Why Does the Pellet Stove Smell Like Smoke?

Pellet stove maintenance and regular cleaning keeps the stoves efficient, safe, and clean. One question to ask yourself is when should I check the pellet stove gasket for leaks.  Some people may not know that a pellet stove gasket is actually a rope gasket that fits around the door to keep the seal tight, the air in, and your home warm.  

The first sign you need to check the pellet stove gasket is a smokey smell in the house because it often signals that your stove has a seal leak.  A new pellet stove may have a "burn off" smell that goes away once it is broken in.  A stove will usually give off a smoke smell the first time it is fired up for the burn season, but that smokey smell is normal.  A smoke smell that gets worse over time and does not go away with different wood pellets indicates a seal leak.

Check a Wood Pellet Stove for Seal Leaks - Visual Inspection

A visual inspection of the rope gasket is an easy and important part of pellet stove maintenance.

The first step is to check out the rope gaskets.  The pellet stove gasket is a white rope that forms a seal around the door and the ash basin door.  Gaskets will wear out, crack, and loosen over time with normal use of the pellet stove.

Check out the pellet stove seals on the door and the ash door (if there is one).  Look at the width of the rope gasket.  The rope gasket should be full enough to make a tight seal when the door shuts.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure there are approximately 3 centimeters of rope rather than a flattened gasket.

After looking checking the gaskets around the ash bin door and the main wood pellet stove door, check the gasket seal.

How to Check or Test Pellet Stove Gasket Door Seal with a Piece of Paper:

1. Get out a piece of paper to check the wood pellet stove gasket seal.

2. Open the pellet stove door.

3. Close the paper in the pellet stove door.   

4. Hold the paper with one hand. Shut the door on the paper and then try to pull it up and out.  If the pellet stove's gasket seal is good then the paper will not come out.  If the gasket/seal is thinning and not tight the paper will come out of the closed door. 

The paper should not come out.  If it does then the pellet stove probably needs to have the rope gasket replaced.  Make sure to use a piece of paper that is long enough to test the gasket.

5. Move along all of the openings around both the main wood stove door and the ash bin door repeating the same close, pull, open actions to test the wood stove seal. If the paper stays in place then the gasket is good. If the paper comes out then the rope gasket should be replaced.  Pellet stove rope gasket and glue can be purchased at Ace Hardware and other retailers. 

6. Repeat this process when needed in order to keep the stoves in good working order.

Imperial #GA0156 5/8x6 Pell Stove Rope
Amazon Price: $6.34 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 7, 2016)

Wood Pellet Stove Safety Tips

One danger posed by pellet stoves is the carbon monoxide the pellets give off when they are burning.  Pellet stoves require proper exhaust venting to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.  These are a few safety tips for using wood pellet stoves:

  • Always use a carbon monoxide detector when burning a wood pellet stove.
  • Get out of the house immediately if you suspect a carbon monoxide leak.  Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous (and deadly) gas that is odorless and colorless.  People die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, particularly because it cannot be detected without a CO2 detector, so the deadly gas renders people unconscious and can be fatal.
  • Place a carbon monoxide detector within 10 feet of the wood pellet stove.
  • Clean the pellet stove chimney and exhaust pipes in the late fall when it's time to prepare for winter.  Hire a or hire a professional to perform pellet stove maintenance when necessary.
Pellet Stove Door with Rope Gasket that Leaks
Credit: jpwriter
Paper Used to Test Pellet Stove Gasket Seal

Image credit: jpwriter.  


When you are checking the pellet stove for seal leaks its important that you use the paper and make sure that it pulls through the gasket snug so you know that it is tight enough to keep the heat inside whether its supposed to be.

How to Test a Pellet Stove Door Seal
Credit: jpwriter

Image Credit:  jpwriter.  As with the piece of paper, as long as the dollar bill is tight then you know that your knew wood pellet stove gasket is tight and weather proof as well.