7 Reasons Why Your Wood Stove Isn’t Drawing (And How To Increase It) (2024)

A wood burning stove needs sufficient drawto ensure continuous airflow through the stove in order for the fire to keepburning through the wood.

A wood burning stove that isn’t drawing canlead to a fire that won’t catch alight, won’t stay alight, won’t burn the woodproperly or keeps smoking.

We’ve had issues with our wood stove notdrawing over the years and so I’ve put together this guide on the reasons whyyour wood stove may not be drafting properly.

Themain reasons why your wood stove does not draw can include:

  • The stove or flue is too cold.
  • The flue or chimney is dirty.
  • The room or house is too airtight.
  • The air vents aren’t open enough.
  • The damper is closed, or closed by too much.
  • The wood is too wet.
  • The weather is too windy or warm.

There are also a number of things you cando to help with the draw on your stove, without the need to change anythingstructural in your home.

Themain ways to increase draft in a wood stove include:

  • Have your flue or chimney cleaned at least once per year, or everyseason if you’re regularly burning wood.
  • Leave the door to the stove open for a while before lighting a fire.
  • Warm flue with a heat source before starting a fire.
  • Leave the air vents wide open when starting a fire, and close themdown as the fire progresses without causing the fire to smolder or go out.
  • Open the stove damper before lighting a fire, and leave open for theduration of the fire unless required to close it down.
  • Ensure to burn only dry wood.
  • Open a window or air vent near the stove.
  • Don’t use your stove in very windy weather conditions.

I’ve explained the main reasons why yourwood burning stove or chimney isn’t drawing in more detail below, and alsogiven solutions to each.

Why Does My WoodStove Not Draw?

The Stove Or Flue Is Too Cold

If your flue or stove is too cold, or the same temperature as the airoutside, it can affect how well the stove is drawing.

A draft works by colder air sucking warmerair towards it. As such, warmer air within your stove or flue will naturallyrise up the flue, while also sucking fresh air into your stove from your hometo replace the lost air.

If you’re struggling to light a fire inyour wood burning stove or keep it going you can help to warm up the flue priorto lighting a fire in your stove. We like to leave the door to our stove open for a while before starting a fireto help bring the stove and flue nearer to room temperature.

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If your flue is still cold you can use a heat source to help bring thetemperature up and start the draft on the stove.

We use a rolled up piece of newspaperthat’s lit at one end to help warm up the flue in our own wood stove.

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If you can see smoke from the newspaperrising up the flue then there’s probably sufficient draw on your stove to beable to light a fire.

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For my complete guide to warming up the flue of your wood burning stove, click here.

The Flue Is Dirty

A fluethat is dirty or blocked can be a reason why your wood burning stove isn’tdrawing.

The flue needs to be sufficiently sized inwidth and length to be able to provide the required draft on the stove. A fluethat is dirty or blocked can result in a reduction of the diameter of the flue,and therefore the ability for it to suck air out of your stove.

Therefore, ensure that to get your flue swept if it hasn’t been cleaned within thelast 12 months.

It’s recommended that a chimney or flue isswept at least once per year, ideally before your burning season. If youregularly or continuously burn wood inside your stove then you should have itswept every season to ensure that your stove is operating efficiently.

To help keep your stove and flue clean, be sure to only burn dry wood that is low inmoisture content. Wet wood can release more tar (creosote) in a firebecause it will be burning inefficiently as the fire tries to burn off theexcess moisture content.

Be sure not to close any air vents on the stove down by too much, as a lackof oxygen can also lead to an inefficiently burning fire.

A poorly burning fire (one that issmoldering) due to lack of oxygen or wood that is too wet is likely to producemore smoke and tar, and can result in you needing to have your flue cleaned moreoften because your wood stove isn’t drawing.

You can find out more about how often your flue needs cleaning and why in another article here.

The Room Is Too Air Tight

A wood burning stove that isn’t drawingproperly can be due to a room or homethat is too air tight.

Air that’s lost up the flue needs to be replacedfrom the air within your home through the stove’s air vents. If your home istoo airtight, then a vacuum can be created and your wood stove may not be ableto draw properly.

For more modern homes that are built tohigher standards, it’s common to see a vent installed along with a wood stoveto ensure that it has a consistent supply of fresh air for the fire.

If your room has an air vent, open it before starting a fire in your wood burning stoveto ensure that there will be enough air circulation for the duration of thefire.

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To help with airflow, you should also leave any doors to the rest of your homeopen while having a fire. If your wood stove still isn’t drawing properly,try cracking open a window near yourwood stove, or turn of any external ventilation extractor fans within yourhome that may be sucking air out.

The Air Vents Aren’t Open Enough

When the door to your wood burning stove isclosed, air can only get to the fire through the stove’s air vents. If the airvents aren’t open enough, it can restrict the draft on the fire, and thereforehow efficiently the fire is burning.

Fully closed air vents will cause the fireto go out. Leaving the air vents wide open will allow maximum airflow into thestove and lead to the fire rapidly burning through the wood with large sizedflames.

To help a stove burn wood more efficiently,the air vents on the stove should be closed down to a point where the fire isburning through the wood a steady pace, without causing the fire to struggleand smolder.

Air vents that are too far closed can causethe same effect as a blocked flue, where the wood stove isn’t drawing properly.

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Therefore, ensure that the air vents on your stove aren’t closed by so muchthat it’s causing the fire to burn the wood ineffectively.

The Damper Is Closed

If your wood burning stove has a damper (typically located in thestovepipe just above the stove) that isclosed or closed by too much, it can prevent your stove from drawingproperly.

Dampers can be used to reduce the amount ofheat being lost up the flue, and can generally be found on older models of woodstove. A damper can be closed when the stove isn’t in use to help with heatloss from a home, but needs to be fully open prior to starting a fire.

Therefore, if your wood stove isn’tdrawing, ensure that the damper is wideopen before lighting a fire in your stove, and ensure that it isn’t closed down by too much during a fire.

You can find out more about dampers, where they are located and how to use them in our complete guide to dampers here.

The Wood Is Too Wet

Wet wood is a common cause of many issuesassociated with a wood burning stove. Wood that isn’t dry enough is harder toburn, and so can prevent a fire from catching and getting going.

Heat from the initial fire after lightinghelps to start the draft on the stove, and to ensure that the remainder of thefire is more successful. If wet wood ispreventing a fire from catching then it can prevent your wood stove fromproperly drawing.

Wood should be around 20% moisture content,and using a moisture meter will help you determine it’s actual moisturecontent.

Windy Or Warmer Weather

Using your wood burning stove in windy weather can cause a backdraftwhere the wind forces the air back down your flue. If you’re finding that yourwood stove is struggling in windy weather then the only real solution is towait for until the winds have subsided.

Warmerweather can also affect how well your wood stove isdrawing. There needs to be sufficient pressure difference between your stoveand the outside air for your stove to draw well.

Other Reasons

If you aren’t able to improve the draw onyour wood stove using the above methods then there may be issues regarding thesize of your flue and chimney.

In general, the taller your chimney, the betterthe draft that can be provided on your stove. A chimney also needs to be higherthan the roofline of your house (and other nearby buildings) in order for thedraft to be sufficient enough for a fire in your home.

Further Reading

How A Wood Burning Stove Works

How To Use A Wood Burning Stove

7 Reasons Why Your Wood Stove Isn’t Drawing (And How To Increase It) (2024)


How can I improve the draw on my wood stove? ›

Improving the draft of your wood stove or fireplace will ensure all the smoke properly vents out of the home.
  1. Start with a Hot, Fast Fire. ...
  2. Burn Extremely Low Moisture Wood. ...
  3. Improve Airflow Around the Fire. ...
  4. Warm the Chimney Flue. ...
  5. Provide Enough Air to Replace the Air That is Lost.

What causes a wood stove not to draw? ›

There are a few reasons why your wood stove may not have enough air. First, your wood stove may not be designed properly for good venting. Second, your wood stove may not be installed properly or properly vented. Third, you may have too many things obstructing venting.

How can I improve my chimney draw? ›

By increasing the height of the fire grate, the fire is closer to the chimney channel, as a result of which, the chimney flue becomes warmer and the draft will improve immediately. You can test the effect of this by raising the fireplace grate or the fire basket with stones.

Why is my wood burning stove not giving much heat? ›

Air Control Issues

Air control is another important factor for efficient log burner performance. If the stove is not getting enough air, it will not burn properly. Likewise, if it's getting too much air, the stove will burn too hot and waste wood.

Does a taller chimney draft better? ›

Taller Chimneys Create Stronger Draft

Because air pressure is lower at higher altitudes, and a taller column of rising air pulls harder on the air below it, increasing the height of a chimney generally strengthens draft.

What makes a wood stove draw? ›

The rising column of hot gases in a flue system pull the gases below up the chimney. This phenomenon, called "draft," results in a negative pressure zone inside the flue system, which actively pulls combustion products out of the stove, and pulls fresh air in through the air intakes.

Why am I getting a back draft from my wood stove? ›

It is annoying, but not hazardous. The hot backdraft happens when a low fire is burning and the flue gases in an outside chimney are cooled to the point where draft collapses and smoke begins to seep from the stove. Once smoke begins to leak from a stove in that situation, a full hot backdraft can follow quickly.

How do you test a stove draw? ›

Stove air inlet controls should be open. For 30 seconds watch the smoke. It should all remain in the appliance (or whoosh of up the chimney) with NONE entering the room. Open a window and see if the smoke speeds up or is drawn faster into the chimney.

What causes a puff back in a wood stove? ›

If you cut down the supply of air too abruptly, the fire instantly consumes the available air, creating a powerful vacuum inside the stove. If strong enough, this vacuum will sometimes reverse the flow inside the chimney, pulling a “gulp” of air back down the flue into the firebox.

Why would a chimney not draw? ›

This can mean that smoke isn't drawn up into the flue correctly. It could also be caused by poor flue maintenance and lack of cleaning, due to the flue becoming restricted and blocked. It can also be dependent on the weather conditions and be affected by both wind direction and speed, or ambient air temperature.

What creates draw in a chimney? ›

The movement of hot gases rising from the fire creates a pressure difference between the inside of the flue and the room. This is called a “draught” and it forces air into the fireplace, this air feeds the flames as it rushes past the fire. The hotter the fire, the faster the air rises and the better the chimney works.

Does opening a window help chimney draw? ›

Keep the Damper Open- Try leaving your damper open for at least 30 minutes. It's a methodical and inefficient method, but the warm air will eventually rise through the system. Open a Window- Slightly open a nearby window to help the fireplace draw air up the flue.

How do I maximize the heat in my wood fireplace? ›

You can use a chimney damper to maximize the amount of heat produced in your fireplace and minimize the amount of heat loss when your fireplace isn't in use. Chimney dampers are often used along with glass doors to create an even stronger barrier to heat loss when the fireplace is not in use.

How hot should I let my wood stove get? ›

Keep It Hot

One of the keys to high-efficiency combustion is keeping the combustion zone hot, at least 600°C (1,100°F). If it is colder than that, the wood will tend to "smolder" (hot enough for combustible gases to escape from the wood, but not hot enough for those gases to burn).

How do you stop a down draft on a wood stove? ›

Reverse the downdraft by increasing the air pressure in the room with the wood stove. Open a window before you light the fire. Turn off appliances with fans that draw air out of the house, including the clothes dryer, kitchen range hood and bathroom fans.

Does a chimney cap reduce draft? ›

In addition to protecting your fireplace system from moisture, animals, and debris, chimney caps can also help improve fireplace drafting. The presence of a chimney cap does not eliminate draft issues, however. There are a number of draft issues that can occur even with a chimney cap.

Does a larger diameter flue draw better? ›

cold air in the flue pipe inhibits upward flow and drafting until the fire gets things heated. I recommend the smaller diameter flue pipe for that reason. Also, a bigger flue pipe does nothing to help manage an established fire after things have warmed up.

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