Why is my Log Burner Smoking?

Date: 3 May 2023

The crackle of the flame and the aroma left by burning wood can make a log burner an incredible addition to a living room. Not only do they provide a visual and scent-induced treat, but they help warm the home with an efficient heat source.

Sometimes though, things can go wrong and your glorious wood burning stove fireplace can suddenly be smoking as you light it or filling the room with more smoke than warmth. Luckily, there are a few solutions that can help you rectify these problems with ease. Some of which will need the assistance of a surrey based chimney cleaning service and others where a simple application of some TLC from the homeowner is all that’s needed.

Commonly, you could find, among other reasons, that your log burner is smoking due to:

  • The wrong fuel being used
  • There is a blockage in the chimney
  • There is extremely cold weather prevalent

Of course, other factors may also contribute towards the smoking log burner so in this month’s blog we take a look at what causes it and how you can remedy it.

Why is smoke coming out of my log burner?

There can be many reasons smoke may come out of your log burner and quite commonly they are tied into the way the chimney works. The chimney is the outlet, where the rising hot air created by the fire pushes the smoke into the night. If the chimney cannot create enough of a draft to pull the smoke up and out, it only has one other place to go and that is back out into your room. This is more often than not caused due to blockages, but we are going to dig a little deeper than that and see why else you could find that your log burner is deciding to smoke more than it heats.

What causes my wood burner to smoke?

We have already touched upon how a chimney blockage could certainly cause your wood burner to smoke but some other potential hazards could lead to the same problem.

Perhaps one of the most common reasons a wood burner smokes is that it is burning the wrong fuel.

To get the most efficient burn and minimise the risk of high smoke you will want wood that has 20% or less moisture content. Anything higher and you will see a larger amount of smoke expelled. Any firewood you buy will indicate its moisture level, but should you be sourcing your own wood or not finding any indicators on the packaging, you can always look to see if the wood is darker at the ends, has easy-to-peel bark, less visible green colouring, is relatively light in weight and have splits in the ends.  To ensure the wood is at its best, having it as close to room temperature as possible can help it burn much more efficiently and reduce the amount of smoke you will see.

A blocked chimney

We mentioned this in the earlier paragraphs, and it does tend to be among the most common reasons a wood burner smokes more than it should. Debris could have fallen into it causing a blockage or burning damp wood may have increased the level of tar or creosote building up within it. Regular servicing of the chimney should prevent this.

A Cold Chimney

We have already touched upon how important the chimney is and if you don’t have it sufficiently warm enough before starting a fire you could encounter problems.  A stove relies on the air getting warm enough to create the draft that moves upwards, carrying the smoke up the chimney and outside. If the chimney doesn’t get warm enough, this air moves downwards instead and pushes the smoke back out of your log burner. The best way to fix this is to give your stove a little warm-up. Add some suitable kindling – paper for example – and light it, leaving the stove door open. This should help generate enough warmth for your chimney, but should it become a frequent problem, investigate chimney insulation. You can also leave your stove door slightly open to allow warmer room-temperature air to get inside.

Cold or windy weather

If there is a particularly cold snap present or the weather has been very windy, you may find that more smoke is prevalent in your log burner. The reason? The stronger or colder winds make it hard for the hot air to rise and help pull the smoke up. Instead, you get the cold air pushing it all down and instead, see your room fill with smoke.

This can also lead to chimney damp which would require additional work to rectify. If you invest in a chimney cowl, you can go some way to prevent the wind or cold from causing quite so much disruption.

A poorly started fire

Sometimes, the wood just won’t light, or it does, but it just struggles to get going. When this happens, you can see an increase in the amount of smoke produced. To aid the stove, you can lay some crunched-up paper at the bottom of the stove, then add some kindling, on top of the paper, this will help the air circulate between the wood. The fire should now take hold better and therefore reduce the amount of smoke. Just make sure you light the paper, perhaps once at each end to get the best results.

You haven’t opened your air vents enough

Fire, as we have always been taught, needs three things. A fuel source, air, and heat. Without them, it cannot survive. Therefore, if you do not open the vents to your log burner sufficiently, you are starving the fire of one of its key components. This will then lead to an increased amount of smoke.

Before lighting, open the vents fully and leave like this whilst the fire catches hold of the wood. As it does this, you can add additional logs to help produce more heat. You can then close the vents until the fire is calmly burning through the wood. If the fire is struggling to maintain itself, you can open the vents a little at a time.


How can I stop my log burner from smoking?

The best way to stop your log burner from smoking is to ensure that the chimney is clear, you’re lighting the fire correctly and that you have the correct wood to burn. By following the tips in each section above, you should be able to keep your log-burning stove relatively smoke-free. It is important to realise how important stove maintenance is as the risk of smoke inhalation or a house fire can be severe.

At Ignition Fires, we have a huge selection of incredible wood-burning stoves and wood burning fires that can help warm any room. Our Cranleigh fireplace showroom demonstrates just how wide-ranging our collection is so why not drop in and have a closer look? And if you find one that day, we can organise a Surrey fireplace delivery for you. Better still, we can deliver much further afield if need be! With over 30 years of fireplace experience, our knowledgeable team can help guide you towards the log-burning fire that will complement your home in the best possible way. Contact us today or visit us every week Monday-Saturday.