Why doesn't my heater produce enough heat?
Possible causes and solutions:
- The moisture content of your wood is too high.
Solution: Make sure you use good, seasoned wood. The wood you burn plays an important role in the overall performance of your heater. Your wood should have been properly dried for about one year. Furthermore, it is better to use hardwood, such as oak, maple, beech, or ash. For the same volume, hardwood will produce more heat. Storage is also very important. Wood that has been cut for one, two or even more years, will not necessarily be dry if it has been stored in poor conditions. Under extreme conditions, it may have rotted instead of drying. Smaller pieces of wood will dry faster. The wood should be stored in a place where the grass is not too long, and where the wind will be able to circulate between the logs. A 12-inch gap should be kept between the cords. The wood should be placed in the sunniest area and should be protected from the rain and snow on top, but not on the sides. Use a moisture reader to measure the moisture content of your wood. Ideally, it should be below 25%.
- The air control mechanism is not open enough.
Solution: Adjust the air control mechanism in order to keep the flue temperature within the comfort zone (between 250 °F and 475 °F) on your chimney thermometer. The air control mechanism must always be closed gradually. You need to obtain a good bed of red embers and the logs must be completely lit up before you close the air control completely. This can easily take up to one hour.
- The logs that you are using are too big.
Solution: Use smaller pieces of wood and place them to allow proper air circulation between the logs. The same weight of wood cut in many small pieces will produce more heat than fewer, larger logs. Only add big logs when you have a good bed of red embers. Logs with a diameter exceeding 6 inches should always be split. Avoid stacking logs to the top of the firebox.
- The chimney draft is too weak.
Solution #1: In many cases, a weak draft is simply due to insufficient heat in the exhaust system. Build a small, intense fire, and leave the door ajar (never leave the heater unattended). Before inserting larger logs, use dry kindling to obtain a good bed of red embers. Gradually increase the size of the logs. Close the unit’s door when you reach a flue temperature of approximately 475 °F on the chimney thermometer. Leave the air intake fully open for approximately 15 minutes. Then, gradually close the air intake control. Note that there is no danger in letting the temperature inside the flue reach approximately 700 °F during the start-up. This is even favorable in order to properly start your heater. You must, however, avoid maintaining excessive temperatures (above the comfort zone on your thermometer) during a long period of time. Your chimney thermometer should be positioned on the exhaust pipe, approximately 18 inches above the unit.
Solution #2: Your heater may not have all the oxygen it needs to allow for a sufficient draft. You first need to ensure that the room where the heater is located is sufficiently large and well ventilated. Open the nearest window by approximately 2 inches. If you notice a significant improvement, it is a sign that the unit needs more oxygen. The room may be too insulated or too small. Without an additional source of oxygen, the draft will remain weak and cause the glass stay dirty.
Solution #3: The chimney may be too short. In order to obtain a sufficient draft, your chimney must have a minimum height. Twelve feet (from the heater to the chimney cap outside the house) is a minimum. A height of 15 feet or higher is ideal.
Solution #4: Your exhaust system may be too restrictive or may lack a sufficient rise. Ideally, your exhaust system should not have more than one 90° elbow. Furthermore, all horizontal sections should be as short as possible and have a minimum slope of ¼" per foot.
Solution #5: Your exhaust system may be oversized. When your chimney is oversized, the volume of air that needs to be warmed-up is larger. It is therefore difficult to reach temperatures that will allow for a sufficient draft. Most advanced combustion systems (those certified to EPA/CSAB415.1-10) have a 6" flue outlet (152 mm). If your exhaust system does not have a 6" diameter, a solution is to insert a stainless liner with a 6" diameter inside the exhaust system.
If you have verified all the points mentioned above and your heater works fine, but still does not produce enough heat, you may be asking for more than what your appliance can realistically give you. Stoves, fireplaces, and inserts are used for "zone heating”. It is normal that the heat is distributed unevenly inside your home. It will always be colder in the rooms that are distant from the heater. Furthermore, since heat rises, a heater located at the ground-floor level will not heat your basement.
Solution #6: It is possible to increase heat circulation between the floors by installing floor traps. The location of your heater is also important. Try to install it in a central location. If you want to heat both your basement and the ground floor, install your heater in the basement. The heat will rise to the upper floors. Verify that the area you try to heat respects your appliance’s heating capacity. Your appliance’s heating capacity can be found on the printed literature, in the owner’s manual, or in the technical data section on our web site. Keep in mind that your appliance's heating capacity assumes optimum conditions. It may be too low in situations where a house is poorly insulated, or highly exposed to wind. If you already have an appliance with a high heating capacity that works normally but does not heat enough, you probably need a central heating system, such as a warm air wood furnace.