How to Improve the Draw of a Wood-Burning Stove to Help It Burn Better

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Wood stoves need oxygen to burn.
Wood stoves need oxygen to burn. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Fire needs fuel and oxygen to burn. A wood-burning stove has plenty of fuel in the form of split logs, but the stove must also draw oxygen in from the outside to burn efficiently. If you have trouble starting a fire in your wood stove or in keeping the fire going -- and your wood is dry -- the problem may be in the way your stove draws. You can take steps to help your wood stove draw more effectively.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper and matches
  • Chimney brushes
  • Chimney cap

Open the damper. The damper on your stove regulates how much oxygen reaches the fire box. Open all the dampers all the way when you first start a fire. Once the fire is burning well, you can adjust the dampers.

Open a window near the stove. A very airtight home may not have enough natural drafts to supply adequate air for the stove to burn at its best. You only need to open the window an inch or so.

Warm the chimney; a warm chimney draws better than a cold one. You can warm your chimney by burning paper or kindling for a few minutes before you start your main fire.

Clean the chimney; a chimney clogged with soot or a bird's nest won't draw. Clean your chimney before the start of every winter. You can do this yourself or hire a professional chimney sweep. Also, keep your stove cleared of ashes, which can build up to the point where they block the damper in some stoves.

Raise the chimney. If your stove chronically fails to draw properly, you may need to increase the height of your chimney. The higher the chimney, the better it draws. According to the University of Missouri Extension, your chimney must be at least 2 feet above any raised part of your roof within 10 feet of the chimney, and at least 3 feet above a flat roof.

Install a chimney cap. If tall trees surround your house, they may create currents that interfere with the ability of your chimney to draw. If this is the case, a chimney cap can help block these currents.

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