Wood Stove Draft Problems

5 Most Common Wood Stove Draft Problems & Solutions (Ultimate Guide)

A wood stove can keep your home warm and cozy on colder days. Yet, you should always be careful if you have a wood stove or a fireplace within your home to protect yourself from the potential danger of keeping the fire indoors.

If your wood stove produces an unusual amount of smoke in your home, chances are your wood stove may have some draft problems that direct the smoke back to your home. Smoke in your home can be harmful to your living environment as it contains contaminants like carbon monoxide. 

Most Common Wood Stove Draft Problems & Solutions
Most Common Wood Stove Draft Problems & Solutions


Hence, it would be best to stay alert whenever you notice that smoke is not appropriately vented outside your home. In this article, you will learn about the draft problems of your wood stove and ways to resolve these problems.

5 Wood Stove Draft Problems (With Solutions)

You may encounter problems with the draft when the smoke from your wood stove does not go up the flue as it is supposed to and backdraft in your house instead. The causes of this can be the cold chimney, wet burning wood, blocked chimney, or negative pressure.

Cold chimney

The natural law is that hot air rises and cold air falls. Therefore, if your chimney is full of cold air, the hot air emitted from your fire will be unable to rise above the chimney and escape your house. As a result, smoke will return to your house until the fully heated chimney releases the trapped hot air.

You may encounter this problem when you notice smoke in your home right after lighting up the fire. Additionally, if your chimney is not much higher compared to the surrounding roof lines or trees, your chimney is also likely to be cold.


In this case, you can extend the height of your chimney. You can also keep the fire burning for a long time to eliminate all the cold air of the chimney and allow your chimney to operate normally and vent out the fire’s smoke.

Improper burning techniques

Your firewood has to be burned correctly and efficiently; otherwise, it will emit unhealthy smoke. To burn your firewood correctly, follow this guideline:

  • Heat your flue gas and let it reach about 700 degrees
  • Fill your firebox with wood
  • Wait around 5-7 minutes
  • Close the door of your fireplace and keep the door close from 6 to 40 hours, depending on the size of your firebox

In this way, your firebox will be adequately heated, making your firewood burn more efficiently.

Wet wood

Wet wood is another usual cause of the smoky fire. Firewood has to be properly seasoned to burn properly in a fireplace. Wood has to be cut, split, and stacked correctly to let air circulate and the sundry out for at least nine months. Only after this process can the moisture and water content of greenwood be reduced to between 15-20%, making firewood suitable for burning.

If not seasoned, your wood is probably wet. When you burn wet wood, your fire cannot burn properly and emit dangerous contaminants like carbon monoxide. Hence, you have to make sure that you use seasoned wood for your fire.


To avoid this problem, you should always check your wood’s quality and dryness before burning it. Dry wood would have the mark of cracking and splitting at the ends. It will not have a woody smell because all the moisture creating this smell has already been dried out. It should look dull and gray and shouldn’t be too heavy because the water contents are already removed. 

Thus, if you hit two pieces of wood against each other, properly seasoned wood would make a hollow and resonant sound.

If you want to be sure about your firewood, you should purchase a wood measure meter and measure the level of water in your wood.

Here is a video that gives you detailed instructions to tell whether your firewood is seasoned:

Negative pressure

This problem arises when the hot air travels through the chimney and has to battle with the air within your chimney to escape and be vented outside.

You may encounter this problem if your home is airtight around the lower floor. This pressure can prevent the hot air from traveling up and escaping. If you have this problem, smoke will re-enter the room whenever you open the door even though the stove has been on for a long time. This can make your living environment unhealthy and unsafe.

To resolve this, you can open a window near the woodstove or the fireplace before you open the door to make up for the air on your lower floor.

Blocked chimney

Your chimney is likely to be blocked, and this problem is common among wood-burning fireplaces. Your chimney might be blocked if the smoke reenters your home from not being able to flow up to the chimney. 

To check the condition of your chimney, you can use a flashlight to check the debris and the blockage inside your chimney. In the case of blockage, you should hire an expert to clean the blockage from your chimney.


How can I improve my chimney draft?

You can improve your chimney draft by increasing the height of the fireplace grate or your fire basket. In this way, the fire will be closer to the chimney, and the chimney flue will get warmer, which removes any existing cold air that puts the smoke back into your house.

Does chimney height affect the draft?

Yes. The higher the chimney, the more likely the temperature difference within the chimney exists. Hence, this possible temperature of the higher chimney can produce draft more easily. Thus, a chimney that is too tall can also create negative pressure and prevent the hot air from escaping.

Read More:

Should You Convert A Wood Fireplace To Electric?


Now you have learned about the wood stove draft problems that cause annoying smoke in your home. Apply this knowledge and the troubleshooting we provide to use your wood stove safely at all times.



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