just starts working and from then everything is great but I don't know what to do while smoke is pouring out! I have the door cracked open initially.

    It's a tall flue, 40-50' I think. Pretty sure there are no blockages. I'm guessing it's some combination of room ventilation, inside/outside temperature, wind, etc that affect it but no idea in which way or what (if anything) I can do.
    Is the old trick of holding a sheet of paper over the fire relevant here? Should I be opening/closing the door, burning some paper to get a quick burst of hot air, etc?

    I started typing this just as the smoke stopped coming out of the stove, by the time I hit send it's now roaring away and I'll need to close the vent. It really is just the first couple of minutes and only every now and then, most days no issues at all.
     
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  3. Lower

    Lower

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    When did you last have the chimney swept? That should be your first port of call.

    We have an open fire and a log burner, both with very tall chimneys. We get the same problem that you describe, where a small initial fire doesn't generate enough heat to move the mass of cold air in the chimney. As soon as the fire establishes itself, the chimney starts to draw and there are no smoke issues from that point onwards.

    I get round it by lighting some paper and holding the burning mass of paper above the fire in the entrance to chimney itself so that the heat from the burning paper can only go up the chimney. Once the paper has all burnt, i immediately light the fire. The burning paper creates enough heat to start some airflow up the chimney and then the fire itself takes over.
     
  4. MisterBoy

    MisterBoy

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    The paper trick sounds good on an open fire but with a log-burner I'm not sure how you might get the same result with the clever recirculating trickery going on?
     
  5. foxhole

    foxhole

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    How are you lighting, We always use firefighters which provide a decent flame immediately.
     
  6. MisterBoy

    MisterBoy

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    firelighter but I do try to be frugal with my kindling so it's not bursting into flame, more a gradual start. Perhaps I should treat this one nicer - the big one we have draws so well I never really thought about it, you can basically shut the door as soon as you light it and it will still light.
     
  7. Mr Chibs

    Mr Chibs

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    I also use pine cones for fire lighting.

    (y)
     
  8. SpecialK

    SpecialK

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    What happens when you open a window in the same room? If the burner feels cold inside chances are its not drawing warm air up the chimney.

    Do you have extractor fans that could stop the chimney drawing air?

    Use something that doesn't smoke to heat the chimney - Candle, blowtorch...hairdryer..
     
  9. MisterBoy

    MisterBoy

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    I did feel a draught coming down when the stove door was open and trying to get it lit.
    I do not have opening windows or fans in this room but as an old house it is not exactly air-tight so I could open/shut the door... which way round is preferable?
     
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  11. Lower

    Lower

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    You just do the same but with the door open.
     
  12. MisterBoy

    MisterBoy

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    That's what I was doing. The smoke just fell out the door :)
     
  13. Lower

    Lower

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    Then something is pulling air down the flue.
     
  14. foxhole

    foxhole

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    I usually cross stack 6-8 bits of kindling then drop lighter down centre and top with a larger couple of timber, this has a blaze going in a few minutes, but a tiny stove with require quite small pieces to start.You need to surround the initial flame with timber not cover it.
     
  15. lostinthelight

    lostinthelight

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    Well talk about teaching old dogs new tricks,. I've been lighting fires of one sort or another for 70 years and heared about this method which I didn't really believe.
    I have 3 multi fuel stoves, two will light with hardly more than a spark but the latest super efficient one with the same type 6" twin wall flue and direct air supply is a real pig with all the issues op has described.
    I've found the shortest vid which shows the method , sorry it's American which some don't like but it worked for me so give it a try !


    Edit: the vids shows an open fire , with a WB the door initially needs to be open a crack for enough air support combustion
     
    Last edited: 16 Nov 2021
  16. SpecialK

    SpecialK

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    It could be a bathroom or kitchen fan causing it. Try a candle in there to warm it up...
     
  17. cwhaley

    cwhaley

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    That could well be your problem. I make a large wigwam of kindling with a firelighter in the middle -- need to get a fire going as quick as possible and that flue needs warming up as quick as possible as it'll be full of cold air sinking downwards.
     
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