Problems lighting stove

Why Won't My Stove Light? Common Issues with Solid Fuel Stoves

Solid fuel stoves are known for their warmth and cosy ambiance, making them a popular choice for heating homes.

However, if you've ever experienced frustration trying to light your solid fuel stove, you're not alone. There are several reasons why your stove might refuse to light, and in this blog post, we'll explore some common issues and troubleshooting tips to help you enjoy a toasty, well-lit fire.

  1. Insufficient Draft

A lack of draft is a common culprit when your solid fuel stove won't light. A draft is necessary to draw air into the stove, support combustion, and expel smoke and gases through the chimney.

Troubleshooting Tip:

  • Ensure that the stove's air intake vents are open to allow sufficient air circulation.
  • Check for blockages in the chimney or flue that might be inhibiting proper draft.
  • Ensure there is sufficient air flow within the room.
  1. Wet or Unseasoned Fuel

Attempting to burn wet or unseasoned wood can lead to difficulties in lighting your stove. Moisture in the wood hinders combustion and produces excessive smoke.

Troubleshooting Tip:

  • Only use well-seasoned firewood with a moisture content of around 20% or less.
  • Store firewood in a dry, well-ventilated area to ensure it remains properly seasoned.
  1. Poorly Arranged Fuel

The way you arrange your fuel in the stove can affect ignition. A poor fuel arrangement can obstruct airflow and inhibit the fire's development.

Troubleshooting Tip:

  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for loading the stove with fuel, ensuring proper stacking and spacing of logs.
  • Use smaller kindling and fire-starting materials to help ignite the fire.
  • See also the Top down method of lighting.
  1. Cold Chimney

A cold chimney can hinder the upward movement of smoke and gases, making it difficult for the fire to establish itself. This is also known as the cold air plug.

Troubleshooting Tip:

  • Prime the chimney by warming it up before starting a fire. You can do this by lighting some newspaper and holding it near the flue opening to create an updraft.
  • See also the Top down method of lighting.
  1. Blocked Air Supply

If the air supply passages or vents in your stove are clogged with ash or debris, it can impede the flow of oxygen and hinder combustion.

Troubleshooting Tip:

  • Regularly clean the stove's air supply passages and vents to ensure unobstructed airflow.
  • Empty the ash pan regularly to prevent ash build up.
  1. Damaged or Malfunctioning Components

Sometimes, the issue may be with the stove itself. Malfunctioning or worn-out components like fire bricks, baffles, or stove rope can affect the stove's ability to retain heat and maintain a fire.

Troubleshooting Tip:

  • Inspect your stove for any visible signs of damage or wear.
  • Replace damaged components as needed, and consult a professional if you suspect more significant issues with the stove's components.


When your solid fuel stove won't light, it can be frustrating, but by systematically addressing common issues like insufficient draft, wet fuel, poor arrangement, and blocked air supply, you can usually overcome these challenges. Regular maintenance and following best practices for operating your stove will ensure that it lights up and provides warmth and comfort whenever you need it. 

Written by Gary Walker 
Gary, owner of Swept. Chimney Sweeping Services in Huddersfield, is a HETAS trained and approved chimney sweep, co-founder of GD Logs (, and an award-winning direct marketing expert. Raised on a small holding with a passion for wood burners since the 80s, Gary is City & Guilds NPTC qualified in Chainsaws and Tree Felling. He advocates for sustainable heating fuels and possesses a passion for wood burning stoves. 

Back to advice page

We need your consent to load the translations

We use a third-party service to translate the website content that may collect data about your activity. Please review the details in the privacy policy and accept the service to view the translations.