Spring and Autumn Syndrome is rampant this time of the year. And no, we’re not talking about a Seasonal Affective Disorder that affects people.
Spring and Autumn Syndrome is usually connected with smoke blowing back down your chimney/flue when you start your fire, which is highly inconvenient and can smoke out your house! It happens when the air within the chimney/flue is colder and heavier than the air outside, resulting in a cold plug of air in the chimney/flue.
How the Stove and Flue Should Work
The stove and its flue use the temperature variations between the interior and the air outside. Under normal conditions, the air inside a home is usually warmer and lighter than the colder outside air, resulting in a pressure difference that induces a natural updraught inside the flue – where warmer air has to rise through the flue due to the greater pressure.
This natural draught exists whether or not the stove is utilised, and the larger the temperature differential, the stronger the updraught. When hot combustion gases are injected into the flue, this process is enhanced, allowing them to be effectively expelled into the atmosphere.
When the temperatures are reversed, updraughts occur. For example, on days when it is unexpectedly warmer outside than indoors, as is typical during abnormally hot spells in spring or fall. This is when lighting your stove becomes problematic since there is no natural updraught to kick-start the process.
The air within is colder and heavier than the outside, resulting in a heavy cold ‘plug’ in the flue that tries to fall back into the room, causing a downdraught. You won’t realise anything is wrong until you try to fire your stove. However, it is pretty simple to deal with if you know the factors that create spring and autumn sickness.
Spring and Autumn Syndrome: How to Handle It
1. Start your fire with firelighters rather than a newspaper. Newspaper burns rapidly and with little heat, yet you want to warm up the chimney/flue. Natural firelighters are often recommended.
2. Build the fire incrementally. Begin with a firelighter and dry kindling. After igniting, leave the stove door ajar. Wait until the kindling is well-burning before adding a small log. Wait until the log is well-burning before adding another tiny log. When all of the logs are well-burning, close the door. If the firebox begins to fill with smoke again, open the stove door and keep it ajar for a few moments longer.
3. Open your doors or windows. You may need to open a door or window to allow more draughts into the room to assist the smoke in breaking through the cold plug of air in the chimney/flue.
If smoke continues to enter the room, discontinue use. Allowing the smoke to “naturally” dissipate may cause your family members asphyxiation brought about by smoke inhalation. Please seek expert guidance and refrain from using the stove until the problem has been discovered and corrected.
Stove Scotland provides a comprehensive professional maintenance and chimney sweep package to ensure that you and your family may enjoy your stove for many years to come. Maintain your wood burning stoves by reaching out to our team today!