Wood burning stoves are a great way to increase the efficiency of your existing fireplace. They can give out a lot more heat into your home than an open fire, but can you use a wood burning stove with the door open?
Wood burning stoves are not designed to be used with the door open. You can use a wood burning stove with the door open but doing so will lose the control of the air flow into the stove, making it operate less efficiently and sending more heat up the chimney rather than out into the room.
Knowing how a wood stove works is key to understanding why using your stove you should have the door closed at all times.
Using A Wood Burning Stove With The Door Open
Wood burning stoves are a popular replacement for a traditional wood burning fireplace and can be up to 60% more efficient because less heat escapes. Although expensive, wood stoves help resolve the issue of most of the heat from a wood burning fireplace being lost up the chimney.
The idea behind a wood burning stove is that the fire is self-contained within a sealed atmosphere, where both the wood being used as a fuel and the air intake can be controlled.
As the fire in the stove begins to heat up, the surrounding metal frame of the stove absorbs this heat and radiates it out into the room, also allowing for residual heat from the stove even after the fire has long died down.
Modern stoves allow for a secondary combustion process whereby the gases that would usually be lost up the chimney in a traditional open wood fireplaces are allowed to be burnt, producing even more heat. A large proportion of the energy created from burning wood occurs during this secondary combustion process.
Leaving the stove door open can disrupt the process of efficiently burning both the wood and the gases that are released.
Wood burning stoves have air vents that have been specifically designed in every model to allow for a regulated control of air flow into the fire. If the door of a stove is left open, the control of air flow into the stove is lost, preventing the stove from operating the way is was designed to.
Opening the stove door does not increase the total heat output into the room.
Increasing the air flow into the stove will increase the rate that the fuel is burnt, making the stove less efficient and more expensive to run. More of the heat is also lost up the flue rather than out through the stove.
Wood burning stoves are designed to be used with the door closed so that the maximum heat is produced for the amount of wood burnt. Only a very small majority of stove manuals will say that the door can left open
Leaving the door open on a stove is much like having a traditional open fireplace where the air intake cannot be controlled and less heat is actually given off into the room.
If you want to maximize the total amount of heat released into your home, you should keep the door on a wood burning stove closed at all times while in use.
This will allow the stove to work as designed and be much more efficient at producing heat from the burning of the wood. With the door closed, the stove can get hot enough to achieve secondary combustion of the gases inside the stove to produce even more heat.
Significantly less air, and therefore heat, will be lost up the chimney, and it and will prevent the stove from burning the wood at a much faster rate.
When To Close The Door On A Wood Burning Stove
The door should be closed as soon as possible after lighting the fire. Sometimes your wood stove will go out when you close the door so you may have to leave the door open longer to get the fire burning hotter.
However, leaving the air vents open should provide enough air flow into the stove immediately after lighting, allowing for the door to be closed soon after lighting.
All wood stoves are different so check your manufacturers recommendations of how to get the fire going with your particular model of stove.
As every wood stove is designed and manufactured differently, you can also keep testing your stove to see how long the door needs to be open before it can be closed without causing the fire to go out.
When the door is closed, be sure to not to also closed the air vents on the stove, as this can be one of the causes of the glass on a wood burning stove turning black.
Why A Wood Stove Goes Out When The Door Is Closed
Closing the door on a wood burning stove allows it to operate in the way it was designed. In some cases, your wood stove may go out when the door is closed, so why is that?
If you are finding that your wood stove is only burning with the door open, one of the most common issues is that the fire wasn’t burning hot enough when the door was closed.
If the fire isn’t hot enough when the stove door is closed it won’t produce enough draft through the vents to sustain the fire. Try to add more kindling and leave the fire to heat up more before closing the door.
Other issues can also cause a wood stove to go out when the door is closed:
- Check the air vents; are they open wide enough? Keep the vents wide open while the stove is heating up. Furthermore, make sure that there is plenty of ventilation of fresh air in the room.
- Check the wood. Are you using dry and well-seasoned wood that has a moisture content of 30% or less, and ideally less than 20%? More energy will be required to burn of the moisture in higher moisture content logs, and will prevent the fire from quickly heating up. Also be sure not to use bits of wood that are too big as this won’t create the heat necessary at the start of a fire to produce the required draft. Start will smaller bits of wood and work your way up to larger pieces as the fire and the stove heats up.
- Inspect the flue or chimney. When was the last time you had it cleaned? A blockage or a partially open damper will cause a weak draft and can keep the fire from getting going.
How do I make My Wood Stove Cool Faster?
Opening the doors on a wood burning stove will provide more oxygen to the stove and increase the rate that the logs are burnt. Secondary combustion within the stove will also be stopped and more heat will lost up the chimney as a result.
By leaving the doors open the stove to will be able to cool down a lot faster than just leaving the remaining fuel to be burnt.
Do not however close the damper on the chimney flue as this will prevent smoke and gases from leaving your home.
What Vents Should be Open on a Wood Burner?
When lighting the stove, you should have all the air vents fully open and left open until the flames catch hold. This allows for maximum air flow to help the fire get started.
The air flow into the stove can then be restricted by manually operating the air vents to control the fire.
Why Does Smoke Come Out Of My Wood Stove When I Open The Door?
Opening the door of a wood stove will increase the air flow into the stove and should improve the draft up the flue. When smoke comes out of the stove when the door is opened, it’s a sign that your flue or chimney isn’t providing the right amount of draft to suck the smoke out of your home, and there may be a blockage.
Great content in this article! I have been burning wood (airtight) for 30 yrs. Every thing mentioned is so true. Right down to your wood supply/type.
Thank you for all the great tips !
I learn a lot by reading this article