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I recently moved into a house that has a working wood burner/multi fuel. It's the first time I've had a wood burner/stove/multi fuel and I'm unsure how to use it efficiently.

It's unlike conventional stoves that I see (it's all metal with no glass doors). The heat output has so far been uninspiring and I was hoping it would be better.

So far we've been burning coal and some wood.

I'm looking for some pointers on how to maximise the heat output; should I run it with the doors open or shut? I have 2 vents on the bottom of the doors and something on the flue that turns (which I imagine shuts off the flue/chimney), do I run the top flue/vent wide open?

Any advice will be much appreciated.

Thanks :-)

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  • Stoves don't have the greatest heat efficiency, they leak a lot though the chimney (which you need to vent to the outside if you want to keep breathing). – ratchet freak Nov 9 '16 at 15:28
  • Have a reputable chimney sweep check out the whole thing from top to bottom before using; the flue could be plugged with critter nests, or worse, creosote. – SqlACID Nov 9 '16 at 16:27
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You should definitely run it with the flue open, all that smoke/CO needs to go outside, not in the house. You mentioned two vents on the bottom. Those are likely there to allow you to close the front and allow the fire to still get air. As SqlACID mentioned, spending $100 or so on a reputable chimney sweep to come take a look at it in person would be a good idea; they would be able to help you use it to its best advantage.

I would experiment with closing the front and see what effect it has on the burning rate as well as the heat produced. It is also a good idea to try to move the warmth produced by the stove into the rest of the house, so running a fan to pull that warm air away might also be something to try.

What make/model of stove do you have? I might try googling the make/model to see what comes up on how to best use it.

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I have had a coal/wood stove for years. It will take you a while to master. You do not want the flue all the way open, you will lose all of the heat out of the chimney and your fuel will burn fast. You will need to mess around with the dampers to figure out your optimal settings. These will change some with outside temperature.

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Damping the flue can retain heat in the firebox, but the real key to heat extraction is airflow outside the fireplace. The best stoves and fireplaces have integrated fans that route air though the interior of the structure, but keep it isolated from the combustion chamber. I'd be looking to emulate that somehow.

Either investigate add-on kits, or simply place a small fan behind the stove, at a safe distance, and direct it at the fireplace. You'll probably be amazed at how much heat is available at even low fan speeds.

To really make it work well, connect the fan to a thermostatic plug, and place that under the fireplace to automatically shut off the fan when heat diminishes.

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I only have a woodburner to provide heat in the house. First year I did similar and had the flue open, the heat just went up the chimney, burnt a lot of fuel and was mildy warm.

I would recommend running it with the doors shut and balance the draw going up the chimney, almost completely level but only move it down after a few minutes of it being a light so the flue is warm, otherwise you'll fill the room with smoke! You should have sliders in the bottom of the doors which you want open. This will circulate air into the stove and it will burn hotter. Coal burns longer than wood and gives longevity, wood is quick burning but gives a higher heat output. So burn a coal bed and add wood on top. When adding fuel you probably want to move the flue fully open first, otherwise you'll fill the room with smoke, close doors again and then move the flue back to almost closed.

Because the stove is in the chimney breast rather than set out from it means the air circulating around it is reduced which gives you the heat, rather than the fuel (fuel is heating the stove which is heating the air) but you should still get a good level of heat from it.

Also get a carbon monoxide monitor if you are worried and make sure the flue is swept yearly.

Good luck

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Congratulations - you appear to have a knock-off of a Ben Franklin stove. Yep, that Ben Franklin, design nearing 250 years old, though most extant examples were produced in the wild and wooly 1970's when "the oil crisis" hit and there were no regulations to speak of applying to wood stoves. If yours happens to be a lot older it might be worth some serious money as an antique, but it probably isn't.

The best way to get good heat from one of those is: sell it (as an antique, or as scrap, preferably not as a wood-burning appliance), and buy something remotely modern, efficient, and clean burning. None of which that is - I know, I have replaced one myself. Be sure to save the lovely brass parts, (or scrap them separately) they are probably worth more than the entire rest of the stove.

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First of all, safety should be your top priority. Unlike a regular furnace, a wood stove represents a serious safety hazard. Before using it, at a minimum you should:

  • have the chimney / flue inspected and cleaned if necessary.
  • make sure you have a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm installed nearby. Note that alarms have a limited lifespan (5-10 years), so check the bottom for an expiration date. (This would be a good time to verify the whole house's alarms, for that matter: one smoke alarm in every bedroom, one outside each sleeping area, minimum one per floor. For CO alarms you only need one per floor.)
  • make sure your homeowner's insurance knows that you have a wood stove. They may have questions about the type, installation, last service, etc. Make sure you are 100% legit since if the house burns down and they find out you lied about it, they will deny your coverage.

Having said all that, you generally want to keep the doors closed while using it to prevent all your warm air from being sucked up the chimney. Adjust the vents on the bottom to let fresh air in. If the stove is properly designed the vents should provide sufficient airflow. On some stoves you might have to leave the door ajar while the kindling lights; if you can find a model number you should be able to look up a manual online.

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