Mystery Smell & Suction Competition

When the stove was brand new, the first few hot fires produced smelly (probably toxic) fumes as its external enamel paint “cured” (the owner’s manual warned of this– we kept the windows open etc.)  After that first week, the stove has been odorless– until, strangely, about two weeks ago there was a day when suddenly the “hot paint” smell returned during an average fire.  It was definitely not normal smoke smell, and there was nothing to see– just a mysterious fume-y smell.  Later I took the stove apart, inspected inside, inspected the flue, went outside and inspected up the chimney– no creosote, nothing to be seen.

The smell hasn’t returned again.  After much head-scratching I wondered if, maybe, we’d been running the clothes dryer at the same time as the fire– which we’ve never paid attention to avoiding, but probably doesn’t happen often.  After learning that the average dryer sucks 5+ times the air of the average wood stove, I wondered whether this might have reduced draft and somehow caused the smell.

During a fire yesterday I ran the dryer for a while.  It did noticeably reduce the ferocity of the fire, but didn’t extinguish it.  No adverse smells arose, and certainly no smokey backpuffing or anything that extreme.  So I’m still puzzled by the one-time recrudescence of the paint smell.  Any ideas?

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4 Responses to “Mystery Smell & Suction Competition”

  1. AnnMarie Says:

    Was this one of the first fires of the season? We noticed a smell again during our first fire in Nov.

  2. coldhousejournal Says:

    No, strangely it was maybe the 10th or 12th fire of the season. Nor was it the hottest one of the season to date. So it’s perplexing…

  3. Johanna Says:

    And you have controlled for wood quality? And nobody emptied a bagless vacuum cleaner on top of your wood stove before the stinky fires?

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      “And you have controlled for wood quality? And nobody emptied a bagless vacuum cleaner on top of your wood stove before the stinky fires?”

      The wood is quite uniform– same stuff we’ve been burning for a year. Anyway, it didn’t smell like wood. It didn’t smell natural at all. I’ll have to check on the vacuum bag question…

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