The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Looking for the source of a smoky wood stove

Wood stove

Our darling Jotul has rivaled Artemesia for providing me with the most joy per hour during its stay on the farm. Unfortunately, this winter, our well-sealed wood stove seems to have sprung a leak. Now I can just barely smell a tinge of smoke in the air when the stove is running, which means it's time to reseal the stove.

Wood stove leakThe first step is searching for the leak. Since we haven't lit a huge fire in a stone cold stove, chances of there being a crack within the stove itself are slim. Instead, Mark pointed me toward the junction between stove pipe and stove. Sure enough, there appears to be a small gap where the pipe fits into the stove's sleeve.

Next up --- get some high-temperature caulk and seal that leak, then hope the smoky scent goes away. If that's all the repair our stove needs after five years of hard work, I'll be highly impressed!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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HI Anna and Mark,

Silly me. I though ALL wood stoves smelled like wood smoke :).

Been quite a while since we heated with wood on a city lot. I found out later that some of the neighbors would call the fire department from time to time to try to get them to harass us.

Now we heat with city gas. VERY NICE. But no goats :).

Warm regards from NH,


Comment by John Mon Jan 11 10:53:58 2016
How often do you clean your chimney and stove cap? I find that I get small 'leaks' if I have any build up in creosote - it messes with the draft and then I get little (or big leaks.)
Comment by Charity Mon Jan 11 11:39:41 2016

John --- It's surprising how many people think that. But, nope, a well-sealed stove shouldn't make the house smell like smoke at all!

Charity --- We're pretty meticulous about cleaning the pipes once a year, and even then there's very little buildup because I usually run hot fires with dry wood. But that does remind me that I wanted to see if I could clean out the baffle inside the stove since I suspect that when we send the chimney brush down, the creosote builds up there. Good point!

Comment by anna Mon Jan 11 11:47:23 2016

There is also a 3M metallic tap that is used to seal ducting joints like the one in stove pipes. It is flexible, heat resistant and has strong adhesive backing. I'd also look at the connection of the pipe to the stove.

When I heated by wood most smoke smells were drafting and back drafting issues.

Comment by Gerry Mon Jan 11 16:53:17 2016

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