Why does my wood stove go out when I close the door?

A wood stove goes out when you close the door, if your chimney is dirty, your wood is not seasoned or is wet, not enough draft, the wood stove air controls are closed too soon, you are not using a firestarter, and lack of proper ventilation among other things.

If your wood stove won’t stay lit when the door is closed, what can you do? well, this can be very annoying especially if you’re trying to heat your home during the winter, and sometimes can be difficult to detect the cause so where this post can help, take a look at these 13 reasons why this can happen.

Proper chimney drafting

Proper chimney drafting is essential for the safe and efficient operation of a wood-burning stove or fireplace. Draft refers to the movement of air through the chimney, and proper drafting ensures that the chimney is able to pull in enough air to support combustion, while also allowing the exhaust gases to be released safely out of the chimney.

There are several factors that can affect chimney drafting, and this can cause a wood stove to go out including the height of the chimney, the size of the flue, the temperature and velocity of the gases, and the weather conditions outside.

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To ensure that you have proper chimney drafting, it’s important to take into consideration these points:

  1. You can Install a chimney cap to prevent downdrafts these are usually caused by wind.
  2. You can have your chimney cleaned to allow for good airflow.
  3. Make sure the chimney is the correct size and proportion for your wood-burning stove or fireplace.
  4. Always use dry, seasoned wood to reduce the amount of smoke produced by moisture.
  5. Use a stove pipe thermometer to monitor the temperature of the flue and adjust the fire as needed to get it up to a hot temperature.

If you are having issues with chimney drafting, it is important to have a professional chimney sweep or technician inspect and diagnose the problem.

Set your wood stove air controls.

So one of the first things you should always do is check that the air controls are set, the air controls are valves that regulate the amount of air that enters your stove. If they are shut, it might cut off this important oxygen supply to the fire, and this will cause it to die out.

There are two main wood stove air controls that almost all stoves have, the first is a primary air control, and the other is a secondary air control, if these controls are not set in the right position this can cause your wood stove to go out if it’s not burning at a hot enough temperature.

Primary air control

The primary air control regulates the amount of air that is pulled into your firebox through the primary air intake valve, this air is needed to fuel the fire and control the burn speed of the wood, the primary air control is usually a lever or dial located near the base or side of the stove, and it can be adjusted to allow more or less air into your firebox.

wood stove fire goes out because of the air controlsPin
This picture shows a wood stove with air controls, yours may look different or be positioned in another place on the stove.

Secondary air control

Your secondary air control regulates the amount of air that is mixed with the exhaust gases as they pass through a secondary combustion chamber, this helps to complete the combustion process and reduce the amount of creosote that is produced, basically what it is doing is causing a secondary burn and burning the flue gasses this is common in most modern EPA certified stoves.

The secondary air control is usually a lever or dial located on the back or side of your stove, and it can be adjusted to allow the needed air into the combustion chamber.

Both the primary and secondary air controls can be adjusted to fine-tune the performance and optimize your fuel efficiency, you will need to play with your air controls because every stove is a bit different.


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Not allowing for proper ventilation

A wood stove needs a good supply of air in order to burn properly. The air helps to feed the fire and provides the necessary oxygen for combustion, if are having this problem and don’t do this there is not enough draft and the wood stove goes out.

If this air supply is restricted, the fire may struggle to stay lit or may burn poorly, producing less heat and potentially creating harmful smoke and carbon monoxide in your home.

To ensure proper ventilation, it is important to make sure that the air vents on the stove are open you can use your wood stove air controls to adjust this. This will allow the necessary air to flow into the stove and help the fire to burn effectively.

Use smaller pieces of wood

If possible use smaller pieces of wood to start your fire, if you use large logs it may take longer to catch fire, and you will not be burning effectively, using large loge to start your fire may cause your wood stove to go out.

Using smaller pieces of wood is beneficial because, smaller pieces of wood are much easier to handle and store, and they are definitely more convenient to use in a wood stove because they fit easily in the stove. Smaller pieces of wood also tend to dry out quickly, which is important if you are using wood that is not fully seasoned.

Using smaller pieces of wood also allows for better control over your fire, because the surface area to volume ratio is higher for smaller pieces of wood, and they will always burn faster but easier than larger pieces of wood, this can make it easier to maintain an even fire and temperature.

It is important to note that because smaller pieces burn more quickly, you may need to add more wood to the stove more often to maintain a continuous fire.

Overloading a wood stove

Overloading a wood stove or putting too much wood in can restrict the flow of air, causing the fire to burn poorly and not enough draft.

This is because the excess wood can block the air vents, preventing necessary oxygen from reaching your fire, as a result, the fire may struggle to stay lit, producing less heat and potentially creating harmful smoke in your home.

To avoid this, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the amount of wood that should be burned at one time in your stove, this will help ensure that the fire has enough needed oxygen.

Are you using the wrong size of firewood?

Using firewood that is too large or too small for the stove can make it difficult to get a good hot fire going, now if the wood is too large, it may not fit properly, restricting the flow of air and causing the wood stove to go out.

On the other hand, if the wood is too small, it may burn too quickly, requiring more frequent reloading and making it difficult to maintain a consistent fire. To get the best results always buy or cut your firewood 4 inches smaller than your firebox’s inside width.

Arranging the firewood incorrectly

It’s very important to position the wood in the stove in a way that allows for good airflow, this usually means starting with smaller pieces of kindling and building up to larger logs. arranging the wood in the stove correctly is important and helps with airflow.

The best way to start a fire is to stack the logs in a crisscross pattern, this creates good airflow and allows the fire to get enough needed oxygen. It’s also important to leave enough space between the logs.

You are not using a firestarter

Using a starter will help you get the fire going fast, a firestarter is a small, easily combustible material.

Some common starters are mentioned below:

  • Newspaper
  • Kindling
  • Twigs or sticks
  • Store-bought firestarters
  • DIY firestarters

Fire Starters Pack

These highly-rated firestarters work in your fireplace and on any campfire even when they get wet, and there are 160 per pack, so give them a try.

If you would like to try making your own firestarters take a look at ONE CRAZY HOUSE and their post about “17 Homemade Fire Starters To Keep You Toasty”

Firestarters make it faster and easier to start a fire, the reason is they give you a steady burning fire and when you put it below your firewood it will help to catch the rest of your larger pieces on fire.

Below I have made a list of ideas on how to use some common firestarters:

  1. To use a starter, simply crumple up some newspaper or gather some small twigs or sticks and place them in the center of the stove.
  2. Then, add some larger logs on top of the starter material.
  3. The starter will help to ignite the larger logs and get the fire going.
  4. Once the fire is established, you can add more wood as needed to maintain the desired heat level.
YouTube video
This is a great video on how to make DIY firestarters.

Only use dry or seasoned wood

Wet wood or wood with high moisture content is difficult to burn and causes a wood stove to go out, dry, seasoned wood is wood that has been allowed to dry out over time, usually for at least six months to a year, during this time, the moisture content of the wood decreases.

Seasoned wood is preferred for use in wood-burning stoves and fireplaces because it burns more efficiently and produces less smoke than wet or green wood it will also accumulate less creosote and burn hotter and seasoned wood will allow you to adjust the wood stove air controls.


Firewood Moisture Meter

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Wood that is not properly seasoned

Wood that is not properly seasoned, or wet wood can have a moisture content of up to 50%, which makes it difficult to burn or almost impossible to burn, if your wood is wet, that moisture acts as a barrier to the heat and oxygen that are necessary for combustion. As a result, it takes more energy and heat to get the wood burning, and it may go out easily.

In contrast, properly seasoned wood has a moisture content of 20% or less, which makes it much easier to light and sustain in a fire.

If you are having trouble getting your wood stove fire going and keeping it lit, it may be worth checking to see if you are using wet wood. If so, you are going to need to switch to properly seasoned wood to improve the performance of your stove.

Be sure that the wood stove is correctly placed and vented

If your wood stove goes out because it is not correctly installed, you can check the draft in your chimney, you can do this test by holding your hand in front of the stove with the door opened if you feel air your draft may be weak or you have a downdraft problem that is putting out your wood stove to go out.

If there is not enough draft, the fire may struggle to receive adequate oxygen, leading it to extinguish.

Cleaning the chimney regularly and ensuring that it is tall enough can help to enhance the draft, your chimney should follow the chimney height 3,2,10 Rule.

You can see more in my post about called “HOW HIGH SHOULD A CHIMNEY BE? 3 EASY MEASUREMENTS” this post explains this wood-burning chimney height rule.

Correct placement and ventilation of a wood stove

Correct placement and ventilation are important for the safe and efficient operation of the stove.

Here are some key considerations for placing and venting a wood stove:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper placement and installation of the wood stove, this will typically include specific clearance requirements for the walls, floor, and ceiling, as well as guidelines for installing the stove pipe and chimney, you can also find all of these clearances on the back of your stove where you will find the certification label stating measurements and clearances to combustibles
  2. Make sure the wood stove is properly vented to the outside of your home or building, this involves installing a stove pipe or sometimes called a black pipe, single or double wall pipe, that connects the stove to a chimney, this stove pipe should be properly sized and installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the certification label if it is not sized properly this may be the cause of your fire going out when you close the wood stove door, even an inch too big or too small can make the difference and your wood stove goes out.
  3. Inspect the chimney regularly to ensure that it is clean and free of obstructions, or even bird nests can especially be a problem in the spring, installing a rain cap and cleaning will remedy this problem.
  4. Creosote is a flammable byproduct of combustion, that can build up in the chimney and increase the risk of a chimney fire, It can also cause your wood stove to go out if there is a blockage because of lack of cleaning, annual cleaning and inspection are recommended by chimney sweeps.

Closing the door on your wood stove too early

If you close the door on your stove too early can restrict the flow of air and cause the fire to burn poorly or go out, when a wood stove is burning, your stove needs a good supply of oxygen in order to maintain an efficient fire, without this there is not enough draft. If the door is closed too early, it can restrict the flow of air, causing the fire in your wood stove to go out.

It is generally best to wait until the fire is well established and the logs are burning steadily before closing the door, this will help ensure that the fire has enough air to burn, and leaving your wood stove air controls opened long enough will help the fire continue to burn hot while starting.

Closing the air vents on a wood stove too soon

Closing the air vents on a wood stove too soon can restrict the airflow and cause the fire to burn weak and the wood stove to go out. when a wood stove is burning, it has to have a good supply of air in order to maintain a strong fire.

To avoid these problems, it is generally best to wait until the fire is well burning hot and the logs are burning steadily before closing the vents, if you leave your wood stove door cracked open slightly the fire will pull air quickly into the firebox accelerating the fire and this helps the fire catch rapidly, this will heat up your chimney and in effect give you better draft.

Ashes can restrict the wood stove airflow

Ashes can also restrict the airflow in a wood stove, which can cause the fire to burn slowly or smolder and go out, when a wood stove is burning, it needs a good supply of air in order to maintain a fire. If the ashes are not removed from the stove regularly, they can accumulate and restrict the airflow, it is good to have some ash in your stove because it does help keep coals burning, but if you have too much in your firebox you will need to clean them out with a metal fireplace shovel and pail.

It is generally recommended to remove the ashes from the stove regularly, following the manufacturer’s instructions for doing so, this will help to ensure that the fire has enough oxygen to burn efficiently.

Wood stove goes out when the door is closed, conclusion

If your wood stove goes out when the door is closed then I really hope these suggestions were a help, if you have any questions or would like to add some value to this post please leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading.

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