Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why my Chimney System isn't Performing up to par?
Type of Stove
Different types of wood stoves have different needs as far as draw is concerned. Old-fashioned stoves which were not designed to be as efficient as newer models would generally work well, even with a weaker draw. Newer technology, however, brought on by updated rules from the EPA to produce cleaner burning woodstoves - as well as consumer demand for more efficient use of wood fuel - have brought about the development of units which will burn wood with a high output, while giving a longer burn time and lesser emissions produced.
These units require a stronger draw, as the very features that make the unit burn more efficiently create resistance to the natural pull of the chimney.
Type of Chimney
The type of chimney used can have some bearing on what to look for when draw is not present. The two types of chimneys generally used are masonry (brick) chimneys, and the premanufactured (pipe) chimneys.
The masonry chimneys usually have a "clean out" door at the bottom of the flue. This door would not effect function of older-type stoves, as they do not create the resistance mentioned above. But the newer type stoves do, and what happens (if the door is not kept air-tight) is that the chimney (which will pull from the path of least resistance) can start to pull air through that clean out door, as well as any other air leaks in the flue or the stovepipe. This reduces the amount of air pulled through the stove itself, causing the fire to die when the door to the stove is closed.
The premanufactured kit chimneys in some configurations will have a "clean out Tee," if the chimney is run through the wall and up; the cap at the bottom of this tee should have an airtight seal as well. Another common problem when using a premanufactured chimney concerns the installation: if the chimney is not installed with sufficient height as well as the proper 10/2 Rule (see FAQs), the flue will not generate enough draw to operate the unit.
Modern houses are generally built to hold heat much better than in years past. This is obviously a good thing, as it lowers the cost of heating and cooling; however, the less drafty a structure is, the harder it is for a chimney to pull air from it. This condition is known as "Negative Pressure" - essentially, when a home is under negative pressure, the unit will burn only when the stove door is cracked open.
As there is no resistance to draw, air can be pulled more easily through the opened doorway of the unit, straight up the flue. To correct this problem, attaching an air intake from outside of the structure for the chimney to pull its air through will take house pressure out of play, as the air pressure would be the same coming into the intake as it is going out the chimney.
Location in the Home
Air inside of a house behaves similarly to how it does in a chimney. Warm air rises, and cooler air descends. As this air is warmed and rises, it becomes trapped in the upper portions of the home. This actually causes the air pressure inside the house to be higher close to the roof than it is in the lower parts of the house, especially in the basement, which means that the draw of the chimney has to work harder to pull air out of the mild vacuum that is present in basements. This also means that the higher in the house the stove is located in (upper floors vs basement), draw would be stronger, as the inside air pressure would be slightly higher than the outside pressure.
As mentioned earlier, newer homes are generally much more air-tight, and therefore more apt to need fresh air intake or other considerations.
How is the Stove Being Operated?
Always take the time to consult your stove's owner's manual to learn how to operate your stove. If you continue to have problems, contact your installer or our technical support department.
Creosote Building Rapidly
Creosote is a byproduct of wood combustion that consists mostly of tar. When smoke travels up through a cold chimney (or one with cold air at the top), it solidifies and can create a potentially dangerous (flammable) situation, if left unchecked.
Here are some questions to ask if you're having trouble with creosote build-up:
- What type of chimney is being used? Any type of chimney is susceptible to creosote, so consulting a professional sweep for yearly inspections is a great idea.
- Is the stove being allowed to reach operating temperature? Cooler burns can lead to more creosote.
- Is the chimney built to the right height in relation to the roof? Check 10/2 Rule.
- What kind of fuel is being used? Wet or green wood will cause rapid buildup.
- Does the chimney have cleanout door? If so, be sure it is sealed air-tight when it's closed.
- If using a chimney kit, is there a chase? A chase may be necessary to help keep the chimney pipe warm enough.
- How many elbows are used to get into chimney? Excess elbows and horizontal runs can inhibit good exhaust flow.
- Are you closing the bypass when the stove reaches temperature? This will help many things, including efficiency and creosote prevention.
Fire Goes Out When Damper is Shut
Here are a few questions to ask if you're experiencing problems with the flame going out when you shut your stove's damper:
- Did the stove reach operating temperature? See your owner's manual for burning instructions.
- Does the chimney have enough draw? (Check 10/2 Rule). You may want to consult with a professional installer.
- Has the chimney been cleaned lately? A professional chimney sweep can help, and can give tips for better burning.
- Does the chimney have an ash door? Is it sealed? An air-tight seal in the chimney door (and entire flue system) is important.
- Does the chimney get hot enough for operation? (If it's a pipe chimney without a chase - a chase may need to be installed.)
- Is an outside air source installed? This is one of the most helpful things you can do in an air-tight home.
If you still experience issues, please contact us!
Do I have to Install a Fresh Air Intake on my Stove?
Fresh air intake is mandatory for all Englander pellet stoves to overcome the effects of negative pressure inside the home in which they are installed. Newer homes are particularly prone to this phenomenon due to improved construction technology, but all homes, no matter how drafty they may seem, are affected in this way. Fresh air intake can also be beneficial for wood stoves, for the same reasons as mentioned for pellet stoves.
Since the early 1970's homebuilders have built houses in such a way as to make them more economical to heat and cool with electricity . This is done by making the house more airtight than was practiced in the past, which diminishes loss of heat through drafts and leaks in the home's structure. In addition, a lot of older homes have been renovated to gain efficiency.
This tightly-built construction can cause problems with combustion devices such as woodstoves and pellet stoves - more so with pellet units, as a higher quantity of airflow is required for the unit to burn its fuel effectively. Running a pellet stove using air pulled from inside the structure can lower the air pressure in the home in relation to the air pressure outside the structure, and this is known as "negative pressure."
Negative pressure buildup inside a home reduces the unit's ability to receive the proper volume of air needed to effectively burn the fuel, and drastically reduces the performance of the unit. The size of the structure does not matter in relation to negative pressure. Outside intake air defeats the buildup of negative pressure, as the airflow comes from directly outside, and is then exhausted back outside after combustion.
How do I know if my Stove is Over-Firing?
If a stove is being run too hot it can damage the unit, and this damage would not normally be covered under warranty.
It can also be very dangerous. Indications of over firing include:
- Stove could have warped surfaces on the top or sides.
- Baffle could be badly warped or burned away.
- Painted surfaces of the stove could have an ash white color in effected areas.
- Brick retainers could be warped or burned away.
- Bricks could be worn away or broken.If equipped with a catalyst, it could be badly worn out or broken.
- In extreme cases the stove hull could split, usually where brick retainers are welded in, or around the corners of the doors.
- Flue pipe would usually have a red glow while in operation, from too much heat.
If you suspect your unit has been over-fired, please contact the Tech Support Team.
Why has the paint turned white and how do I re-paint my heater?
As a result of the high temperatures reached on the surface of any wood heater, most types of high temperature paint will tend to discolor over time. However, if your paint has completely turned white in some areas shortly after you purchased your heater, it is a sign that it may have overheated. Many things can cause a unit to overheat. Here is a brief list:
-The air intake control has been left fully open and flue temperatures have reached excessive levels for a long period of time;
-The chimney draft is excessive;
-The door was left ajar for a long period with a fire going;
-The door gasket is worn out;
-The firebricks have been damaged or disintegrated and have not been replaced;
-Pressure treated wood or other bi-products of wood were used as fuel;
-An excessive quantity of manufactured logs were used in the heater.
It is important to identify why the heater has overheated. Otherwise, it may wear out prematurely. Make sure you use a chimney thermometer and keep flue temperatures within the comfort zone of 250 °F to 475 °F when the heater is operated in the slow combustion mode. It is okay to reach temperatures between 500 °F and 900 °F upon the start-up of the heater. The paint is tested to resist peak temperatures (non-continuous) of up to 1,200 °F.
You can paint your heater and make it look brand new. If the paint has not peeled off, you need to prepare the surface with a 180 grit sand paper. Then, repaint the heater with the original high temperature aerosol paint for a more resistant and uniform finish. If the paint has peeled off, you need to prepare the surface with a 180 grit sand paper and remove all the paint until you reach the steel.
My stove smokes when loading
Here are a few things to look at if you're getting 'smoke-back' when opening your stove door:
- Is the stove being filled with wood and run for a "long burn" cycle?
- Did you open the bypass damper before opening the door?
- Did you crack the door to allow the smoke to pull into the chimney? And give it a few minutes before opening?
If these are all 'Yes' answers, check your installation. Consult the Installation section of your stove's owner's manual.
Where do I find the Model Number, Serial Number and Manufacture Date of my unit?
It's pretty hard to miss the metal data tag, since it's fairly large, but here's a general guide as to where it is on most models:
(Looking from the FRONT of the stove)
Wood Stoves - the tag is located on the side, usually bottom left, or the rear of the unit.
Pellet Stoves - the tag is located on the side, usually bottom left, or inside the hopper lid.
How do I determine the proper chimney height above the roof?
Measure from the side of the chimney horizontally. As you move up the chimney, the length of the measurement increases. Once this measurement reaches 10 ft. this height on the chimney is your base height. The chimney must be 3 ft. taller than the base height. If the chimney is closer than 10 ft. from the peak of the roof, the chimney must be 3 ft. higher than the peak of the roof. The 3 ft. above the base height does not include the cap.
Most problems with wood stoves are caused by improper hookup or operation. The biggest problems concern not getting enough air through the stove or simply not getting catalytic stoves up to proper operating temperatures.
A properly installed chimney is key to having proper draw. This is especially important with use of a kit chimney, most masonry chimneys are built by contractors who are familiar with the rules of chimney installation, however, most kit chimneys are installed by the customer, or a general contractor who may not know how to set a proper chimney height in relation to the structure. Kit chimneys also can be affected by outside temperature more so than a masonry chimney, so installation of a "chase" (a structure built around a kit chimney that is insulated) may be needed in extreme cold climates.
A newer house, or a house that has been reinsulated, had siding, or insulated windows installed could cause difficulties as well. A chimney must pull a certain amount of air out of a structure in order to provide sufficient combustion air into the stove. In order for the chimney to remove air from the structure, ample "make up air" must be allowed into the structure to compensate for a "tight house". A structure that is well insulated and sealed may not allow this airflow to happen. A basement installation can have similar effect as the basement will always have a slightly lower air pressure than the upper floors of the house due to "stack effect" this is caused by warmer air rising inside the structure much as it does in a chimney, as the air is bottled up in the top of the house it is leaving the lower areas of the structure, air usually does not leak into a basement freely enough to compensate. Installation of an outside air source should correct this. The outside air intake should be run in as short and direct a route as possible, and should be installed with pipe no smaller than the opening on the stove.
Most masonry chimneys and kit chimneys have a port or door which makes cleaning of the flue easier. These clean out doors should be sealed as air tight as possible when using the stove, the reason for this is that in order to pull air through the stove, a chimney should not have any other openings where air could be pulled into the flue other than through the stove, if air is being pulled into the flue for anywhere other than through the stove, the amount of available air for the fire is being reduced causing a bad burn, and more importantly, the air being pulled in through the leak is much colder than the air moving through the stove, this will cause a cooling effect in the chimney and will allow creosote to build up more rapidly in the flue.
Most importantly, the flue size must be at least the same diameter as the exhaust opening on the stove, it can be bigger, but it cannot be smaller.