A good chimney and system design produces desirable performance characteristics:
This is good wood stove performance:
(hint: it's really the chimney that's doing the performing!)
Think of the chimney as the engine that drives the wood heating system. Think of its fuel as heat. Think of the power it puts out as draft. The more fuel (heat) you give this engine (chimney), the more power (draft) it will deliver. So, the hotter the exhaust gases, the more draft is produced. Draft, by the way, is good. It's the suction that keeps the smoke from coming into the room. Insulation in the chimney is important because it helps to keep the exhaust hot until it is expelled outside, and so, increases draft. The chimney works with the stove or fireplace in a kind of feedback loop. Heat in chimney makes draft, which pulls in more combustion air, which makes the fire burn hotter, which delivers more heat to the chimney which makes more draft and so on. An insulated chimney makes more draft with less heat. In winter, a well-designed and properly installed chimney makes some draft and flows some air upwards, even when no fire is burning. When you build a fire in a stove connected to such a chimney, the kindling ignites easily, draft increases rapidly and you have a nice bright, hot fire right away—and no smoking. This is the kind of system you want in your house.
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