Why isn’t my woodburner giving off much heat?

A woodburner should make a big impact on the warmth and cosiness of your home. If you’re not feeling that impact, and you don’t think your woodburner is giving off enough heat, it can be very frustrating.

So, why isn’t your woodburner giving generating much heat? Let’s look at some possible reasons.

Wrong heat output

This is the worst case scenario, because it’s the reason that can only be remedied by buying a different woodburner. You might feel your woodburner isn’t giving off much heat if the stove doesn’t have a large enough heat output to adequately warm the room in which it’s being used. You can use our stove size calculator to see if this is the case.

A similar situation might arise if you’ve bought a stove with a suitable heat output for the size of the room, but haven’t factored in that the room needs more heat than a typical room of the same size. For instance, perhaps it is particularly draughty, has only single-glazed windows or adjoins a larger space via a doorless entrance.

Perception

This one’s all in the mind. It particularly affects people who are used to an open fire, because woodburners don’t give the same intense heat when you stand next to them. The intense heat of a woodburner fire heats the metal, not you. It is the metal that then heats the room (more efficiently than an open fire).

You can easily check whether your concerns about your woodburner not giving off enough heat are a matter of perception by spending a few minutes in a different room in your home, then returning to the room with the woodburner so you can fairly assess its impact.

Fuel choice

Different woods and smokeless fuels give off different levels of heat. Some burn intensely and quickly, while some give a slower, steadier burn. Hardwoods typically burn more slowly than softwoods. So, softwoods might give a more intense initial heat, but ultimately give off less heat.

And not all stoves are the same, so different fuels will work better with different appliances. It’s just about experimenting to see what works for your woodburner. Here are some tips on woods you might want to try and here are some woods that you shouldn’t burn on a woodburner.

Blocked flue

If your woodburner previously gave off a good amount of heat but now isn’t giving off much heat, it might be that your need to get your chimney swept. The flue is an essential part of the stove system. Your woodburner relies on the pull of air through its vents or air supply, into the firebox and up the flue to keep it burning effectively.

If there’s a build-up of soot or creosote in your flue, this can hinder the efficiency of the stove and reduce the amount of heat that it produces. Get your chimney sweep round (as you should be doing at least once-a-year, and probably twice-a-year if you’re burning wood regularly) and see if your woodburner reverts to the performance level your remember.

The wrong sort of burn

Not all fires are lit equally. There might be flames in your woodburner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s burning in a way that will heat your home efficiently. Examples of ways that you can have a fire without feeling the full effects are:

  • Lighting a little fire in a big woodburner, which will not generate as much heat as it should.
  • Adding too much fuel, which will result in the stove burning too hot and burning through fuel too quickly.
  • Allowing too much air into the woodburner, which will have a similar effect as too much fuel.
  • Allowing too little air into woodburner, which will cause the fire to smoulder and lose unspent fuel straight up the chimney.

There are two easy ways to check your stove is burning efficiently. The most precise is to get a stove pipe thermometer, which will indicate whether your woodburner is operating at its optimum temperature.

The other way is to take a walk outside to look at your flue terminal. If you can see smoke, that means unburnt fuel is going straight up your chimney. There shouldn’t be much more than a slight puff of white or clear smoke. Anything grey or black means that some of the fuel that should be heating your home is being wasted.

Read more about operating your woodburner efficiently.

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