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Why Is Your Pellet Stove Blowing Smoke?

Pellet stoves use pellet fuel (hence the name) which generally produces cleaner fire with relatively less smoke emission than traditional wood stoves. Furthermore, pellet stoves are inherently more sophisticated, with tons of different sensors and automation features to ensure a safe and consistent heating experience. So why is it blowing smoke?

Your pellet stove is blowing smoke because of poor maintenance. If the burn pot is dirty, it’ll cause excessive smoke generation. Similarly, a misplaced baffle plate or improperly installed exhaust vent can blow smoke. Burning poor-quality pellets can also cause smoke build-up.

In this article, I’ll give you a detailed overview covering why your pellet stove is blowing smoke. By the end, you should have a thorough understanding of the various parts of your pellet stove that, if mishandled, can expel smoke into your room. This should help you better maintain your pellet stove for optimal efficiency and smoke-free heating.

Reasons Your Pellet Stove Is Blowing Smoke

There are 4 primary reasons why your pellet stove is blowing smoke:

  • The burn pot is dirty.
  • The baffle is misplaced.
  • The exhaust vent is not installed properly.
  • You’re using poor quality pellets.

Let’s go over each of the points in more detail.

The Burn Pot Is Dirty

The most common reason for your pellet stove blowing smoke is that the burn pot is dirty.

You see, although pellet stoves burn more cleanly with negligible smoke emission, you need to keep in mind that “little” doesn’t equal “none.” As such, a pellet stove will naturally produce trace amounts of soot and leave behind some debris during the burning process.

Now, if you don’t routinely clean your pellet stove, specifically the burn pot, the soot and debris will start to build up and will later cause problems with the combustion process, like pushing your pellet stove to blow smoke.

Thankfully, you can easily resolve this issue by cleaning the burn pot. 

It’s a standard DIY cleanup routine, but I’d urge you to get a pellet stove scraper tool like the Harman & Heatilator Arrow Scraper (available on Amazon.com) to make the process much easier. It’s made of high-grade steel to help you scrape off stubborn build-ups from the burn pot.

Once you have the scraper tool in hand, here’s a short step-by-step guide on cleaning your pellet stove burn pot.

  1. Turn off the pellet stove and let it cool down to room temperature.
  2. Open the pellet stove door and use a vacuum cleaner to suck up all the ash and soot inside the burn pot.
  3. Remove the burn pot from its compartment and use the scraping tool to dislodge all the soot and debris stuck to the burn pot.
  4. Again take your vacuum cleaner and suck out all the debris collected inside the burn pot seat.
  5. If your pellet stove has a hidden ash drawer, open the panel covering it and vacuum that area.

And that’s it! You have successfully cleaned the burn pot on your pellet stove.

The Baffle Is Misplaced

Your pellet stove has baffle plates (either one or more) positioned at the top of the combustion chamber. Its function is to reflect some of the waste air back into the combustion chamber to burn it and maximize heat generation.

However, if you recently cleaned the pellet stove or moved the baffle plate around, it might not be in its correct position. This could potentially cause it to reflect more waste air back into the combustion chamber. 

The extra waste air can interfere with the combustion process leading to smoke formation inside the combustion chamber. 

And again, because of the incorrectly placed baffle plates, the smoke won’t be able to leave through the vents and will end up gathering inside the chamber, further interfering with the combustion process. This quickly turns into a vicious cycle creating more and more smoke.

Thankfully, adjusting the baffle plate(s) to the proper orientation and position will solve this issue.

Likewise, some pellet stoves use a “restrictive baffle” that uses a very tight design to reflect back even more waste air into the combustion chamber. In proper test conditions, these do help increase the overall heat generation. 

However, since real-world scenarios rarely stimulate the perfect lab conditions, the restrictive baffle can reflect back excessive exhaust air into the combustion chamber, thereby interfering with the combustion process and creating more smoke than before.

The Exhaust Vent Is Not Installed Properly

Have you fitted your pellet stove with an exhaust vent to expel the waste air? 

If so, the vent probably wasn’t properly installed, making it difficult for the smoke to smoothly exit your house. As a result, the smoke will back up into your pellet stove’s combustion chamber and possibly blow inside your room.

Unfortunately, the only way to fix this issue is to reinstall the exhaust vent in the correct orientation. To do this, I recommend calling a qualified HVAC technician to make sure the job’s done right!

On a similar note, if your pellet stove is configured to work with your masonry chimney as the waste air ventilation system, the chimney downdraft can prevent smoke from escaping through the chimney and back up into your room.

To solve issues related to chimney downdraft, you must improve the air intake of your pellet stove. To do this, you can install an outdoor air intake vent for your pellet stove.

You’re Using Poor Quality Pellets

Another common yet overlooked reason behind pellet stoves blowing smoke is that you’re burning poor-quality pellets.

It’s worth noting that the main reason why pellet stoves have a clean fire is that they are burning pellet fuel with dense biofuel content and low moisture levels.

However, if you’re using pellets that have gone damp or are simply low quality, they won’t burn as cleanly and will cause excess smoke production, potentially causing smoke to blow into the room.

Fortunately, you can quickly fix this problem by switching to high-quality pellets like the Flame Genie FG-P20 (available on Amazon.com). It’s made using 100% natural wood fuel without any glue or binder and has low water content (5-10%).

Key Takeaways

If your pellet stove is blowing smoke, it’s mainly because of poor maintenance. 

For example, if the burn pot is dirty, all the soot and debris will interfere with the combustion process resulting in more smoke build-up. 

Similarly, if the baffle plate is misplaced or the exhaust vent isn’t correctly installed, that can also cause excessive smoke generation.

Another common reason for pellet stoves to blow smoke is burning poor-quality pellets with high moisture content. 

Author

  • Jake Alexander

    Jake is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania who enjoys writing about science and sports. When he's not writing for Temperature Master, he can be found watching the NFL or playing basketball with his friends.

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