Why is smoke blowing down my chimney or out of my woodburner?


One of the common issues that wood-burning stove owners contact us about is the appearance of smoke in their room after seeping out of their stove.

This might be a regular occurrence in their home or something that has suddenly happened as a one-off. Either way, it is not very pleasant and something that most people are keen to put a stop to as soon as possible.

So, why is smoke blowing down your chimney?

Possible causes of smoke coming from a woodburner

If the smoke is a one-off problem that you have experienced for the first time, it is worth considering: was the wind particularly strong at the time the incident happened? Sometimes gusty weather can blow smoke back down the chimney and out of the appliance. If it hasn’t happened before and the weather is bad, this might be the cause.

Exposed property
Is your property in an exposed location? If your chimney is particularly open to the elements then the cause of the problem might still be the wind. In exposed properties the problem might occur more regularly and in less gusty conditions than in other properties.

If it sounds like those circumstances apply to your property, it is advisable to fit an anti-downdraught cowl to your chimney. This will reduce the opportunities for the wind to blow down the flue. Buy a cowl now.

Poor draw
Smoke can blow into your room if your chimney suffers from a poor draw. In other words, the smoke and flue gases are not being pulled up the chimney with sufficient strength. This becomes a problem if the wind outside is drawn into or over the chimney in a way the prevents the gases from exiting. In that case, they can be forced back down the chimney and may seep out of your woodburner.

If your property is protected by trees or other large structures that would impact on the air flow around your chimney, that could be the cause of a poor draw.

If your chimney has a weak draw, it is worth investigating if there are any blockages that might be contributing to this. For instance, getting your chimney swept is a good starting point. Another solution is to fit a revolving chimney cowl. This cowl rotates on top of the chimney to assist the draw and ‘pull’ the flue gases out of the chimney.

Lack of ventilation
Another reason for a poor draw – and, consequently, smoke coming into your home – is a lack of ventilation. The draw is created by the movement of air from your room into the stove and up the chimney. If your stove is not able to ‘suck in’ enough air, this could result in a weak draw.

Ventilation requirements are dictated in the Building Regulations, so a ventilation problem might indicate that something went amiss during the installation process. Try opening a window slightly to see if the additional ventilation solves the problem.

Have a look at more chimney cowls to see if there is one to solve your woodburner problem.

How to save money at Christmas as a wood-burning stove owner

stove christmas

With lots of extra expense at Christmas, wood-burning stove owners at least know that they won’t be hit with huge fuel bills during the holidays.

In fact, there are some things they can do to ensure that they save even more money on heating costs at Christmas.

Here are a few examples of things you can do to cut your wood-burning stove expenditure for Christmas.

Buy your fuel now

Now as in yesterday. If you buy fuel for your stove, the chances are that the prices will start to creep up as the temperature drops and we get closer to Christmas. It is advisable to buy enough fuel to last through the festive period as early as possible. Bulk-buying in advance will help you to cut your fuel costs.

Buy a stove pipe thermometer

A big cause of unnecessary expense on wood-burning stoves is burning too much fuel by operating the stove at too high a temperature. The easiest way to monitor this is with a stove pipe thermometer. This will cost you less than £15 and will save you that amount of money is no time at all if it alerts you that you that your stove is overfiring. As well as stopping you burning fuel inefficiently, a stove pipe thermometer will also avoid causing damage to the flue pipe, the internal components of the stove and the stove glass, which can happen if the stove is overfired. Get a stove pipe thermometer now.

Only used seasoned wood

Damp wood that is sitting around on petrol station forecourts and similar places is not good for your stove. It is also very inefficient to burn because a lot of the energy created is spent on evaporating water rather than heating the room. You can save money buy only burning wood that has dried, aired and seasoned.

Get a moisture meter

Leading on from the last point, getting a moisture meter is a good way to ensure that the wood you are buying or burning is seasoned. This digital gadget instantly tells you the water content of any piece of wood, so you can pick the fuel that will offer you best value for money. Buy yours now.

Collect your own fuel

’Tis the season of fallen trees, so there is plenty of free wood available around Christmas. Ideally, you will be collecting for next year so that the wood has time to season before you use it. Just remember to make sure you have permission from the landowner is you’re hoping to collect wood from private land.

Get ideas on where to source free wood.

Have you seen the Gr8Fires.co.uk woodburner advert on TV?

Earlier this year, we launched our first ever TV advert. Since then it has been showing across the Sky TV network.

The commercial, which features some of our finest wood-burning stoves as well as a couple of best-selling electric fires, seems to have been getting a very positive reception, certainly based on what people are telling us.

So, if you’ve seen a wood-burning stove advert on Sky 1, Sky Movies, Sky Sports, Sky Living, History, Sky Atlantic, Challenge, Sky Arts, Pick, Lifetime, CI, National Geographic, Pick or Fox, that was probably us! In fact, the advert is embedded as a YouTube video above so you can double-check if it was our ad that you saw.

In case you’ve been trying to track down a stove or electric fire that is featured in the commercial that you like the look of, here are the ‘stars’ of the advert in order of appearance:

How to use airwash on a wood-burning stove


Most modern woodburners incorporate an airwash system. This is when the secondary tair supply – the air vent at the top of the stove – is used to direct a thin layer of air over the inside of the stove glass to prevent soot and dirt from settling.

How to operate airwash

When lighting your stove, both the primary and secondary (airwash) vent should be open. That’s because you want to allow as much oxygen as possible into the stove to help the fuel to start burning. Get more information on how to light your stove.

Once the stove is lit, you will no longer want the vents to be wide open because that will allow too much oxygen in and cause the stove too operate at too high a temperature, potentially causing damage to the internal parts of your woodburner.

Burning wood while using airwash

If you are burning wood, you can close the primary (bottom) vent completely once the stove is lit properly. Wood needs an air supply from above to burn effectively, so the secondary air vent does this.

You should also close the secondary vent from its open position during the lighting position BUT don’t close it completely.

Leaving the secondary vent slightly open will allow the airwash system to function correctly, while also allowing sufficient oxygen to the fuel to keep the fire lit. The warm air that is allowed into the firebox also causes unspent flammable gases to be burned before they escape up the flue pipe.

Burning coals while using airwash

If you are burning smokeless or manufactured coals in a multi-fuel stove, you will need to leave the primary (bottom) vent open slightly in order to burn the fuel effectively. Coals burn best with an air supply from below, so it’s important not to fully close the vent.

Avoiding dirty stove glass

Whether burning wood or coal, if the secondary air vent is closed then the stove glass is likely to cover with soot. You just need to experiment to find the optimum level of air supply to ensure the airwash continues to function while still burning your fuel as efficiently as possible.

Remember, airwash helps to keep your glass clean but some build-up of soot is inevitable.

Finish the cleaning process with a spray of specialist stove glass cleaner.

Wales leading the UK’s wood-burning stove resurgence

Wood burning stove sales locations

Wales is at the heart of the United Kingdom’s wood-burning stove boom, according to one of the country’s leading online retailers of stoves.

Gr8Fires.co.uk has released details of the most popular locations for wood-burning stove sales over the past five years – and Wales features prominently, with three entries in the top 10.

The Swansea and Cardiff postcode areas are both in the top three – second and third, respectively – while north Wales’ Llandudno postcode is fifth on the list.

Gr8Fires.co.uk’s customer support manager Adam Fowler said: “Over the past few years, there has been a huge increase in the popularity of wood-burning stoves and it appears that homeowners in Wales have really embraced that.

“Since we launched in January 2009, we have sold almost 16,000 woodburners and many of those are now installed in properties in Wales.

“It appears the Welsh public has a real affinity with wood-burning stoves and has been buying them in their droves in recent years.

“This might have something to do with the landscape, both in terms of the difficulty of getting mains gas in some areas but also the ready supply of wood throughout Wales.”

Wood-burning stoves sales have grown considerably in recent years, with the opportunity to reduce energy bills and achieve carbon neutral home heating both cited as major reasons for that.

But a good old case of keeping up with the Joneses might also be playing a part.

Adam continued: “Stoves have certainly become a very desirable item, so it is possible that there is a bit of a domino effect.

“When one person buys a woodburner, it is very common for friends, family or neighbours to get one soon afterwards.

“It is possible this is helping to drive wood-burning stove sales across Wales.”

The Top 10 Wood-Burning Stove Sales Locations

1. Peterborough
2. Swansea
3. Cardiff
4. Norwich
5. Llandudno
6. Tonbridge
7. Newcastle upon Tyne
8. Nottingham
9. Sheffield
10. York