A customer emailed us this question and I realized that this would be a good time to share with everyone the dynamics involved in keeping woodstoves from smoking in the home.
“Hi, I am interested in purchasing a wood burning stove for my house. My wife is allergic to smoke and wants a stove that does not emit smoke inside the house and is energy efficient and qualifies for the government tax credit.”
I responded with this explanation:
Almost all stoves manufactured since 1990 meet EPA Phase II clean burning standards, which also boosted efficiency. Almost all of these stoves qualify for the Federal Tax Credit currently available thru December 31st.
When it comes to allergies and smoke in the home, that is another subject. There can be no guarantee that any stove will not emit smoke into the room when the door is opened to add firewood. Small amounts of smoke often spill into the room at this time, depending on the strength of the draft in the chimney as well as the patience and care of the person opening the door. If the chimney draft is strong as a result of the chimney venting straight up thru the roof and the chimney is at least 15’ tall or taller, the draft should be adequate to remove all of the smoke if the door opening is handled with diligent care. Before opening a stove door in operation it is important to open the air control to allow the fire to burn briskly for a minute and allow the current smoke from smoldering wood to leave the firebox to further let room air fill the firebox, replacing the smoke. Then when opening the door it is important to first open it just a ½” or so, while the operator watches to see if there is smoke in the firebox and if the draft is pulling room air in quickly thru the firebox. Then, when opening the door, it should be opened slowly so that any remaining smoke is not pulled into the room along with the door.
Here are the critical details summarized.
1. Strong draft in chimney due to vertical pipe with no elbows and 15’ or more in overall height.
2. Patience in opening the firebox by first making sure the smoke in the firebox has been flushed thru by allowing any remaining wood to burn briskly and then opening the door as slowly as necessary to make sure the draft is effectively pulling all remaining smoke up the chimney.
If that sounds like a chimney installation you have or can accomplish and a process you are willing to go thru, then you can avoid ever allowing smoke to enter the home. In cases where the chimney draft is not strong enough to accomplish this or on rare occasions when strong winds are changing pressures in the chimney and the home, this may be more difficult to accomplish.
If this type of strong draft chimney cannot be installed in your home or you find these guidelines too restrictive in the process, a pellet stove could be an alternative solution. A vertical chimney vent would still be advised although horizontal venting is commonly allowed with pellet stoves. Some percentage of vertical pipe in your installation will reduce the possibility of smoke leakage.
If you do have a situation where the chimney can vent vertically 15’ or more and you are willing to go thru this cautious process in fuel loading, then I would suggest some of our most popular wood stoves. Which you can find by clicking here.
I hope this helps you understand what is involved in operating a wood stove without allowing smoke to enter the home.
Direct your questions to me at Bruce@WoodHeatStoves.com for any stove related details and I will be glad to reply. I have owned and operated Wood Heat Stoves & Solar for over 30 years and am glad to share the knowledge accumulated thru our sales and contracting services.