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

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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

Wind
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.

12 thoughts on “Why is smoke blowing down my chimney or out of my woodburner?

  1. I love your blogs ! Thanks so much . You have sorted some of my problems and those of my family and friends.
    Great work much appreciated !

  2. Does a wood burner insert with a door solve the problem of smoke blowing back? My open fire blows smoke every time the wind blows from the north. We’ve tried every cowl on the market and have also extended the chimney – all to no avail.
    thank you

    • Hi Anna

      It will solve the problem to a degree, but smoke can still get through the vents and the open door when you’re refuelling.

      Given that you’ve already tried a cowl, the other option would be to increase the level of ventilation in your home (to encourage air to be pulled up the chimney rather than down).

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

  3. Just bought my first multi stove burner. A trinity 3. It’s in a newly built sunroom ( was only lit for the first time this evening.) did take a while to get it right though. My question is this, after lighting the burner there seemed to be a lot of fumes and I think gass build up in the room. I had to open windows and the door to try and clear it. I closed them again as the room was getting cold shortly after. The smell of the fumes did linger and wasn’t particularly pleasent. What did I do wrong? Also the glass in parts went black. Was that due to the wood and coal to close to the glass or some other reason?

  4. So that thing at the top off the page I need I used smoke pelllets is no smoke coming out. I havnt lite it for a wile you can still get the smell of burnt wood

  5. My next door neighbour got smoke from our multi fuel stove in his house. We are a terraced property and his chimney breast backs onto mine . Is smoke from my stove , as it leaves my chimney getting blown back down his chimney. This has never happened before and is wind direction a reason or maybe the cowl on the top of my chimney

    • Hi Steve

      Yes, that’s possible. Or if you’re not using a flue liner, the smoke could be getting through the brickwork.

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

  6. i have a monor cornwall burner .after taking out the baffle plate to clean it and returning it in ihave asmoke build up and very low draw on the fire

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