Why Is My Pellet Stove Smoking?

A pellet stove is a great heating option for many homes. Pellet stoves burn small pellets made of compressed sawdust for an efficient and clean burn. However, sometimes pellet stoves can start smoking, which is both annoying and potentially hazardous. In this guide, we’ll cover the common reasons a pellet stove smokes and the steps you can take to stop the smoking and enjoy clean operation.

Why Is My Pellet Stove Smoking

What Causes a Smoking Pellet Stove?

What Causes a Smoking Pellet Stove?

There are a few typical culprits that lead to a smoking pellet stove:

Not Enough Air Flow

For complete combustion, a pellet stove needs adequate air flow. If the air damper is closed too far or the air intake becomes clogged, it restricts airflow into the burn pot. This leads to incomplete burning of the pellets, resulting in smoke. Make sure to open the damper fully and check for any obstructions around the air intake. Also ensure the room itself has proper ventilation.

Dirty Burn Pot

Over time, ash and debris accumulate in the burn pot. This residue can prevent proper air flow through the pellet fire. Regular cleaning is essential – use a vacuum or brush to thoroughly remove ash buildup from the burn pot. Make sure all of the air holes are free of obstructions.

Low Quality Pellets

Not all wood pellets are created equal. Cheap, softwood pellets like pine tend to burn dirtier and are more likely to smoke. Look for premium hardwood pellets made from oak, maple, or other dense woods. Ensure any pellets you buy meet the Pellet Fuel Institute (PFI) standards for low ash content.

Blocked Vents

For smoke to properly vent outside, both the intake and the exhaust need clear paths. If the exhaust vent is blocked by debris or has improper bends, it can cause smoking inside the stove. Make sure the exhaust piping is installed correctly without any obstructions. Also clear any debris around the fresh air intake vent.

Improper Installation

If the pellet stove is not properly installed and ventilated, it may operate inefficiently. Confirm the stove and venting were installed to code and manufacturer specifications. An improperly sized or positioned exhaust vent can lead to smoke backing up.

How to Stop Your Pellet Stove Smoking?

If your pellet stove has started smoking, there are various fixes you can try:

Increase Air Flow

First, ensure the air damper on the stove is fully open. Open any nearby windows as well to get more fresh air circulating. Check the air intake pipe and exhaust vent for any blockages and clear away any debris. Make sure the room is properly ventilated.

Clean the Burn Pot Thoroughly

Get in the habit of removing ashes from the burn pot regularly. When smoke occurs, thoroughly clean the burn pot with a vacuum or brush to remove every bit of ash and residue. Confirm all of the small air holes are completely debris-free.

Use Top Quality Hardwood Pellets

Avoid bargain-priced softwood pellets, which burn dirtier. Purchase premium hardwood pellets made from wood like oak, alder, or maple. Look for pellets that are PFI certified to ensure low ash content and consistent size.

Check the Venting System

Inspect the entire exhaust vent pipe, looking for any areas where smoke could leak out due to leaks or disconnected piping. Ensure the vent pipe size adheres to the stove manufacturer specifications. Straighten any tight bends or kinks that could obstruct airflow.

Have a Professional Service

If the smoking persists despite cleaning and maintenance, the stove may need professional servicing. A technician can inspect the stove, venting, and installation and make adjustments or repairs as needed. They can diagnose and resolve any underlying issues.

Routine Pellet Stove Maintenance

Proper maintenance is key to efficient, safe operation of your pellet stove. Follow these habits:

  • Inspect door seals and gaskets yearly and replace if needed.
  • Clean convection blower fans regularly to remove dust buildup.
  • Empty the burn pot and vacuum the entire firebox weekly.
  • Clean glass window with stove glass cleaner regularly.
  • Periodically check that all electrical components like blowers are functioning.
  • Inspect the venting system yearly for any leaks, corrosion, or blockages.
  • Replace any damaged or severely worn components like baffles.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean out the burn pot?

It’s recommended to remove ashes from the burn pot daily. At least every few days, give it a thorough vacuuming to keep air holes clear.

Can poor quality pellets damage my stove over time?

Yes, cheap pellets with higher ash content can cause more buildup and residue in the burn pot and other components. They can shorten the lifespan of the stove.

What are signs I need professional service for my pellet stove?

If the stove continues smoking persistently after trying standard solutions, it likely needs servicing. Error codes, strange sounds, or a considerable drop in heating efficiency are also signs to call a technician.

Does the vent pipe need cleaning periodically?

Yes, it’s a good idea to detach and clean the vent pipe about once a season to remove any fly ash or creosote buildup. This helps it vent properly.

Should I get my pellet stove installation inspected?

If the stove was installed by a non-professional, it’s wise to have a technician inspect that it was properly installed and the venting meets code requirements. This can prevent issues.

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