Getting to grips with a wood-burning stove can be a steep learning curve if you’re completely new to them. Here are some of the main pitfalls that catch out new woodburner owners.
Leaving the door open
New woodburner owners often assume they should be able to leave the door open in order to feel intense heat from the flames, just as you would feel from sitting next to an open fire. This is incorrect. The job of the flames of a woodburner is to heat the metal case around it. The metal case heats the rest of the room, including you and any other occupants. Leaving the door open allows too much oxygen into the firebox, which causes your fuel to burn too fast and the stove to overfire. This can cause permanent damage to your stove.
Cutting off the oxygen supply
Another mistake made by rookie stove owners is to cut off the oxygen supply to the stove, causing it to go out. The exception to the rule about closing the door is during lighting, when the stove can be left ajar to help the kindling to catch alight. The door should then be closed, but the air vents need to be kept open sufficiently to allow oxygen in to maintain the fire. Closing the vents completely will extinguish the fire, but leaving them open too far will create the same problems as leaving the door open.
Burning green logs
Green logs are freshly cut wood that has not had the opportunity to dry and season. They have high moisture levels, which means that when they are burnt, a large amount of energy is wasted on evaporating water rather than heating your room. Burning green logs is bad for your bank balance, the environment and your stove. The high moisture content results in a smouldering burn in which flammable gases are released through your chimney without being spent. It also leads to your stove operating at a lower than optimum temperature, which means flue gases cool, condense and turn into tar and creosote in inside your stove system.
Burning the wrong sort of fuel
Different appliances allow for different types of fuel to be burnt. The most obvious example is that wood-burning stove should burn only wood, while multi-fuel stoves can burn other solid fuels. But you should always consult your stove manual to find out precisely what your stove manufacturer advises you can burn.
Something about human nature means many stove owners get an urge to touch their stove to find out just how hot it is. Please take our word for it: it gets very hot. Only touch your stove with the aid of a stove glove if you want to avoid getting a nasty burn.