Woodstove problems: poor performance

Although there are countless different models of wood stoves, there are relatively few basic types of stoves, and the mechanical problems they experience are similar.  Your first step in caring for your stove is to read your owner's manual for specific information on your model of stove. If you don't have a manual, look for a label on the back of your stove that identifies the manufacturer and model, (or snap a photo of it if you can't find any label) and go to your local stove shop. You may be able to purchase a manual. 

Here we will discuss some of the basic categories of problems you might experience, and what to do about them. We will cover:


Poor Stove Performance

Sometimes it seems that the stove just isn't working as well as it used to. If there is no obvious problem, such as smoking, catalyst malfunction, etc., but it just doesn't seem to be doing the job it used to, consider these possibilities:

Worn or missing gaskets

Leaky stoves will often show a marked decrease in performance. See above for a discussion of checking and replacing the gaskets.

Woodstove chimney needs cleaning

If the venting system is getting blocked with soot and creosote, it will make a world of difference in terms of performance and safety. See Checking a Chimney for information on checking and cleaning chimneys.

Poor wood supply

Are you using the same fuel as always, or a new load? If your wood's too green or wet, it might be the culprit.

Changes in the house

Have you recently altered the house, by adding insulation, replacement windows, or new caulking? If you have made the house much less "leaky" recently, you may have a problem of depressurization

Smoke Signals: Have a question about your chimney?