Firing up the wood burning stove
There are lots of techniques for starting fires and like barbeques I'm sure you will find a dozen men who know the right way to do it with a dozen different opinions. However you light your fires one thing is for sure...start with decent wood! Preparation is key. We bought ours a bit later in the year as we hadn't moved to the country let alone started thinking about wood. We were also limited to what was available so late in the season but we were lucky that we got 6 cubic meters of oak to keep us warm. Our wood in total cost around 180 BGN (about 90 Euros) which isn’t bad for a whole winter heating bill. With properly seasoned wood and kindling you should be able to get a fire going in no time.
If it's a newly installed wood burner there are a few things to check. First, it's worth having a run through the house with a small fire burning in the stove to see that the smoke is going the right way and not coming out of anywhere unexpected. This may be taken as a given, but it can't hurt to check that the spare room isn't filling with smoke as you gaze into the fire. Also check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working. Just imagine hearing "oh no! The rug just caught fire!” Make sure you're prepared for these things as its better to think about it now than to be telling the insurance company about the lovely stuff you used to have.
A lot of people are a bit shocked the first time they make a fire that some smoke seems to go the wrong way! Assuming you have cleaned your chimney, a common cause of smoke coming into the house from a wood burning stove is that the hot air pressure pushing the smoke out of the house is not as strong as the cold air pressure in the chimney pushing down. One suggestion on how to help things move in the right direction is to open a window in the room with the stove alight which will encourage a draught through the room and up the chimney. This may not seem appealing if it's cold outside (which it is no doubt otherwise you wouldn't be lighting a fire) but it is better than a room full of smoke. Getting the fire hot fast with as little smoldering as possible will help push the air up so it's worth burning some smaller wood and kindling to get things roaring before you get the big guys burning.
Another common question is "why is the top of my wood burning stove smoking?" If it's a new wood burning stove then usually this is fairly innocent, just the paint and oil on the outside of the burner "curing" which basically means burning off a bit. This may happen the first 3-6 times you get the stove on but if it keeps happening then you may need to talk to the people you bought the burner from as something isn’t right! If you have an old stove that seems to be giving off smoke then you may have a problem with some of the welds failing (this can happen to old stoves which get too hot) or the door seal/glass seal may have issues. It's worth looking at repairing the stove but when you have a look at the price for parts, don't forget that there are new wood burning stoves which may be more efficient and fairly inexpensive.
When we got the stove going for the first time we had a lot of smoke for about 5 minutes coming from the top of the stove and that was it so I guess we were lucky!
Another thing we forgot in our haste to get the fire on was good set of fire place accessories (poker, ash shovel etc.) which are another must as you don't want to be prodding around in your fireplace with a bit of wood. If like us you have a baby who is just starting to crawl and/or two nosey (and stupid) dogs, you need to put a guard around your wood burning stove to make sure no one gets hurt.
Good luck with your new heating!!
|Last Updated on Sunday, 18 October 2009 23:35|