How to Make a Stovepipe Draw

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Smoke exiting the front of a wood stove is an indication of poor draw. Draw on a stovepipe or chimney is the conduction of smoke from the firebox to the outdoors. Most often there is a simple solution to this problem. By following a troubleshooting list, you can make a stovepipe or chimney draw properly.

  • Clean the chimney flue or stovepipe on a regular basis. Improper combustion temperatures inside the firebox can leave creosote and other residue inside the stovepipe. This residue will interfere with the draw of the chimney.

  • Preheat the chimney during really cold weather. The colder the air, the heavier that air is pushing down inside of the flue. You must push warm air up the chimney to start and maintain a draw.

  • Burn hotter fires once the stove is properly brought up to temperature. Cool burning fires in the combustion box will not keep the chimney warm. Cold chimneys create a cold plug. A cold plug is when an outside flue cools down and can no longer draw. Prepare fires that will heat evenly and stay hot.

  • Open a window to increase the draft for the fire. Fire needs oxygen to burn. Many newer homes are airtight. Crack a window to allow fresh air into the stove. You might need to add an auxiliary air inlet for the stove. Try cutting a hole in the floor below the air intake to the firebox. The area of the hole must match the size of the air inlet. The auxiliary air inlet must allow outside air inside.

  • Check the orientation of the stove piping joints. The male insert must be fitted properly into the female portion of the adjoining pipe sections. A crimped joint that obstructs flow will interfere with the draw. The male joint must be "flowing" upward, in the same direction as the smoke.

  • Correct the chimney height. The exit of the flue to the outside must be at least 3 to 4 feet above the highest portion of the roof. Lower flue heights can create back drafts during windy conditions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Burn only seasoned hardwood with a low moisture content. This will create hotter fires.
  • Use extreme caution with fire starting aids as these "Helpers" can leave residue inside a cool chimney upon initial fire starting.

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