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smokey multi-fuel stove - cold flue?

(9 Posts)
thetigerwhocametoteax Mon 26-Nov-12 15:28:49

Feeling ridiculously stressed about this and wondered whether anyone else has any similar issues and advise or ideas. Sorry long post!

We've just moved to an old cottage in a rural area, off mains gas. We have an oil fired central heating boiler that seems to be drinking oil but have two multi-fuel stoves that we were hoping to use a lot. We had the chimney stacks checked on the survey and they are fine, chimney been swept and clean. Yesterday I lit the fire (kindling then coal) and it seemed to be smoking into the room a lot - rang the local stove place and they said the chimneys probably cold wait and let it heat up it should improve and it did but still a bit smokey. Today lit the fire again and smoke bellowing out. The whole room full of smoke for ages, everything is sooty and filthy - I have been cleaning for hours....

The lovely local sweep who I rang in a flap popped in as passing, there are no blockages etc - he thinks we may have problems with a "cold flue", the cold air is pushing the air down the chimney into the room. He said maybe get a cowl for the chimney to stop rain getting down and consider lining it (probably about £1500 - we just don't have this) - but neither would necessarily cure the problem. He thinks burning wood would be worst than coal as it doesn't burn as hot. I have a baby who was in hospital with bronchiolitis last week (viral - before we used the stove so not related) and I am so worried about all this smoke! Think we will be having lots of electric heaters everywhere.....Anyone had any similar issues?

MrsMiniversCharlady Mon 26-Nov-12 19:50:48

Where is the smoke actually coming from though? We have two stoves and with the doors shut there is nowhere for smoke to get out...

thetigerwhocametoteax Mon 26-Nov-12 20:52:35

From the top air vents mostly. With all the air vents closed it was seeping out from around the edges of the door. The catch on the door isn't brilliant so you don't get a really good seal but it should be good enough....

discrete Mon 26-Nov-12 20:56:31

I think you should change the seals. We get this on the stove when the seals need changing.

Do you know whether it has ever worked well?

MrsMiniversCharlady Tue 27-Nov-12 10:52:40

It sounds as though the chimney's not drawing properly and/or the door seals need replacing. Google 'chimney cold not drawing' and there's some information on there - basically you need to start the fire really, really slowly to let the chimney warm up so it will draw better. May also be worth trying a special cowl on the top which helps prevent down drafts.

Electric heaters are really expensive btw, worse than oil (unless your boiler is very inefficient). Can you look into extra insulation. We spent about 500 pounds on heating/hot water with oil fired CH and a wood burner last year, so not massively expensive.

BlissfullyIgnorant Tue 27-Nov-12 10:58:28

MrsMiniversCharlady, how big is your house? How old is your house? £500 seems incredibly inexpensive for heating and hot water for a year!

MrsMiniversCharlady Tue 27-Nov-12 11:01:25

4 bed semi. Old part is about 100 years, new part modern. It is very well insulated, we turn radiators on and off as needed and we are mostly out at work all day. Evenings/weekends though we sit basking in 25C heat from the wood burner smile

specialsubject Tue 27-Nov-12 12:13:17

£1500 for a chimney cowl to be fitted? I got a logburner and the cowl fitted for a third of that, by a proper HETAS chap.

I concur that the seals on the burner need replacing. There should be no smoke at all coming out with the door shut. Not an expensive fix and needs doing ASAP. I don't know why the smoke is coming out of the vents but that really cannot be right.

FWIW, here is what I've learnt with burning wood:
- keep a couple of days supply stacked by the fire so it is really dry when you burn it; this has really reduced smoke levels and also the mess on the glass.
- light with lots of newspaper, kindling and a firelighter. Get it really going to get the chimney drawing, and then add smaller bits of wood. When you open the door, do so just a crack first so that smoke goes up, not out. If the room has an external door, playing with that may also create an updraught.
- if the fire is going too low, more newspaper to get big flames and an updraught revives it.

would be very interested in the solution, which I hope you find quickly.

thetigerwhocametoteax Tue 27-Nov-12 15:32:28

Thanks so much all. Yes going to tske the doors to our local stove place to get stove rope replaced and latch tightened, might help. The chimney sweep chap talked about what you suggest mrsminiverscharlady - getting the fire going really slowly etc. Will give that a go. I'd love your heating bill!We filled up with £500 of oil a week ago and I can already see it dropping.... very depressing. We have an old small 5 bed its as well insulated as it can be for an old place ie lots of loft insulation etc but can't do cavity wall. The main issue is I am a sahm with toddler and baby so need heating on a lot of the day. The £1500 was for some fancy flue liner, think we'll go for a cheaper cowl option first and see where that gets us. Going to go round our new neighbours and see how they manage as they all seem to have woodburners around here. Thanks again and any other suggestions welcome!

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