A Guide: How to Properly Operate a Mini Wood Stove
May 31 2018
To use the stove properly and efficiently you must first understand some core principals. Once understood then it will make it much easier to operate the stove, and to troubleshoot problems if they do occur.
Is a Proper Draft being created inside your Flue Pipe?
The primary concept to understand is the draft. Draft gets created in the pipe. This is caused by the upward motion of hot air, pulling the air behind it into the stove allowing it function. Without the pipe the stove would just be a metal box with a fire inside. To create a proper draft the use of a double wall flue pipe is essential. The double wall construction does not let the gases cool too much, which will maintain proper draft. Otherwise a single wall pipe will cool the gases and equalize the temperatures which will reduce the upward pull of the hot air. Also if you have extensive amount of pipe outside, this can also slow the draft. The colder outside temperature will cool the pipe quicker than the pipe found inside. So if you have more than 2 feet of pipe it is a good idea to insulate the pipe. And this will reduce the cooling of the exterior portion. So the idea is to have a hot flue pipe and this will ensure that the draft is properly created. If this is followed and you are experiencing issues then it could be something other than the pipe.
What is the status of the air? Is it being replaced?
It could be the replacement air to the stove. When the stove is in use it is expelling air from inside the space. This air needs to be replaced, typically through a window that would be opened slightly. Side note ** We have a wall mount with a fresh air intake that will allow for this replacement to come in without opening a window ** If there is no way for air to come in then it will slow the air able to go into the stove and up the pipe which will reduce the performance of the stove greatly and is not safe for the occupants. So you need to have an intake of air at all times when the stove is in use otherwise the stove will not be efficient. A good example of this is when pouring liquid out a container. When you pour something you will see the liquid come out and air goes back in, this air going in is to replace the volume lost by the liquid leaving the container. So it will “glug”. But if you puncture a hole in the container, the pouring of the liquid will not “glug”. It will pour smoothly because the air is being replaced in the container at the exact same time as the liquid leaving the container. The idea with wood stoves and replacement is the same.
How to handle Backdraft?
Backdraft is another thing to take note of. If smoke comes back into the space this can be caused by a few things. One could be that the pipe is too clogged and it is not allowing for proper evacuation of the gasses. Which in that case the pipe needs to be cleaned. The other could be the location of the air intake. The air intake should be upwind so that the air gets blown into the space and goes into the stove and out the pipe instead of down the pipe, into the space and out the window. Another cause could be that the cap is not above the highest point of the roof. If it not above the peak by one foot, the cap may rest in an area where the air does not pass across it, and this would prevent the exit of the fumes, which will return into the space. The last thing could be a fan that is sucking air out. This would also pull the smoke out the stove and pipe and pull it inside the space.
Is your stove properly lit?
How the stove is lit is also important for efficient use of the stove. If the stove is improperly started it will take a while for the stove to get going. We touched upon this is past blog posts, check them out to see exactly how to start the stove and this will also improve functionality.
What type of wood are you using?
The wood that is used is also very important. We touched upon this in a previous blog as well. The proper wood will greatly change how the stove works. If the wood is too “green” and not dry enough it will not work like it should. Well-seasoned hard woods burn hotter and longer than soft woods, and this hot burn allows for better draft. It also allows for a cleaner burn as well as hard woods have much less resin, sap and oils that can clog the pipe quicker compared to hardwoods.
With a mini wood stove, the smallest detail can set the whole system awry. So the more you know about how it works the better you can diagnose issues and solve them. And if ever you cannot resolve it yourself you can always ask us and we would be glad to help.