I have a wood stove in my basement that is hard to get lit without smoking us out of the home. Can you explain why it smokes in the house and how I can prevent this?

Wood stoves and chimneys can often smoke because of draft problems. Draft problems are usually related to how the chimney is designed, if it is located primarily outside it is usually cold and provides no natural draft. When you open the door on the stove cold air begins to fall into the room through the chimney. Many times your home is a better chimney then the chimney known as the stack effect and the smoke enters the house instead of the chimney. The best approach to overcome these problems are to open a window near the stove to try to equalize the inside and outside pressures to reduce the stack effect. Secondly you need to heat up the chimney somehow (torch, hairdryer etc.) to push out the cold air and get a draft started. Finally try building the fire upside down to create heat before smoke. (largest wood on bottom, then kindling then paper on top) The paper burns up creating heat to warm the chimney then the wood catches and hopefully the smoke begins to rise. 

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